At 89 per cent, continental Europe has the most asset managers that are signatories of the United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment, according to a new survey by Russell Investments.

While the majority of managers surveyed are UNPRI signatories, participation varies significantly by region. Asia, excluding Japan, has no signatories, while 70 per cent of Japanese asset managers are signatories. Britain (78 per cent) trails the rest of Europe, followed by Australia and New Zealand (75 per cent). In the United States, about half (56 per cent) of asset managers are signatories, followed by 52 per cent in Canada.

Read: U.S. institutional investors petition SEC to regulate ESG disclosure

However, this data doesn’t necessarily correspond with whether asset managers have a person dedicated to responsible investment on their team. Australia and New Zealand (90 per cent) lead the way here, followed by continental Europe (89 per cent), Britain (87 per cent), Japan (70 per cent), Canada (63 per cent) and the U.S. (59 per cent).

Scale affects whether asset managers have a dedicated professional specifically looking at environmental, social and governance issues. Overall, only 36 per cent of firms do so, whereas 92 per cent of firms with more than $500 billion under management have one.

Read: Institutional investors increasingly see ESG as source of alpha: survey

Also, asset managers with $500 billion under management are more likely to be a UNPRI signatory and have an in-house responsible investment policy than firms with less than $10 billion under management.

As well, the survey found a rise in the number of firms that said their primary motivation for integrating ESG is seeking superior risk-adjusted returns. Nearly a third (28 per cent) of respondents said their initial integration of ESG was for that reason, while 32 per cent call it a current primary motivator.

Regarding specific ESG factors, 91 per cent of respondents cited governance as the most important.

Read: Technology companies and integration with ESG a concern for investors

Copyright © 2018 Transcontinental Media G.P. Originally published on benefitscanada.com

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