Close Menu Icon
Net Zero Hub
Climate Resilience Hub

Which ESG-related criteria influence investment decisions?

August 31, 2023
Which ESG-related criteria influence investment decisions?

Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) criteria have gained significant importance in influencing investment decisions as investors increasingly recognize the potential impact of non-financial factors on the long-term sustainability and performance of companies.


However, while investment based on environmental, social, and governance (ESG) criteria has gained popularity, the actual amount of assets under management (AUM) that are ESG-related is significantly smaller. The differences in reporting methods, investor behaviors, and the presence of greenwashing contribute to this discrepancy between widely reported estimates of ESG AUM.

Factors that attribute to the discrepancy in ESG assets under management (AUM):

Measurement Challenges: Defining and measuring ESG-related investments can be complex. Different organizations and institutions might use varying criteria and definitions to categorize investments as ESG-related. This leads to inconsistencies in reporting and estimating the total AUM that falls under the ESG umbrella.

Greenwashing: Some institutions might engage in “greenwashing,” which involves portraying investments as more ESG-friendly than they actually are. This can lead to an overestimation of the amount of assets dedicated to ESG investing.

Incomplete Reporting: Some institutions might consider ESG factors in their investment decisions without explicitly declaring an ESG-focused policy. As a result, their ESG-related investments might not be accurately captured in traditional reporting methods.

Varying Levels of Integration: Some investors might incorporate ESG criteria to varying degrees, ranging from fully integrating them into their investment process to only considering them as secondary factors. This diversity in approaches can lead to differing estimates of the total AUM focused on ESG.

Changing Landscape: The popularity of ESG investing has grown rapidly, and the industry is evolving. This can make it challenging to capture an accurate snapshot of the total AUM dedicated to ESG criteria, especially if reporting methods are not keeping up with the pace of change.

Different investors and institutions might prioritize different aspects of ESG criteria based on their values, goals, and risk tolerance.

How to reduce the extent of the discrepancy in reporting ESG assets under management (AUM)?

  • Standardized Reporting Guidelines: Developing standardized reporting guidelines and definitions for ESG-related investments can help ensure consistency across different organizations and institutions. This would make it easier to compare and aggregate data from various sources. Organizations like the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB), and Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) work on developing and promoting standardized frameworks for reporting ESG information. Moreover, Investor groups and networks, such as the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) and the CFA Institute, contribute by advocating for consistent ESG reporting practices. Organizations like the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) Foundation may contribute by providing standardized frameworks that incorporate ESG considerations into financial reporting. All these bodies establish stronger transparency and disclosure requirements for ESG-related investments, which also helps in greenwashing
  • Independent Verification: Implementing third-party verification or certification processes for ESG-related investments can provide a more objective assessment of an investment’s alignment with ESG criteria. Independent audits or certifications can enhance the credibility of reported figures.
  • Clear Metrics and Reporting: Institutions could be encouraged to provide more granular information about the specific ESG criteria they consider and how these criteria influence their investment decisions. Clear and detailed reporting can enhance accuracy and comparability.
  • Education and Awareness: Educating investors, institutions, and the general public about ESG concepts, definitions, and measurement methodologies can improve the understanding of ESG investing. This can lead to more informed investment decisions and more accurate reporting.
  • Regular Reviews and Updates: Given the rapidly evolving nature of the ESG landscape, regularly reviewing and updating reporting methods, criteria, and definitions can help keep reporting practices aligned with the changing industry trends.

Achieving complete accuracy might remain a challenge due to the inherent complexities associated with ESG criteria and reporting. Our upcoming Certified Training Programs help you gain a comprehensive understanding of the complexities surrounding ESG reporting, including measurement challenges, greenwashing, and evolving industry dynamics. CSE is an accredited training provider by GRI, SASB, CMI, PRI & CPD and its Programs help C-suite managers and Board Members to enhance transparency, credibility, and investor relations, manage risks, gain a competitive edge, create long-term value, engage stakeholders, ensure regulatory compliance, attract and retain talent, optimize supply chains, and guide strategic decisions!

Our upcoming Programs:

USA | Certified Sustainability (ESG) Practitioner Program, Advanced Edition 2023, Digital Version with Live Zoom Sessions on Sept. 21-22 & 25, 2023

Canada | Certified Sustainability (ESG) Practitioner Program, Leadership Edition 2023, Digital Version with Live Zoom Sessions on October 19-20 & 23, 2023


Organizations that trust us