Growth in Sustainable Indices Proves Sustainable


Sustainable investing may be very a lot on the minds of traders throughout the globe. That’s the important thing takeaway from the Index Industry Association (IIA)’s fifth annual survey of world unbiased index suppliers.

By measuring the variety of indices around the globe from throughout asset courses, geographies, and classes, the annual IIA Benchmark Survey serves as a helpful temperature test for world traders and has led us into deeper evaluation of rising areas of investor focus. IIA members proceed to manage over 3 million indices globally and, with 9,000 to 10,00 exchange-traded merchandise (ETPs), it’s clear most indices are used for benchmarking functions not for merchandise for funding. The unprecedented progress in environmental, social and governance (ESG) indices and ongoing growth in fixed-income indexes in recent times has created extra instruments for benchmarking and can present asset managers higher instruments to create higher funding merchandise for traders.

This yr’s survey outcomes present the sunshine for ESG, or sustainable investing, continues to be flashing inexperienced. The variety of indices measuring ESG standards jumped by 43%. That’s a report year-over-year (YoY) enhance for any sector within the survey and comes on prime of a 40.2% rise from 2019 to 2020. For perspective, most classes change inside 5% YoY.

While not shocking, the most recent survey findings, mixed with different IIA analysis, verify an ongoing and accelerating development we’ve noticed in the previous few years. As world traders embrace sustainable investing methods to an ever larger extent and regulators and policymakers sharpen their deal with ESG-related points, the demand for dependable ESG market measures has soared. And index suppliers have stepped in to satisfy that demand.

Eye-popping ESG index progress over the previous a number of years impressed us to launch the IIA’s first annual ESG survey of world asset managers earlier this yr. The inaugural survey gathered views on a variety of ESG-oriented matters from about 300 asset managers within the United States and Europe. It discovered that 85% of those managers view ESG as a excessive precedence for his or her firms. ESG prioritization is driving asset allocation, with the proportion of ESG property in world portfolios managed by this group anticipated to rise from 26.7% in 12 months to 43.6% in 5 years.

Amid larger ESG adoption, traders need extra and higher instruments to measure their ESG investments. Lack of quantitative knowledge was cited as a problem to ESG implementation by 63% of these surveyed. This yr’s IIA Benchmark Survey outcomes assist these findings: Asset managers overwhelmingly need extra ESG indices in asset courses past equities.

Investor belief is one other key issue within the fast growth of ESG indices out there. According to our ESG survey, 80% of respondents imagine indices assist them direct funding shortly to firms and sectors with robust ESG efficiency. Another 73% imagine that indices enhance comparability in ESG efficiency, and 78% say that indices enhance their confidence in ESG knowledge’s reliability. Amid the fast-evolving nature of many ESG points, three quarters of respondents discover that indices assist them reply shortly to new ESG issues.

Beyond ESG, our benchmark survey uncovered some extra areas for index growth. Again, in a nod to the attraction of multi-asset methods amongst traders, the variety of indices measuring fixed-income markets elevated by nearly 8% YoY. That eclipsed the 7.1% enhance in 2020.

As for ESG and stuck earnings, the survey discovered 61% extra ESG indices within the fixed-income area. There was additionally spectacular progress in high-yield bond indices and complete market or composite bond indices, in addition to fixed-income indices within the Americas.

Chart depicting Fixed-Income related highlights from the IIA Benchmark Survey

Among equities classes, the thematic indices cohort was the one one apart from ESG to show robust progress, with a 27.5% enhance YoY, albeit from a small base. This represents one thing of a shift amongst traders away from good beta towards extra thematic funding approaches to raised entry rising investing developments.

If you imagine as I do that there’s a lag between the creation of indices and the event and sale of such merchandise to traders, the variety of merchandise asset managers will convey to market will likely be on the rise for the following a number of years. The outcomes from our surveys the previous two years level to ESG and stuck earnings as key areas for this progress. As extra quantitative company disclosure knowledge turns into out there, higher ESG benchmarks will likely be created, which can lead asset managers to create higher funding merchandise that replicate traders’ commitments to sustainable finance.

This is the fifth installment of a series from the Index Industry Association (IIA). The IIA will have fun its tenth anniversary in 2022. For extra data, go to the IIA web site at

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All posts are the opinion of the creator. As such, they shouldn’t be construed as funding recommendation, nor do the opinions expressed essentially replicate the views of CFA Institute or the creator’s employer.

Image credit score: ©Getty Images / Aaron McCoy

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Rick Redding, CFA

Rick Redding, CFA, is the chief govt officer at Index Industry Association (IIA), the first-ever commerce group for unbiased index suppliers globally. Prior to his function with IIA, Redding served as managing director and in numerous senior positions guiding product innovation at CME Group.


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