Big News: As 2020 Began, $1-in-$3 of Professionally Managed AUM in the United States Had ESG Analysis and/or Portfolio Management Strategies Applied…US$17.1 Trillion Total
November 2020 — Every two years, since 1996, the influential trade organization for sustainable, responsible and impact investment (US SIF) conducts a year-long survey of professional asset managers to determine the total of USA-based assets under management (“AUM”) that have ESG analysis and/or portfolio management applied.
The Trends report just released charts the AUM with ESG analysis and strategies in the United States at $16.6 trillion at the start of 2020 – that’s 25X the total since the first Trends report in1996, with compounded growth rate of 14 percent. (The most rapid growth rate has been since 2012, says US SIF.)
Consider: This means that today, $1-in-$3 of professionally managed assets in the United States follows analysis and/or strategies considering ESG criteria. (The total of US assets under professional management at the start of 2020 was $51.4 trillion.)
This is a dramatic 43% increase over the survey results of the 2018 Trends report – that effort charted a total of $11.6 trillion in ESG-managed AUM in the USA at the start of 2018.
The survey respondents for the current Trends report identified the ESG-focused AUM practices of 530 institutional investors; 384 money managers; 1,204 community investment institutions – all applying environmental, social, and corporate governance criteria in their portfolio management.
What are top ESG issues identified by money management professionals in the survey effort?
- Climate Change-Carbon: $4.18 trillion – #1 issue
- Anti-Corruption: $2.44T
- Board Room Issues: $2.39T
- Sustainable Natural Resources/Agriculture: $2.38T
- Executive Compensation: $2.22T
- Conflict Risk (such as repressive regimes or terrorism, this cited by institutional investors): $1.8T
Note that many strategies and ESG analysis and portfolio management approaches can be overlapping.
Lisa Woll, US SIF Foundation CEO explains: “Money managers and institutional investors are using ESG criteria and shareholder engagement to address a plethora of issues including climate change, sustainable natural resources and agriculture, labor, diversity, and political spending. Retail and high net worth individuals are increasingly using this investment approach, with $4.6 trillion in sustainable investment assets, a 50% increase since 2018.”
The 2020 Trends report counts two main strategies as “sustainable investing” – (1) the incorporation of ESG factors in analysis and management of assets and (2) filing shareholder resolutions focused on ESG issues.
What are the top issues for the professional asset owners, their managers, and other investment professionals participating in the survey? Gauging the leading ESG issues for 2018-to-2020, examining the number of shareholder proposals filed, the Trends report charts the following in order of importance:
- Corporate Political Activity
- Labor & Equal Employment Opportunity
- Climate Change
- Executive Pay
- Independent Board Chair
- Special Meetings
- Written Consent
- Human Rights
- Board Diversity
Looking at the 2020 Trends report, we have to say — we’ve certainly come a long, long way over the years. When first Trends survey was conducted at the end of 1995, the total AUM was just US$639 billion. The shift to sustainable, responsible, impact investment was underway! (The report released on November 16th is the 13th in the series.)
For information about the US SIF Report on US Sustainable and Impact Investing Trends 2020, and to purchase a copy of the report: https://www.ussif.org/trends
Governance & Accountability Institute is a long-time member of the Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment (US SIF) and a sponsor of the 2020 Trends report. US SIF is the leading voice advancing sustainable and impact investing across all asset classes.
Members include investment management and advisory firms, mutual fund companies, asset owners, research firms, financial planners and advisors, community investment organizations, and not-for-profits. The work is supported by the US SIF Foundation that undertakes educational and research efforts to advance SIF’s work.
Louis Coppola, G&A EVP and Co-founder, is chair of the SIF Company Calls Committee that arranges meetings of SIF member organizations with publicly-traded companies to discuss their ESG/Sustainability efforts.
US SIF Trends 2020 Report Published November16, 2020:
- Press Release: The US SIF Foundation’s Biennial “Trends Report” Finds That Sustainable Investing Assets Reach $17.1 Trillion (Source: US SIF)
- Executive Summary: Report on US Sustainable and Impact Investing Trends – Executive Summary
- Full Report: 2020 Report on US Sustainable, Responsible and Impact Investing Trends – Full Report (for online purchase)