ESG: Environmental, Social and Governance Investment (2023)

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Speaker: When evaluating investments, concerns such as environmental protection or the promotion of social equality were not always taken into account. But an investment approach called environmental, social and governance, or ESG investing is changing that. You may hear other terms used for ESG investing, such as B. Socially Responsible Investing, Sustainable Investing, Value Investing and Impact Investing. What these terms have in common is that they describe an approach to evaluating investments that is not only based on traditional measures of financial risk and return, but also considers their impact on society and the world. This can include selecting investments based on a company's environmental impacts, such as pollution and animal welfare, social impacts, such as human rights or fair wages, and governance factors, such as headcount, team leaders or diverse company boards.

However, ESG investing is about more than just investing with a clear conscience. Some investors believe companies with high ESG ratings have the potential to outperform those without. This idea of ​​"profit on principle" is gaining popularity.

For example, money invested in ESG funds globally increased by 53% to $2.7 trillion in 2021.

But is it possible to invest responsibly without sacrificing performance? Let's take a look at how ESG investing works and how ESG investing evolves over time. However, please note that past performance is no guarantee of future results or investment success.

(Video) ESG Investing: Environmental, Social, and Governance Explained

While some retail investors can choose their own stocks based on ESG criteria, many invest in funds or other investment vehicles that incorporate ESG factors into their investment strategy.

ESG investment product managers typically use two strategies for selecting investments: exclusionary and inclusive. The exclusionary approach generally avoids sectors that do not meet certain criteria or standards. For example, a fund using an exclusion approach might include all companies in a major stock index, excluding companies in the oil, mining and tobacco industries.

LikeSheThe inclusion strategy could include looking for companies that engage in ESG business practices deemed positive, doing things like developing renewable energy or promoting equal employment opportunities and diverse management. This approach tends to look at the impact of organizations more holistically, ignoring weaknesses in one area in favor of strengths in others. For example, an investor might be surprised to find a tobacco company in an ESG fund. However, if the company is part of an emerging market and making significant investments to develop rural communities, it may be selected for an inclusive approach.

So how does an individual investor or manager of ESG investment products decide which companies to include or exclude from their ESG investment strategy?

There are many investment research and analysis groups that evaluate and rank companies based on their ESG business practices. Many investment advisors have also developed their own selection criteria. These assessment methods and the resulting rankings come from a variety of sources, including company disclosures, executive engagement, public records, proprietary research, and artificial intelligence. Some may focus more on environmental issues, while others specialize in corporate governance. Other groups can be classified in all areas, but give different weights to each characteristic.

(Video) The Rise Of ESG Investing

Individual investors or investment managers can use these ratings as part of their analysis to determine whether a company's investment meets the criteria of the ESG investment strategy.

However, there are some issues with the rating systems that investors need to be aware of. First, some of the data used may be inconsistent because some of the information used by analysts is reported by companies themselves and some is not reported. This means companies can hide information and practices that could result in an inaccurate or misleading review.

Second, the classification criteria can be inconsistent, which can make it difficult to directly compare products. For example, some classifications focus more on corporate governance, while others focus on the environment. And managers can also use different criteria for ESG investment products, depending on the established investment strategy. For example, some ESG products may attempt to provide risk and return similar to that of a broad market index. However, this may still require the product to have exposure to all sectors of its benchmark, even sectors with generally low ESG ratings. For example, an oil company with a relatively low ESG rating may still be included if it is the top rated company in its industry.

This diversity of ESG strategies can make it difficult to answer one of the most important questions: How does an ESG investing approach really work compared to non-ESG investing approaches? While it's difficult to give a definitive answer, there are a number of studies that can help you get an idea of ​​how the ESG approach to investing has worked. Analysis of these studies shows that the ESG investment approach may entail modest returns and some risk mitigation potential.

A 2021 meta-analysis found a positive correlation between a company's financial and investment performance and its ESG business practices. The results suggest that companies with positive ESG business practices generally perform better financially over a longer period of time, offer some protection from social and economic downturns, have better risk management and more.

(Video) Why YOU should INVEST in ESG - Environmental, Social, Governance

Animation: Chart showing that between June 2011 and June 2021, ESG funds consistently ranked in the middle of their peer groups overall and across the top three asset classes, sometimes slightly below mid, sometimes slightly above, but never below.

