Info providers launch real-time corporate ESG rankings

Switzerland’s ASSET4 and France’s OpenSRI launch on-line ESG research products, Bloomberg planning.

ASSET4, the Swiss sustainability research house, has combined corporate ESG (environmental, social and governance) and financial data into one trading screen it says can be used alongside existing financial screens such as Bloomberg and Reuters, as a growing number of providers target increasing demand for relevant, timely ESG factors in investment decisions.
This week, Paris-based OpenSRI, backed by Intertek, the London-based analysis and testing group, launched a web 2.0 ESG research system, similar to that employed by websites such as Wikipedia. It invites industry watchdogs, investment analysts, NGOs and other stakeholders to input information and data on companies, which is added to its own proprietary research to produce updated sustainability ratings on companies.
Research providers are queuing up to sell real-time information to investors on the potential cost to businesses of issues such as carbon emissions trading or the price of water in light of scarcity in parts of the world as well as company reputation risks such as human rights and labour scandals. European institutional investors say Bloomberg is also planning to launch a similar ESG data service and has been taking soundings in the market.
ASSET4 says its new ‘One-click ESG’ product means investors can compare the performance of the world’s largest companies on 90 key ESG indicators and then weight this alongside existing financial data.The Swiss company, which has already signed ESG information deals with banks including Goldman Sachs and Merrill Lynch, has added a web service called MyNews that it says collates information from 5000 news sources and blogs before analysing and filtering the information to provide an up-to-date company rating. Peter Ohnemus, president and chief executive of ASSET4, said: “We want the integration of ESG information in investment decisions to be easy. The worldwide asset management industry is worth about $55trillion according to McKinsey and mainstream investors spend about $17bn globally on financial information on equity markets. In the SRI space, global spending on information is about $150-200m, which is nothing when you think about the scale of the issues we are talking about. We’ve also added the ability to integrate the quantitative ESG data we produce into existing excel systems where it can be combined with financial parameters such as return on equity and capital deployed by companies.” In September, the company will roll out a product that allows corporates to see how they compare to competitors on ESG issues.
OpenSRI’s new web platform is freely accessible to stakeholders and users post comments on listed companies. The company says both it and participants will monitor and uphold the standard of information produced and that companies will have a right of reply on information.