EUROPE - Almost 90% of buyside firms plan to increase their socially responsible investment (SRI) or sustainability asset allocation in the coming year, according to the latest Thomson Reuters Extel and UKSIF SRI and Sustainability survey.

The survey also found that buyside companies are placing more emphasis on sustainability issues in the research and advisory services they receive from brokers.

Penny Shepherd MBE, chief executive of sustainable investment and finance association UKSIF, said: "The investment community is increasingly looking at sustainable investment themes as the ones that offer best potential for significant growth, while effective management of sustainability risks and opportunities is becoming central to profitability in many industry sectors."

The survey found Threadneedle Asset Management to be the top fund management company for SRI, ahead of Aviva Global Investors and BlackRock Investment Management.

The top brokerage firm for SRI research and long-term thematic research was Société Générale, whereas the leading brokerage for integrated research on climate change and renewable energy research was HSBC.

Oddo Securities came out on top as the leading brokerage for corporate governance research, while Royal Dutch Shell was the leading quoted company for sustainability communications.

Steve Kelly, global head of Thomson Reuters Extel Surveys, said investors were increasingly focusing on investment that was environmentally and socially sustainable.

"The BP oil spill has catapulted discussion about environmental, social and governance issues and SRI investment onto the front pages, but this is not some new phenomenon," he said.

"The demand from fund managers for intelligent, well-argued SRI analysis has been strong for some time and is still growing.

"The opportunities for firms and individuals best able to provide integrated and detailed SRI analysis are therefore huge."

The 2010 survey represents the views of more than 450 investment professionals from 16 countries, including a contribution from 254 buyside firms and 42 brokerage firms/research houses.