Environmental, Social and Governance investment comes into its own

Three letters, ESG, have become a major driving force in investment decisions.

Three letters, ESG, have become a major driving force in investment decisions.

ESG – environmental, social and governance – considerations are playing an ever-increasing role in investment decisions. What used to be classed as ethical investment, socially responsible investment (SRI) and green investment have now to some extent merged under the ESG banner. The table below gives a taste of the broad range of ESG investment considerations.

EnvironmentalSocialGovernance
Carbon emissions Forest destruction Pollution Waste management Resource useEmployee treatment Child labour Slave labour Human rights Workplace health & safetyWorkforce diversity Board diversity Executive remuneration Political influencing Tax policy

In 2020, the popularity of ESG funds among the UK investing public grew dramatically, perhaps at least in part a response to the pandemic. The Investment Association’s (IA) ‘Responsible Investments’ category saw net retail sales more than treble to £10bn, almost a third of all 2020 sales and equal to the 2019 total for net retail sales. The IA 2020 statistics also show that over the year the value of funds in the category increased by two thirds, to £45.7 billion.

The latest figures from the IA show that were ESG funds to be classed as a fund sector, they would represent the eighth largest of the IA’s 38 fund sectors. However, they are not a unique sector as there are ESG funds to be found covering nearly all investment areas.

Across these areas ESG funds also take different routes to implementing the ESG approach. It is common for fund managers to rely on external ESG rating bodies, which do not always agree with each other. As is always the case with investing in funds, it is best to take advice on what is under the bonnet rather than relying on the marketing badge outside.

If you’d like more information around ESG investment, please get in touch.

The value of your investment and the income from it can go down as well as up and you may not get back the full amount you invested. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance.

Investing in shares should be regarded as a long-term investment and should fit in with your overall attitude to risk and financial circumstances.

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