For almost 50 years now, I have been active in the world of responsible investment (otherwise known as sustainable investment, ESG integration, and impact investment, among other things). Its growth, especially since 2010, has surprised me. Assets under management in this once obscure discipline are estimated at as much as $37.8 trillion by year-end 2021.[i] Around the world, the field is exploding with new products, a deluge of data and heightened recognition from regulators. I am particularly surprised at these developments given that since its earliest years, its practitioners have faced a barrage of criticism. The three prongs of these…
When modern portfolio theory arrived on the scene in the 1950s, it was considered revolutionary. It changed the way that investors perceive risk, return and portfolio management and permanently altered the investing world and financial markets.
“It’s time for a new way to think about investing, one that can contend with the complex challenges we face in the 21st century,” authors William Burckart and Steven Lydenberg write in the introduction to their new book, 21st Century Investing: Redirecting Financial Strategies to Drive Systems Change.
What are the biggest threats to an investor’s portfolio these days? Climate change impacts all investors across all asset classes. Income inequality threatens to polarize politics, paralyze governments, destabilize democracies, and lead to nationalistic populism, trade wars and even geopolitical conflicts.
Everyone has an opinion about short-termism. It has been blamed for underinvestment in infrastructure, basic science, human capital, and research and development.
Finance is, or normatively should be, a service function. For example, asset management provides investors with a desirable risk/return profile for their investments and allocates capital (intermediation) where it is needed by society and the real economy.
Viewed with historical distance and perspective, the connections between norms, law, regulation and corporate behavior are quite apparent. What is considered socially (market) acceptable changes over time and location, sometimes slowly and sometimes quite rapidly.