JBAFP 2020, 2(2), 11; doi: 10.35995/jbafp2020011
The Importance of Profit and Sound Financing in Socially Responsible Investment
Received: 27 Aug 2019 / Revised: 6 Nov 2019 / Accepted: 2020-02-12 / Published: 2020-02-14
Socially Responsible Investment (SRI) has grown exponentially in recent years. The rising importance of social, environmental, and governance (ESG) aspects in decision making as well as in asset allocation is undeniable. However, important challenges must be addressed. The dramatic increase in ESG investments has coincided with a period of extremely low rates and massive liquidity injections. Also, the definition of socially responsible investment is too broad and can generate misunderstandings (an approximation to the correct definitions can be found in Sandberg et al., 2009). Additionally, I find that a significant part of funds that follow ESG principles can fall into the trap of investing in heavily subsidized and high-debt sectors. Investors should monitor the risk of concentration, the soundness of profit estimates, and strength of balance sheets to avoid rent-seeking and depending heavily on subsidies and grants. Furthermore, I find that performance of ESG and SRI funds has been monitored only in a period of low rates, high liquidity, rising asset valuations, and bullish markets. More tools have to be used to monitor risk as markets enter a consolidation phase. I find that it is essential to focus on real economic returns in a mid-cycle environment as well as monitoring excess leverage to avoid the risk of a very important reduction in ESG investments in a market correction phase for markets with rising interest rates. I conclude that strong fundamental analysis, diversification, and avoiding herd mentality are essential to prevent large outflows and a negative impact on ESG growth once the cycle changes.
Keywords: Socially Responsible Investment; SRI; ESG; impact investment; cost of capital; Shareholder Activism; downside risk; corporate governance; climate change; financial ratios; financial risk; financing; environment; social; governance
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Lacalle, D. The Importance of Profit and Sound Financing in Socially Responsible Investment. JBAFP 2020, 2, 11.
Lacalle D. The Importance of Profit and Sound Financing in Socially Responsible Investment. Journal of Business Accounting and Finance Perspectives. 2020; 2(2):11.
Lacalle, Daniel. 2020. "The Importance of Profit and Sound Financing in Socially Responsible Investment." JBAFP 2, no. 2: 11.