Narrator: Charles Schwab's research found that funds that use an ESG approach to investing as a whole generally have very similar risk and return characteristics compared to non-ESG funds with similar assets.

A common criticism of ESG strategies is the lack of diversification. For example, some ESG equity strategies may be heavily biased towards technology stocks as they tend to use fewer natural resources. Historically, technology stocks have been subject to greater volatility and risk. An overweight ESG strategy relative to technology may also experience higher volatility.

Additionally, some ESG strategies may favor large companies, which generally have more resources to devote to ESG practices, such as B. the support of social causes or the purchase of CO2 compensation.

So what factors should you consider when considering adopting an ESG investing approach? First, determine which investment product best suits your needs and goals. Common products include individual stocks, funds, and separately managed accounts. Picking individual stocks, for example, can give you more control over what criteria you use to select companies, but it may also require more research on your part.

(Video) Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) | Overview and Framework

Second, do your homework to determine which ESG characteristics and criteria are most important to you. You can research the methods used by different ESG rating providers or, if you are considering an ESG product such as a fund or separately managed account, you can read the prospectus or offering documents to understand their objectives, philosophy, criteria and methods.

Third, consider the expenses. As with any investment strategy, higher fees can hurt returns. When considering ESG funds, remember that actively managed funds tend to have higher fees, while passively managed index funds tend to have lower fees. Be sure to read the prospectus to understand the fees and how they affect performance.

If you're among the growing number of investors who are considering expressing their personal values ​​in their investment choices, understanding what an ESG investing approach is and how ESG investing was done can help you make more informed decisions meet.

Screen text: [Schwab Logo] Own your tomorrow®


What are the 3 essential pillars of ESG? ›

The 3 Pillars of ESG. Successful businesses focus on three core essentials: people, process, and product.

What does ESG stand for Explain briefly environmental, social, and governance in ESG? ›

Environmental, social and governance (ESG) is a term used to represent an organization's corporate financial interests that focus mainly on sustainable and ethical impacts. Capital markets use ESG to evaluate organizations and determine future financial performance.

What is a good ESG question? ›

1. Is ESG undermining your company's competitiveness? Fears that excessive emphasis on ESG could harm a company's competitiveness are not misplaced. In fact, there are valid questions about whether, if a company places too much energy into ESG objectives, it risks losing its focus on growth, market share, and profits.

How does ESG investing help the environment? ›

ESG investing enables companies to address climate change through innovations that lower their GHG emissions. But its benefits go beyond emissions reduction. The establishment of renewable energy facilities, for instance, can lead to the creation of more jobs.

What are the five 5 ways that ESG creates value? ›

From our experience and research, ESG links to cash flow in five important ways: (1) facilitating top-line growth, (2) reducing costs, (3) minimizing regulatory and legal interventions, (4) increasing employee productivity, and (5) optimizing investment and capital expenditures (Exhibit 2).

What are examples of ESG governance? ›

Using independent, third party auditors and audits, cultivating a more diverse board of directors, implementing data protection measures, improving executive accountability, or drafting, updating, communicating, and training employees on important ESG policies are all examples of ESG governance in action.

What is ESG explained in simple terms? ›

ESG stands for environmental, social and governance. These are called pillars in ESG frameworks and represent the 3 main topic areas that companies are expected to report in. The goal of ESG is to capture all the non-financial risks and opportunities inherent to a company's day to day activities.

What are the 4 pillars of ESG? ›

  • Four pillars of ESG Strategy.
  • Corporate Social Responsibility.
  • Environmental Responsibility.
  • Economical Responsibility.
  • Sustainability Report.

What is ESG explained simply? ›

Environmental, social, and governance (ESG) investing refers to a set of standards for a company's behavior used by socially conscious investors to screen potential investments. Environmental criteria consider how a company safeguards the environment, including corporate policies addressing climate change, for example.

Which ESG factor is most important? ›

Governance is considered the “most important” element in relation to discussions about ESG, according to Architas.

What is the most important aspect of ESG? ›

Greenhouse gas (GHG) footprint: Arguably the most important environmental factor for many companies, investors heavily scrutinize the measurement and management of GHG emissions to determine whether their portfolios are prepared to meet ambitious, science-based greenhouse gas reduction targets.

