Applying nonfinancial selection criteria to investment decisions, where such criteria relate to social, political, environmental or ethical objectives, has existed for over 100 years. This style investing has traditionally been labeled socially responsible investing (SRI) and includes the processes of screaming portfolios, engaging management through shareholder advocacy programs, community investing and social venture capital.
Some funds also employ "screening-in" techniques, which seek to identify companies that employ positive environmental policies or human rights programs.
In Canada, the market for SRI is over $50 billion in institutional and mutual fund assets,(1) representing approximately 4% of total assets professionally managed and 50 funds. The SRI asset base is growing at 40% per year, compared to the non-SRI growth rate of less than 15% per year. Though growing rapidly, the Canadian SRI asset base is substantially below SRI activity in the United States, which represents over US$2.2 trillion in SRI assets (13% of total assets)/and the 300 funds in Europe utilizing SRI strategies.
Numerous studies and surveys have dearly shown that investor interest in environmental social and governance issues has increased dramatically in the past five years. In addition, it has become clear that investor sophistication has evolved beyond the relatively simple process of excluding companies that are engaged in certain "nonethical" businesses. ...