Friday 30th September 2016                 Change text size:

Swiss pension fund members back sustainable investment strategies



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A survey has revealed that the majority of pension fund members in Switzerland support and recognise the benefits of sustainable investment strategies. The findings highlight the growing movement to incorporate environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors into investment decisions.

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The survey, which was conducted by sustainable investment specialists RobecoSAM, asked over 1,200 Swiss pension members about their views on sustainable investment. Some 72% of those surveyed believed that their pension fund should take account of financially material ESG factors when making investments.

Whilst sustainable investment has ethical benefits, those questioned also recognised that incorporating ESG elements into the decision making process could bring financial gains. Almost three quarters of respondents said they thought that sustainable investment strategies lead to more prudent investment decisions, whilst 79% said it resulted in better long-term investment decisions.

In order to maximise financial benefits, many pension savers want their funds to invest in companies that offer solution to sustainability challenges, such as water scarcity, food scarcity, energy shortage and the availability of raw or basic materials.

Michael Baldinger, CEO of RobeccoSAM, commented, “The mandate from pension fund members is clear: 72% of the pension fund members surveyed in Switzerland want their pension fund to consider financially material ESG factors in their investments.

“Pension fund members are also convinced that the inclusion of ESG criteria leads to more prudent and better long-term investment decisions.“

The ethical and social side of sustainable investment was also highlighted in the survey. Over eight in 10 participants said that pension funds should not invest in companies that breech human rights, fail to abide to environmental protection guidelines or fail to provide protection for their employees. By taking such investment strategies, 82% added that pension funds could also meet their social responsibilities.

The findings of the RobecoSAM survey are similar to that of a recent UK-based poll. The National Association of Pension Funds found that almost half of savers value ethics over returns and 70% of the UK public feel it is important for pension providers to invest in companies that concentrate on avoiding unethical practices.

Photo: Simon Cunningham via Flickr  

Further reading:

Budget 2014: Pensions shake-up divides industry – but may boost sustainable investment

ShareAction calls for legal changes to create responsible pension investment

Prince Charles: pensions industry ‘has a duty’ to be sustainable

‘Urgent action’ required to protect pension savings from climate change

The Guide to Sustainable Investment 2014


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