A new Biden administration and a new head of Securities and Exchange Commission are adding to optimism for meaningful progress on clearer regulations and standardized reporting for environmental, social, and governance funds.
“If data is the new oil, then we need to get it right,” Sandra Myburgh, founder of the New York investment manager FERN Impact Partners, said during a virtual industry conference the asset management events company Context Summits held last month, Business Insider reports.
According to Cerulli Associates’ recent polling of institutional investors during the first quarter of 2020, 39% of respondents noted that companies’ limited or selective ESG data disclosures were a significant hurdle in accurately assessing ESG metrics’ impact for the reporting companies. Furthermore, the survey results revealed that ‘insufficient’ data from third-party providers and the sheer subjectivity of ESG factors in investment analyses came up short in investors’ eyes.
Currently, the industry does not follow a unified code of conduct when reporting ESG metrics, so companies may be left underreporting or even not disclosing certain data points.
“As more asset managers consider material ESG information as part of their investment framework, asset owners want to know how asset managers use ESG data to better understand what a company does and how it does it,” Michele Giuditta, a director in the institutional practice of research firm Cerulli Associates, said in a report published earlier this month.
Bfinance also found that large institutional asset owners like pensions are struggling to properly identify ESG managers for the same reasons.
Over eight of every ten institutional asset manager surveyed noted they “are experiencing challenges in obtaining consistent ESG reporting across asset managers and asset classes, with 55% calling this a ‘major challenge’,” according to Bfinance.
Andrew Collins, director of ESG and responsible investing at San Francisco Employees’ Retirement System, believes that the data from companies individual disclosing their information needs to improve and become more standardized.
“Hopefully that playing field is level for all these different entities to then apply their own judgments on top of,” Collins told Business Insider.
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