What is the most important in ESG? ›

Importance of ESG

It brings awareness to the different climate issues that are occurring and encourages businesses to adopt practices and policies that are better for the environment. For the social part of ESG, employees and shareholders are created equally, and their health and safety are considered.

What is ESG investing and why is it important? ›

According to Forbes, ESG investing is when investors choose to invest in companies that receive high ratings in environmental, social and governance factors. These ratings are assessed by independent, third-party companies and research groups.

Does ESG investing actually make a difference? ›

They found that the companies in the ESG portfolios had worse compliance record for both labor and environmental rules. They also found that companies added to ESG portfolios did not subsequently improve compliance with labor or environmental regulations.

Why ESG environmental, social and governance is important in business? ›

Corporate reputation – ESG can enhance a company's license to operate making it easier to accomplish business objectives and respond to crisis scenarios with key stakeholder groups. Risk reduction – ESG can assist with the identification of immediate and long-term risks depending on the industry and business model.

What are the main approaches to ESG investing? ›

We have identified five primary strategies of ESG investing — exclusionary screening, positive screening, ESG integration, impact investing and active ownership.

What are ESG strategies? ›

An environmental, social and governance (ESG) strategy is defined as a business model that emphasizes social responsibility. All businesses seek profits, but today's investors and shareholders want to see businesses making efforts to make the world a better place as they generate those profits.

How does ESG create value for a company? ›

ESG can create financial value for companies in the long-term from cost reduction, productivity, new revenue and access to finance. MSCI study indicates that higher ESG scores can reduce the cost of capital by up to 1.14 per cent while other studies indicated that it could be as much as 10 per cent.

What are the 5 examples of governance? ›

Examples of good governance
  • Participation.
  • Rule of law.
  • Transparency.
  • Responsiveness.
  • Consensus orientation.
  • Equity.
  • Effectiveness and efficiency.
  • Accountability.
Aug 20, 2021

What is the problem with ESG investing? ›

The problem with ESG as an investment approach is the lack of standardized criteria for what makes an investment sustainable. An ESG approach ostensibly yields guilt-free returns—for example, by excluding fossil fuel and defense investments, or prioritizing sectors like green energy.

What are examples of social in ESG? ›

ESG Social performance indicators can include things like diversity, income equality, workplace injury rates, philanthropy, and labor practices of suppliers. The goal of these factors is to measure how well the organization is meeting its human obligations in operations, global supply chains, and local communities.

What are the 5 types of sustainability? ›

The four main types of sustainability are human, social, eco- nomic and environmental. These are defined and contrasted in Tables 1–4. It is important to specify which type of sustainability one is dealing with as they are all so different and should not be fused together, although some overlap to a certain extent.

Why is ESG becoming so important? ›

ESG frameworks are important to sustainable investing because they can help individuals or other corporations determine whether the company is in alignment with their values, as well as analyze the ultimate worth of a company for their purposes.

How does ESG improve financial performance? ›

ESG investing appears to provide downside protection, especially during a social or economic crisis. Sustainability initiatives at corporations appear to drive better financial performance due to mediating factors such as improved risk management and more innovation.

Why are ESG strategies important? ›

Fund managers use ESG considerations to identify risks and opportunities that could affect a firm's long-term sustainability. A responsible investing strategy seeks to invest in companies that align behind ESG principles and engage with others to improve their behaviour.

What are the biggest ESG issues? ›

Five ESG risks that matter to investors
  1. Asset devaluation & long-term risk. Climate risk is a critical ESG focus today. ...
  2. Social & governance risk events. ESG social factors can range from employee treatment to boycotts to labor violations to product recalls. ...
  3. Access to information. ...
  4. Perception. ...
  5. Regulatory risks.
Jul 5, 2022

What are the biggest trends in ESG? ›

Here are the top ESG trends to watch for in 2023, according to industry experts:
  • Headwinds for 2023.
  • Greater regulatory oversight.
  • Increased impact investing.
  • Emphasis on DEI.
  • Biodiversity as "The New Climate."
Jan 10, 2023

Why ESG investing is the future? ›

Here are five reasons why we believe ESG investing is much more than a short-term fad. Over $500 billion flowed into ESG-integrated funds in 2021, contributing to a 55% growth in assets under management in ESG-integrated products1. We expect growth in ESG investing to continue through 2022, and well beyond.

