This article originally appeared on the Wall Street Journal on May 12, 2021.
Workers with pensions or 401(k)s trust financial institutions to make the best investments for their retirement incomes. An increasing number of portfolio managers say they maximize returns with their Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance, or ESG, investment criteria. But is that true, and is it the proper role of financial institutions?
A recent analysis by Scientific Beta disputes “claims that ESG funds have tended to outperform the wider market.” Sony Kapoor, managing director of the Nordic Institute for Finance, Technology and Sustainability, a think tank, told the Financial Times that the research “puts in black and white what is only whispered in the corridors of finance—most ESG investing is a ruse to launder reputations, maximize fees and assuage guilt.”
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