SRI Survey: 2013 To Be Year Of "Impact Investing," Wider Institutional Investor ...

Sep 2012
United States, September, 05 2012 - If you think that SRI is only about investing in socially screened mutual funds, you haven't been paying enough attention.

The rapid rise of "impact investing" is going to have a big impact on the world of sustainable, responsible, impact (SRI) investing in the coming year, according to The 2012 SRI Conference Survey of more than 200 SRI professionals.

The first annual survey conducted by First Affirmative Financial Network is being released today, one month ahead of The 2012 SRI Conference (formerly known as SRI in the Rockies), the largest annual gathering of responsible investors and investment professionals in North America. Set for October 2-4, 2012 in Connecticut, the 23rd annual SRI Conference is on the East Coast for the first time, in close proximity to New York City, Boston, and Washington, D.C.

The term "impact investing" encompasses a range of approaches--including microfinance and private equity in developing markets--that allow institutions and individual investors to get involved in solving specific social and environmental problems while also generating a return. In some cases, impact investing is designed to achieve market returns; in other cases, a portion of the returns is devoted to achieving a greater social impact.

The August 2012 online survey of 218 SRI/ESG professionals includes the following key findings:

-- The #1 growth area for SRI in the next 12 months identified by the largest number of respondents is "impact investing" (35 percent), while another 29 percent see the biggest growth taking place in "screened investing/ESG integration." -- More than three out of five respondents (62 percent) expect "institutional investor acceptance of SRI/ESG to improve in the next 12 months." -- What will it take to get wider institutional acceptance of SRI? The top three responses are: "increased emphasis on impact investing for institutions that have 'making a difference' as part of their mission" (47 percent); improved performance (43 percent); and "increased emphasis on community investing" (35 percent). -- More than three out of four respondents (78 percent) say "SRI is growing and will continue to do so." Only 8 percent say SRI is "headed for a leveling off or a slowdown."

First Affirmative President, Steve Schueth, producer of The SRI Conference, said: "After the recent financial crisis, more and more investors have hungered for a way to have a more direct connection between their money and the impact it is having in the world. This survey shows that the sustainable, responsible, impact investment industry is innovative and vibrant--as vital for institutions and individual investors today as it was decades ago during the fight against Apartheid. Impact investing is the latest way that investment professionals who work with socially conscious investors are helping to deliver positive returns as well as positive change--for the common good."

Other key 2012 SRI Conference Survey findings include the following:

-- SRI investment performance is expected to "do about as well as the overall market" (46 percent) and nearly a quarter of respondents (23 percent) expect it will do "slightly better than the overall market." -- What are the three biggest roadblocks to wider individual acceptance of SRI? The top three responses are: "perceptions about performance" (74 percent); "investor confusion over the growing number of terms used to describe SRI (e.g. 'impact investing,' 'sustainable investing,' 'socially conscious investing,' 'green investing') (39 percent); and "the slow economy" (34 percent). -- The most prevalent areas of SRI career focus are: screened investing/ESG integration (69 percent); shareowner advocacy (36 percent); community investing (44 percent); and impact investing (26 percent). -- Nearly half (46 percent) of the respondents have been in the SRI/ESG field for a decade or longer, with 36 percent logging 10-25 years of service, and another 10 percent active more than 25 years. Another 31 percent have been in the field for three-10 years. Nearly three-quarters of those responding (71 percent) would "advise a new financial professional to enter the (SRI) field," and almost exactly the same portion of respondents would "make the same career decision if they could do it all over again."

Source : Denver Post

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