What is the uncomfortable truth about ESG? ›

It has spawned an unsavoury practice known as greenwashing, where a fund over-inflates or lies about its environmental credentials to curry favour with the growing demand by investors to transition to net-zero carbon emissions.

How successful is ESG investing? ›

ESG funds have consistently ranked around the middle of their peer groups. Source: Charles Schwab Investment Advisory, Morningstar Direct as of 6/30/2021. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

Do people care about ESG investing? ›

Investors Prioritize Investment Performance Over ESG Factors

Seventy-eight percent of investors say they give a lot or fair amount of thought to the expected rate of return when choosing which companies or funds to invest in, and 74% give the same thought to the risk for potential losses.

Why is ESG more important now than ever for your business? ›

There are a number of reasons why ESG is more important now than ever before. Firstly, the world is facing a number of environmental challenges, such as climate change, which need to be addressed urgently. Secondly, there is an increasing awareness of the importance of social issues such as inequality and human rights.

What are the 3 pillars of sustainability and define each? ›

Sustainable development can be applied to corporate policy in the business world as it encompasses three key areas: economic, environmental and social. Sustainable development requires that a company must contribute to economic growth, social progress and promote environmental sustainability.

What are the key elements of ESG? ›

Key ESG Factors
  • Environmental. Conservation of the natural world. - Climate change and carbon emissions. - Air and water pollution. ...
  • Social. Consideration of people & relationships. - Customer satisfaction. - Data protection and privacy. ...
  • Governance. Standards for running a company. - Board composition. - Audit committee structure.

Are there 3 or 4 pillars of sustainability? ›

The term sustainability is broadly used to indicate programs, initiatives and actions aimed at the preservation of a particular resource. However, it actually refers to four distinct areas: human, social, economic and environmental – known as the four pillars of sustainability.

What are the basic concepts of ESG? ›

ESG stands for environmental, social and governance. These are called pillars in ESG frameworks and represent the 3 main topic areas that companies are expected to report in. The goal of ESG is to capture all the non-financial risks and opportunities inherent to a company's day to day activities.

What are the 4 types of sustainability? ›

The four main types of sustainability are human, social, eco- nomic and environmental. These are defined and contrasted in Tables 1–4. It is important to specify which type of sustainability one is dealing with as they are all so different and should not be fused together, although some overlap to a certain extent.

What are the 3 main dimensions of sustainability? ›

The 2030 Agenda commits the global community to “achieving sustainable development in its three dimensions—economic, social and environmental—in a balanced and integrated manner”.

What are the 5 factors of sustainability? ›

Sustainability can therefore be defined by five key factors: socio-cultural respect, community participation, political cohesion, economic sustainability, and environmental sustainability ( Table 2).

What makes a good ESG strategy? ›

In today's global arena, setting an Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) Strategy is seen as an important benchmark for how responsible organisations operate. A successful ESG strategy covers the three main pillars of sustainability: Environment; Social; and Governance.

What are the 4 main components of environmental sustainability? ›

Let us look at the four elements of environmental sustainability and environmental regulatory compliance: air, water, management, and risk reduction.

What are the 4 components of sustainable development? ›

There are four dimensions to sustainable development – society, environment, culture and economy – which are intertwined, not separate. Sustainability is a paradigm for thinking about the future in which environmental, societal and economic considerations are balanced in the pursuit of an improved quality of life.

What is ESG investment strategy? ›

ESG Investing (also known as “socially responsible investing,” “impact investing,” and “sustainable investing”) refers to investing which prioritizes optimal environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors or outcomes.


1. Environmental, Social, and Governance Issues in Investing: An Academic Perspective
(NYU School of Law)
2. Catalyzing Environmental, Social and Governance Investment
3. What is ESG? | Environmental, Social, and Governance
(Finance Strategists)
4. Catalyzing Environmental, Social and Governance Investment
(World Bank)
5. How ESG Metrics Work And Why All Investors Should Care
(Personal Finance Insider)
6. What is Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG)?
(Eye on Tech)


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