ESG leadership is a status that most asset managers are looking to attain while the vision of regulators and greenwashing vigilantes is becoming sharper, as their eyes get used to the ambient brightness. This coveted position is especially difficult to achieve as ESG remains a somewhat vague concept that is subject to a range of interpretations. How, then, can investors lead in an space ruled by subjective criteria? And more crucially, how can one judge and rank those who are leading?
With investments there are two practical yardsticks that are easy to quantify: performance and assets under management. These measures tell us ex-post how effective an investment strategy has been and ex-ante how enticing a product is. Ultimately, what use is it to design an ESG strategy that convinces no one? It is in this context that we partnered with GFS to put together a handbook on ESG Leaders.
Global Fund Search’s ESG Leaders have the opportunity to join the program by invitation only. In order to qualify, a manager has to have been successful in ESG-related searches. With this universe of leaders validated by institutional demand, the reader of this handbook will have to remain the judge of authentic leadership. Our mission has been to provide a standardised template to compare the managers’ best possible answers to the most crucial aspects of sustainable investing: what does a manager commit to and how is this commitment fulfilled? How does a manager integrate ESG, what stewardship does it conduct and what are the sustainable strategies on offer? Our ambition isn’t to answer all the questions, but contrasting these short summaries with the more purely quantitative figures at the end of the report should provide a transparent and effective place to start.
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