December 18, 2023
A recent PwC report projects that institutional funds emphasizing environmental, social, and governance (ESG) will rise by 84% to US$33.9 trillion in 2026, making up 21.5% of assets under management. Before making an investment decision, investors are increasingly considering environmental, social, and governance factors. This significant increase in ESG-focused institutional funds reflects investors' growing awareness of the broader impact of their investments and the potential for both ethical and financial returns
ESG funds are investment vehicles that prioritize companies with strong ethical and sustainable practices. By choosing ESG investing, you are directing your investments to companies that are committed to making a positive impact on the world. These practices include renewable energy, transparent financial reporting, fair labour practices, and so on. These funds' goal is to generate long-term financial returns while mitigating risks related to environmental, social, and governance issues.
The funds can contribute to a positive impact as they invest in companies that are aligned with ESG factors. These companies reflect positive societal and environmental outcomes, such as reduced carbon emissions, improved labour practices, and community engagement. Moreover, these funds can empower communities through social impact investments and support initiatives that address pressing social and environmental challenges.
ESG-focused funds invest in a broader spectrum of industries, which offers attractive growth potential and diversification beyond established sectors. These funds also ensure they are following the exclusionary criteria which keeps them out of companies involved in activities deemed harmful to society. This further diversifies the portfolio away from volatile and controversial areas.
The growing market demand for ESG presents an advantage to ESG investors. This surge in popularity is driven by several factors, including increased awareness of ESG risks and benefits, supportive regulations, the growing influence of millennial investors, and rising institutional interest. This increasing demand provides investors with numerous opportunities.
According to an empirical analysis published on Frontiers, ESG has positively affected corporate financial performance. This happens because ESG investments offer benefits like lower risks, better efficiency, and a stronger reputation for companies. They also let investors get involved in the emerging industries and technologies that are becoming more important in transitioning the world. This involvement in emerging industries gives scope for long-term performance.
There are many different types of ESG-focused funds available, each with its unique investment strategy and focus. Considering the broader umbrella and the strategy, there are several categories such as ESG mutual funds, ESG ETFs, ESG equity funds, etc. Here are some of the most common types based on their focus:
These are the broadest category and invest in a wide range of companies, but they consider ESG factors alongside traditional financial metrics during selection.
These funds follow a more targeted approach, actively excluding companies from their portfolios based on their involvement in certain industries or activities deemed harmful to the environment or society. For example, fossil fuels, tobacco, weapons, etc.
These funds focus specifically on companies actively working to solve environmental and social problems, such as renewable energy or sustainable agriculture.
These funds focus on specific themes within the ESG spectrum, such as climate change, clean water, or gender equality, and invest in companies addressing these challenges.
In conclusion, the rise of ESG-focused funds marks a pivotal shift in the investment world, mirroring society's increasing emphasis on ESG and sustainability. These funds are not just about financial returns but also about contributing positively to our planet and society. As investors become more conscious of the impacts their money can have, ESG investments offer a path to align financial goals with ethical values. This trend is a testament to the growing understanding that sustainable and responsible investments are crucial for the long-term health of the economy and the environment.