The study, for which more than 800 institutional investors in 10 European countries were polled, suggests Europe is a frontrunner when it comes to sustainable investing, even though SRI-penetration varies wildly across Europe. Research by HSBC conducted last year found that a third of institutional assets globally are invested on the basis of sustainability criteria.
Institutional investors from the Nordic countries (61%), the Netherlands (53%) and the UK (43%) are the largest proponents of it. They also consider themselves relatively knowledgeable about sustainable investing: 53% of Dutch investors believe they have very good or good knowledge about the issue, which is significantly higher than the European average.
In Germany and Italy however, SRI investing is much less common. Only respectively a fifth and a third of assets are invested according to sustainability criteria. German and Italian investors also invest relatively little in sustainable equities, preferring real estate, bonds (Germany) and infrastructure (Italy) instead.
Either you are, or you are not
Even though the share of assets invested sustainably is relatively high in the Netherlands, and also in the UK, the two countries rank lowest when it comes to the share of investors who actually use sustainable investment strategies at all. This suggests that, Dutch and British take sustainable investing extremely seriously, once they have decided to ‘go green’. While a majority of investors from the two countries view sustainability as an important selection criterion, less than a third of their German counterparts share this standpoint.
The biggest stumbling block for institutional investors to adopt sustainable investment solutions is the lack of transparency associated with them: 42% believe SRI strategies are not transparent enough. This confirms earlier research conducted by Expert Investor, which found 47% of European fund selectors believe fund managers are not transparent enough about what exactly makes their funds so environmentally friendly.