Sustainable or responsible investing started as a “fringe” concept adopted by a few mutual funds in the early 1980s. Today, sustainable investing has transformed the investment industry in ways that were unforeseeable even a few years ago. In 2019, there are thousands of mutual and exchange-traded funds applying some variant of sustainable investing with over $12 trillion under management in the United States and $2.1 trillion in Canada alone. Sustainable investing practices are now widely adopted by public pension funds, retirement plans, sovereign wealth funds, private equity funds, universities, and foundations. Most Wall Street firms now offer sustainable financial products to their retail and institutional clients. During the past decade, sustainable assets under management have grown twice as fast as conventional assets under management, and approximately 25% of investments in the US are now subject to some form of sustainable investing mandate. Not only has the industry expanded in scale but also in scope, undergoing an evolution in its investment approach that has taken it from negative to positive screening. This talk will provide an overview of the ongoing realignment of the investment industry towards a more sustainable approach driven by the three pillars of the Brundtland Report: People, Planet, & Profit.
Amr Addas is Adjunct Professor at the Department of Finance and the Director of the Van Berkom Small-Cap Investment Management Program at the John Molson School of Business, Concordia University.