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US SRI assets rise 22% to $3.7trn, says membership association

New 2012 Trends Report released.

Sustainable and responsible investing accounted for just over 11% of all assets under management in the US by the end of 2011, according to new figures from the US SIF Foundation.

Its 2012 Trends Report found that $3.74trn (€2.93trn) of a total $33.3trn of US investment assets was held by individuals, institutions and investment companies that practiced socially responsible investment (SRI) strategies.

“This total, an increase of 22% since year end 2009, reflects growing investor interest in considering environmental, community, other societal or corporate governance (ESG) issues to refine how they make decisions as they select and manage their portfolios or raise their voices as shareholders,” the US SIF said in the report for 2012.

“The 2012 Trends report demonstrates that we are moving closer to a sustainable and equitable economy,” said Lisa Woll, Chief Executive of the US SIF.
“From the growth in mutual funds that consider ESG criteria and increased investment in community development banks and credit unions to increasingly large votes on shareholder proposals and the availability of sustainable investment options across asset classes, SRI strategies are on the rise in the US.”

The report says many investors are beginning to develop their in-house capabilities to analyze ESG criteria – which “speaks to the potential for further growth in the US sustainable and responsible investing market”. The figures are based on research conducted in April-July this year.The figures break down into:

  • $3.3trn in US-domiciled assets was held by 443 institutional investors, 272 money managers and 1,000-plus community investing institutions.
  • $1.5trn in US-domiciled assets was held by more than 200 institutions that filed or co-filed resolutions on ESG issues from 2010 through 2012.

The report found that the total net assets of both mutual funds and alternative investment funds that consider ESG criteria increased significantly. Mutual funds account for $641bn, a doubling from 2010 while alternative investment funds are at $132bn, a 250% increase.

A feature of the report is that there has been a significant increase of institutional assets looking at environmental and corporate political contributions/lobbying issues.

Some $636bn of assets are now looking at the environmental – up 43% on the previous report.

And political contributions/lobbying (tracked for the first time by the 2012 survey) are on the radar screen of investors with $459bn.

“The US SIF Foundation’s Report on Sustainable and Responsible Investing Trends in the United States is one of the indispensible resources in our work at the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility,” said the center’s Executive Director Laura Berry.