A study out of Denmark that examined investor preferences shows that women are more willing to forgo returns in order to uphold environment, social and governance goals than men, reports an article in Bloomberg Equality.
The Danske Bank A/S unit Danske Invest conducted the analysis of 2,000 clients. It revealed that 59% of men were willing to invest in companies that ignore sustainability, as long as they produced higher returns, while only 41% of women were willing to do the same.
Denmark is one of the greenest countries in the world, but there has been a growing concern that the boom in ESG assets may not be in line with fears over inflation and geopolitical tensions. And starting this year, financial advisors will have to ask their clients about their sustainability preferences, according to a new rule under Europe’s revised Markets in Financial Instruments Directive. Last year, the Sustainable Finance Disclosure Requirement was put into place to require investment firms to document their ESG allocations. ESG funds are currently underperforming in Europe, down an average of 8.9% this year, compared to the MSCI World Index, which is down 7.5%, according to Bloomberg data.
But the Danske Invest study shows that even that underperformance won’t sway the majority of women from committing to ESG. While men remain skeptical about sustainable investments, with 23% of the men surveyed indicating they thought ESG had a negative effect on returns, only 10% of women felt the same way. And many analysts believe that investors shouldn’t have to choose between sustainability and returns. As Danske Bank senior strategist Natalia Setlak said, “[I]f a company acts responsibly with regard to environmental and social matters, it can be positive for its future business opportunities as many customers are becoming increasingly demanding when it comes to the businesses with which they interact.”