A recently published HBR article on "Investor revolution" addressed the profound transformation happening in the way investment community is using ESG (Environment, Social and Governance) metrics to take decisions. It is not anymore about "impact investing" or "sustainable investing", it is about...investing. Full stop. The article makes a very interesting analysis of the main reasons for this revolution. In a nutshell:
a) Size of investment firms. Basic argument: they have become so big that they can not allow the planet to fail.
b) Financial returns. The growing evidence of the link "Sustainability to bottom line"
c) Growing demand. Pension funds are increasingly demanding sustainable investing strategies from their asset managers
d) Fiduciary duties. Harder for CEOs and Management teams to argue their sole responsibility is to shareholders. " “Failing to integrate ESG issues is a failure of fiduciary duty.”
e) Trickle down within investment firms. The message is rapidly flowing from the top to the bottom of these firms. “Portfolio managers are accountable for assessing every investment in the context of risk, return, costs, and ESG. This has been an internal cultural evolution.”
In my view, this is, yet again, another interesting piece of reasoning heading in the same direction: it does not make sense anymore to talk about sustainability strategies: sustainability is the strategy.