Investors from Schroders, Trillium and PensionDanmark discuss how a changing regulatory picture and the economics of sustainable investment are coming together to create a tipping point in ESG, but they warn their peers to look beyond the label to what is on the inside.
Integrating sustainability into investments will become much higher profile under new EU regulations that take effect this year. Coming into force over the course of 2021, the EU’s Sustainable Finance Action Plan represents one of the most impactful pieces of regulation to hit the investment management industry since MiFID II beefed up reporting and transparency in 2018. A core tenet of the plan is the Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation (SFDR), which will classify investment funds according to their sustainability credentials for the first time.
We are now at a turning point, with Democrats controlling both legislative chambers and the presidency, and an emerging concensus among Democratic policy makers and their advisors that enables fiscal spending that is both significant in size and ambitious in scope. Later this year, we expect to see the first expansionary fiscal package centered around the pursuing long-term social, environmental, and competitiveness policy goals (following the more immediate COVID recovery package). In these Observations, we explore two key shifts in Democrats' thinking underlying these policy proposals, which we expect will be sustained well beyond this fiscal package.
A growing number of asset owners now expect their investment managers to incorporate ESG factors into their investment processes. This means that ESG needs to be at the core of the relationship between the asset owner and the investment manager – and that ESG considerations need to be addressed at every stage of that relationship, from setting the initial investment strategy, to drafting requests for proposals, to selection, appointment and monitoring.
Asset owners increasingly include ESG considerations in their investment management agreements (IMAs) and other legal documentation. More than two-thirds (69%) of PRI asset owner signatories typically implement ESG requirements in contracts such as IMAs and limited partner agreements (LPAs).1 To ensure that investment managers abide by their clients’ ESG requirements, certain legal aspects are becoming standard features of the asset owner-investment manager relationship.
With fiscal policy now the dominant lever supporting growth in most economies, it has become even more important to understand how the various fiscal policies will flow through to GDP, inflation, and different markets. We have been working to get our understanding of fiscal policy to the same level as our understanding of monetary policy. This is a difficult task, as fiscal comes in so many forms, each having different implications at the macro and micro levels. Some policies can be clearly counter-cyclical (the best of these are typically direct checks and shovel-ready infrastructure), while others aim to address more structural problems (like low productivity or environmental issues) but are less effective cyclically, as they are typically longer-term.