Friday, 10 February 2023 03:44

Investors Avoid ESG When Times Get Tough

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Robin Döttling, an assistant professor of finance in the Rotterdam School of Management at Erasmus University in the Netherlands, and Sehoon Kim, an assistant professor at the University of Florida’s Warrington College of Business, authors of a recently published academic study, found that individual investor demand for socially responsible investing “is highly sensitive to income shocks” and economic stress. The professors went through mutual fund flow data and surveyed investors' views of and expectations for sustainable investing. The study focused on the periods immediately before and after the COVID pandemic went global in early 2020. The results show that when times get tough for individual investors, helping to save the planet takes a backseat to selling funds that they believe may lose more during a downturn. When an economic shock results in incomes shrinking, investors become more risk-averse. In the authors’ words, “We start to view the emotional or nonfinancial appeal of ESG investing as ‘costly’ and ‘unsustainable’ if it means forfeiting returns.” However, the study found that demand for ESG investments from institutions such as pension funds remained more robust. Their actions are typically constrained by investment mandates and are often slower to respond to market shocks. In addition, those investors don’t have to face the same kind of pressures that individual investors deal with during COVID lockdowns and job losses.

Finsum:A recently published academic study conducted before and after the COVID pandemic found that individual investors sell ESG investments during economic downturns, while the demand for ESG remains robust among institutional investors.

Category: Wealth Management

Keywords: investors, ESG, covid, mutual funds

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