Foresight research finds 80% of IFAs see ESG considerations as ‘important’ when building portfolios for their clients

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  • 80% of IFAs believe in the importance of ESG considerations when building client portfolios, including 28% who say it is ‘very important’, a significant increase from 65% in 2020
  • Greatest challenge when delivering advice is the lack of an industry-wide definition of ESG investing, according to 49% of IFAs
  • 45% of respondents say education sessions would encourage them to suggest ESG funds more frequently

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London, 12 October 2021 – Over 80% of IFAs have a very positive view of the importance of ESG in portfolio construction, according to a new study1 by Foresight Group LLP (“Foresight”), a leading independent infrastructure and private equity investment manager.

The research, conducted among over 100 IFAs, revealed that: 80% now say it is important when building client portfolios, including 28% who say it is ‘very important’. These figures represent a significant step change versus last year2, when 65% described this as important

UK retail investors also seem to be adopting the same stance, albeit more gradually. 12% of IFAs say that over half of their clients now express a preference for ESG investing, compared to 9% in 2020. Financial intermediaries remain conscious of their role in the move towards sustainable investing however, with 45% of respondents saying that educations sessions would encourage them to suggest ESG funds more frequently to clients.

Moreover, respondents expect that over half of their clients will be invested in portfolios in which ESG is a core component in an average of about 4.7 years.

Industry standards remain a concern

In terms of delivering advice and selecting suitable ESG strategies for clients, the greatest challenge is the lack of an industry-wide definition of ESG investing, according to 49% of advisers. The lack of an industry-wide gold standard for ESG criteria and a lack of transparency when reporting ESG activity were also each cited by 20% of respondents.

New regulation introduced this year forms part of the EU’s overall ‘Green Deal’ to make the economy sustainable. Whilst it is only applicable to EU funds at present, it does provide a useful backdrop to creating green financial products. Most IFAs (62%) are unconcerned about the impact of the new regulation on ESG fund portfolios, with 38% expressing some concerns.

Real estate offers sustainable option

One asset class with significant sustainability implications is real estate. A significant minority (33%) of IFAs in the research are seeing an increase in appetite for ‘sustainable’ real estate.

The most popular reason for this is the wish to support companies that are speeding up the adoption of sustainable practices, which was cited by 78% of those IFAs who are seeing such an increase. One third of this group (33%) also cite sustainable real estate’s potential to deliver returns that are uncorrelated to global equity markets and 19% credit it to the resilient, consistent yields of the asset class.

From an investment viewpoint, real estate offers reliable, inflation-adjusted returns, including steady rental income, which is highly sought by investors in a world dominated by lower for longer interest rates.

Mark Brennan, Partner at Foresight Capital Management, said: “We are enthused to see that IFAs are increasingly open to joining the global movement towards sustainable investing. Major steps forward have been taken this year in helping companies and investors define what qualifies as a sustainable economic activity or investment, although the investment industry is still some way from providing standard definitions. At Foresight we pride ourselves on being a sustainability-led investment manager, and we are certainly prepared to take on responsibility in helping the investment industry to shape sustainable investing in the future.”


For more information contact:

Citigate Dewe Rogerson (PR to Foresight):

Will Easton: / +44 (0) 7786 420017

1 Research conducted by PollRight among 112 financial advisers between 15th February 2021 and 12th April 2021.

2 Research conducted by PollRight among 124 financial advisers between 21 October and 8 November 2019

Notes to Editors

About Foresight Group LLP (“Foresight”):

Foresight Group was founded in 1984 and is a leading infrastructure and private equity investment manager. With a long-established focus on ESG and sustainability-led strategies, it aims to provide attractive returns to its institutional and private investors from hard-to-access private markets. Foresight manages over 300 infrastructure assets with a focus on solar and onshore wind assets, bioenergy and waste, as well as renewable energy enabling projects, energy efficiency management solutions, social and core infrastructure projects and sustainable forestry assets. Its private equity team manages five regionally focused investment funds across the UK, supporting over 100 SMEs. Its Foresight Capital Management team manages four funds investing in listed real assets with environmental and social benefits, exceeding £1.3 billion Assets Under Management (AUM). Foresight operates from 12 offices across six countries in Europe and Australia with AUM of £7.8 billion as at 30 June 2021. Foresight Group Holdings Limited listed on the Main Market of the London Stock Exchange in February 2021.