Financial Performance

Can sustainable investments achieve performance objectives? 

Addressing key material factors that have often not been considered investment decisions can help investors maximize a portfolio’s risk and return profile. In addition to addressing constituent concerns, incorporating material environmental, social, and governance factors into an investment decision value chain can enhance long-term returns, decrease risk by providing downside protection, and deliver portfolio benefits such as diversification and reduced volatility. 

Reports and Resources

  • The Business Case for ESGIntentional Endowments Network, March 2016 - defines ESG investing is, describes how ESG investing and analysis can be approached, and addresses how ESG investing strategies perform financially.
  • Seeing SRI in Context, Steffon M. Gray, assistant director, research and policy analysis, NACUBO, March 2019. Compares the performance of 2017 NACUBO-Commonfund survey participants who integrate responsible investing practices with those who don't and finds no significant difference except among the largest endowment where those with responsible investing practices outperformed those without.
  • Paper on financial performance of ESG integration in US investing, Principles for Responsible Investment, February 2018 —Summarizes the findings on ESG materiality in three empirical studies
  • Sustainable Investing and Bond Returns, Barclays, October 2016 — Examines the relationship between ESG investing and performance in the US corporate bond markets and finds that the incorporation of ESG factors into the analysis of bonds had a small but consistent performance benefit.
  • Corporate Sustainability: First Evidence on Materiality (pdf), Mozaffar Khan, George Serafeim, Aaron Yoon, March 9, 2015 — Found that firms with good ratings on material sustainability issues significantly outperform firms the poor ratings on these issues. 
  • The Impact of Corporate Sustainability on Organizational Processes and Performance (pdf) | Robert G. Eccles, Ioannis Ioannou, George Serafeim, Harvard Business School, July 2013 — 18-year study (1993-2011) showing that 90 companies with strong sustainability policies outperformed a similar group of 90 companies with low sustainability standards, with a 4.8 percent higher annual above-market average return.
  • Allocating Capital for Long-Term Returns, Generation Foundation, May 2015 - Makes the investment case for sustainable capitalism
  • Excerpt from GMO The Race for Our Lives  An analysis of the performance impact of divesting from various S&P 500 sectors. 
  • Financial performance implications of divesting from U.S. fossil fuel stocks — IEN online resource, January 2015 - compares the performance of the Russell 3000 Index to an optimized portfolio of Russell 3000 Index stocks without consumable fuel stocks over rolling 3 year periods spanning 25 years from 1988-2013.
  • Video: How a Sustainable Investing Lens leads to Better Stock Selection —  Keynote Address by David Blood, Co-Founder & Senior Partner, Generation Investment Management at the  2016 Intentionally Designed Endowment Forum 

David Blood discussing sustainability and stock selection at 2016 IEN Forum


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