Vigeo Eiris to free up ESG ratings after moves by MSCI, Sustainalytics

Nearly all major ESG firms claim that their top-line ratings are now freely accessible

Moody’s Vigeo Eiris will make all of its ESG ratings publicly accessible, RI has learned, as data houses and researchers flock to ‘free up’ their sustainability information.  

A spokesperson for Vigeo Eiris, which Moody’s acquired last year, told RI: “ESG assessments and data support investors in the process of identifying risks that historically may not have been covered by fundamental analysis. We also see rising demand for access to high level and granular ESG data from academics and the wider public”.

“The public disclosure of this data is helping to construct an environment where pressure to demonstrate and improve ESG performance is both top down, from investors, and bottom up, from civil society. We will be making our full universe of corporate ESG scores and select ESG metrics public in due course.”

The confirmation comes after ESG data giants Sustainalytics – a subsidiary of US analytics firm Morningstar – and MSCI announced similar moves, with both companies freeing up the ratings of around 4,000 and 10,300 companies respectively.  

Other providers contacted by RI claim that their research is already freely accessible. Marija Kramer, Head of ISS ESG, said that the firm was a “standard-bearer on transparency and the disclosure of ratings” after making its ratings public more than 15 years ago. Today, the firm publicly discloses its high-level ESG scores and best-in-class corporate ratings.

A spokesperson from FTSE Russell said the firm “provides top level ESG Ratings on individual companies for free via several widely used data vendors” such as Factset. He also noted that FTSE publicly releases the meeting notes of its ratings advisory committee.

According to S&P, its new Global ESG scores were made available at launch last year via the SAM Sustainability Yearbook. A spokesperson said that the firm will “continue to look for innovative ways to enhance the transparency around our scoring and evaluation process”.

Zurich-based RepRisk, which uses AI to identify ESG risks, said it was expanding its suite of products and would be making a selection publicly available soon.

Bloomberg ESG, Refinitiv and French firms Novethic and EcoVadis did not respond in time for publication.

FTSE Russell, Sustainalytics and ISS ESG have partnered with the Taiwanese exchanges to provide free access to domestic ESG ratings data, billed at the time as the world’s first “consolidated ESG ratings dashboard available for all market participants”. Vigeo Eiris entered into a similar agreement with the Stock Exchange of Thailand earlier this month.

The industry moves can be seen as a response to longstanding criticisms regarding the lack of convergence in ESG ratings between providers and the quality of the underlying research. However, it is worth noting that the focus of the trend is on ESG scores, not the ESG data and information from which those scores were derived.

In recent weeks, the European Central Bank joined trade groups in lobbying EU regulators for a “single access point” for both corporate financial and sustainability-related data after noting that diverging ESG research was due to “the unavailability of granular information at the corporate level”.

At the same time, a number of market-led initiatives to further standardise and make accessible sustainability data have recently launched, including the climate-focused OS-Climate open source community, a project by State Street to standardise climate metrics, and an SDG data platform by Dutch investors.