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Deutsche Bank joins ESG cuts by ending corporate governance research

Move comes as investors cite need for increased governance reports.

Deutsche Bank has become the latest in a series of brokers to cut back on specialist ESG (environmental, social and governance) services. The bank told clients that it had discontinued corporate governance research and decommissioned its specialist related website earlier this week. Last week, Responsible Investor revealed that JP Morgan had ended dedicated ESG coverage as a result of staffing cuts and would roll it into mainstream equity research. The week before, it was revealed that Citigroup would also be cutting back its in-house SRI research team. A spokeswoman for Deutsche Bank declined to comment on the end of the corporate governance service and would not say whether research staff would be leaving the company as a result. However, sources close to the bank said Deutsche had decided to focus on environmental research rather than corporate governance in order to save resources. The bank has increasingly been tailoring research to climate change issues backing the strategy of its funds subsidiary, Deutsche Asset Management, which has made environmental themes one of its core investment strategies.In 2004, Deutsche announced that it would start selling tailor-made corporate governance research on FTSE 350 companies. That followed the creation in 2003 of a dedicated ESG research team in New York. The bank also runs part of its ESG analysis out of London. The latest cut of the specialist corporate governance research site comes despite calls by investors for more coverage of governance issues. A report issued earlier this month by Zurich-based research company OnValues on behalf of the Enhanced Analytics Initiative, said that corporate governance research, while progressing in quantity and quality, was still “greatly under-covered relative to its importance.” Prior to its recent merger with the United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment (UNPRI), the EAI, which numbered 30 pension funds, asset managers and brokerage arms of investment banks, carried out a bi-annual evaluation of investment research providers. This identified a recommended shortlist of those producing high-quality extra-financial research to which buy-side members could direct a portion of their research commissions.