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

• 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.

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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: Morgan Stanley Institute for Sustainable Investing

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.

Source: Morgan Stanley and Bloomberg

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