123RF

Sustainable investment skepticism has declined notably as climate concerns take centre stage with institutional investors — yet obstacles to investing sustainably remain, a new survey finds.

U.K.-based asset manager Schroder Investment Management Ltd. has reported that its latest survey of institutional investors found that the number of sustainable investment cynics has dropped over the past couple of years.

Back in 2017, 20% of respondents said that they didn’t believe in sustainable investing. That’s down to 11% in Schroders latest survey.

Schroders noted that, in Latin America, skepticism was down from 29% in 2017 to 12% this year.

Additionally, 75% of investors now expect sustainable investing to become even more important over the next five years, up from 67% in 2017.

“These findings deliver perhaps some of the clearest evidence to date of how even the most sceptical of institutions are now recognizing that investing sustainably can deliver better long-term outcomes,” said Jessica Ground, global head of stewardship at Schroders.

“The study emphasizes that this is only going to grow over the next five years with the likes of climate change now viewed by investors globally as the most important issue for stewardship engagement. We believe that establishing a clear understanding of the climate change investment risks facing our clients is a vital step towards managing those associated risks,” she added.

Despite the growing belief in sustainable investing, Schroders said that investing sustainably remains a challenge for investors.

“Performance concerns and a lack of transparency and reported data were the key issues, although difficulty measuring and managing risk also increased as a challenge for investors globally,” it said.

Indeed, the survey also found that 19% of respondents don’t use sustainable investment funds.

The survey was carried out with 650 institutional investors, including pension funds, insurance companies, sovereign wealth funds and others, which collectively manage approximately US$25.4 trillion in assets.