February 21, 2019 - 8:00 AM EST
Sustainable Investing Goes Mainstream: Morgan Stanley and Bloomberg Survey Finds Sustainable Investing a Business Imperative Among U.S. Asset Managers

Sustainable Investing Goes Mainstream: Morgan Stanley and Bloomberg Survey Finds Sustainable Investing a Business Imperative Among U.S. Asset Managers

NEW YORK

  • New survey shows that 75% of U.S. asset managers say their firms now offer sustainable investing strategies, up from 65% in 2016.
  • Most asset managers are embracing sustainable investing as a business building approach and believe that financial returns and impact outcomes can go hand in hand.
  • Expertise, better data and impact reporting identified as factors to support customization and drive future success in the space.

A majority of U.S. asset managers are now practicing sustainable investing, viewing it as a strategic business imperative. In a new survey entitled Sustainable Signals: Growth and Opportunity in Asset Management, from the Morgan Stanley Institute for Sustainable Investing and Bloomberg, 75% of respondents reported that their firms have adopted sustainable investing, up from 65% in 2016.

“The survey results demonstrate that sustainable investment strategies are now a strategic imperative,” said Matthew Slovik, Head of Global Sustainable Finance at Morgan Stanley. “It is clear that asset managers will continue to invest new resources and expand their product portfolios in the coming years.”

Respondents cited several key drivers of success in sustainable investing, including increased investment stability, high client satisfaction, product popularity and possible high financial returns. Despite the recognition of the strategy as a business imperative, almost all asset managers highlighted the need for increased expertise, better data and impact reporting to drive future success in the space.

“As investors increasingly consider sustainability factors across asset classes and investment products, we expect to see a shift toward better data tracking and reporting mechanisms,” noted Curtis Ravenel, Global Head of Sustainable Business & Finance at Bloomberg. “This will increase credibility and improve measurement of impact across portfolios.”

The survey polled 300 respondents at U.S. asset management firms with at least $50 million in client assets. The survey gathered insights about the growth, direction and future outlook of sustainable investing among asset managers, which builds on a previous Morgan Stanley and Bloomberg survey and interview series first conducted in 2016 titled, Sustainable Signals: The Asset Manager Perspective.

Results from the 2018 survey identify sustainable investing as a mainstream strategy that will continue to grow as an investing strategy in years to come. Key findings include:

Sustainable Investing Goes Mainstream

  • Three in four U.S. asset managers say their firms now offer sustainable investing strategies, up from 65% in 2016.
  • Asset managers overwhelmingly agree that sustainable investing is no longer a fad, with nine in 10 (89%) saying it is here to stay and 63% expecting it to continue to grow in the next five years.

A Financial Case for Sustainable Investing

  • As sustainable investing matures, asset managers are putting financial considerations at the forefront of their sustainable investment strategies.
  • 82% think strong ESG practices can lead to higher profitability and that companies with such practices may be better long-term investments.
  • Almost two thirds of asset managers (62%) believe that it’s possible to maximize financial returns while investing sustainably.

Product Types Proliferate, Expanding Investor Choice

  • As more firms embrace sustainable investing strategies, they are offering more ESG-tailored investment vehicles and expanding investor choice.
  • Many employ a full spectrum of sustainable investing approaches, with 63% employing more than one strategy across shareholder engagement, restriction screening, ESG integration, thematic investing and impact investing.

Expertise, Better Data and Impact Reporting Will Support Customization and Drive Future Success

  • Nearly all (89%) respondents report their firms will devote more resources to sustainable investing in the next two years. Common strategies for developing in-house skills and capacity include employee training (41%), dedicating more employee time (36%) and specialist hires (34%).
  • Seven in 10 asset managers agree that the industry lacks standard metrics to measure nonfinancial performance of sustainable investments. The field is wide open for better data and the development of impact measurement tools.

For more information, please see https://www.morganstanley.com/ideas/sustainable-investing-asset-managers.

About The Morgan Stanley Institute for Sustainable Investing

The Morgan Stanley Institute for Sustainable Investing builds scalable finance solutions that seek to deliver competitive financial returns while driving positive environmental and social impact. The Institute creates innovative financial products, thoughtful insights and capacity building programs that help maximize capital to create a more sustainable future. For more information about the Morgan Stanley Institute for Sustainable Investing, visit www.morganstanley.com/sustainableinvesting.

About Morgan Stanley

Morgan Stanley (NYSE: MS) is a leading global financial services firm providing investment banking, securities, wealth management and investment management services. With offices in more than 41 countries, the Firm's employees serve clients worldwide including corporations, governments, institutions and individuals. For more information about Morgan Stanley, please visit www.morganstanley.com.

About Bloomberg

Bloomberg, the global business and financial information and news leader, gives influential decision makers a critical edge by connecting them to a dynamic network of information, people and ideas. The company’s strength – delivering data, news and analytics through innovative technology, quickly and accurately – is at the core of the Bloomberg Terminal. Bloomberg’s enterprise solutions build on the company’s core strength: leveraging technology to allow customers to access, integrate, distribute and manage data and information across organizations more efficiently and effectively. For more information, visit www.bloomberg.com/company or request a demo.

Acknowledgements

The Morgan Stanley Institute for Sustainable Investing and Bloomberg would like to thank the Initiative for Responsible Investment at the Hauser Institute for Civil Society at the Harvard Kennedy School and Edelman Intelligence for their contributions to this work.

Disclosures

This material was published on February 21, 2019 and has been prepared for informational purposes only and is not a solicitation of any offer to buy or sell any security or other financial instrument or to participate in any trading strategy. This material was not prepared by the Morgan Stanley Research Department and is not a Research Report as defined under FINRA regulations. This material does not provide individually tailored investment advice. It has been prepared without regard to the individual financial circumstances and objectives of persons who receive it. Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC and Morgan Stanley & Co. LLC (collectively, "Morgan Stanley"), Members SIPC, recommend that recipients should determine, in consultation with their own investment, legal, tax, regulatory and accounting advisors, the economic risks and merits, as well as the legal, tax, regulatory and accounting characteristics and consequences, of the transaction. The appropriateness of a particular investment or strategy will depend on an investor's individual circumstances and objectives.

This material contains forward-looking statements and there can be no guarantee that they will come to pass. Information contained herein is based on data from multiple sources and Morgan Stanley makes no representation as to the accuracy or completeness of data from sources outside of Morgan Stanley. References to third parties contained herein should not be considered a solicitation on behalf of or an endorsement of those entities by Morgan Stanley.

Morgan Stanley, its affiliates and Morgan Stanley Financial Advisors do not provide tax, accounting or legal advice. Individuals should consult their tax advisor for matters involving taxation and tax planning and their attorney for matters involving legal matters.

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Source: Business Wire (February 21, 2019 - 8:00 AM EST)