Active voting increases as Swiss sustainability hits record high
SWITZERLAND - The sustainable market in Switzerland - with a total investment volume of CHF42bn (€32.6bn) and a 23% growth on the previous year - hit an all-time record high in 2010, according to the 'Sustainable Investments in Switzerland' study published by investment consulting and research company onValues on behalf of the Sustainable Investment Forum (FNG).
Sabine Döbeli, vice-chairwoman at FNG and head of FNG Switzerland, said: "The strength of the sustainable investment market is also mirrored by the development of net new assets. Sustainable funds showed net inflows of around 4% in 2010 compared with a net asset outflow in the same range for the average Swiss fund."
Investment funds accounted for the largest proportion - 58% - of sustainable investments in 2010, an increase of 30.1% compared with the previous year.
Mandates represented 38% of the market, up 18.6%, and structured products 4%, a drop of 18.4% on the previous year. Equity investments remained the most dominant asset class at 63%.
With their market share rising slightly to a total of 57%, private investors further strengthened their market position. However, institutional investors saw their share decline to 43%.
With regard to the use of various sustainable investment approaches, 2010 saw few changes - with one exception.
Ivo Knoepfel, author of the study and managing director of onValues, said: "We saw a significant increase in active voting, for example, the exercising of shareholders' voting rights at annual general meetings.
"This development is also in line with the fact 44% of the banks and asset managers surveyed are planning to exercise their voting rights more actively in the future."
Asset managers in Switzerland once again displayed a strong preference for the best-in-class approach in 2010. The same applies to the use of exclusion criteria relating to sectors such as arms and tobacco, as well as to child labour.
Participants in this year's study were asked for the first time about the use of the integration approach under which environmental, social and governance criteria are integrated into traditional financial analyses.
In total, the study identified CHF5.6bn of assets managed according to this approach.
onValues has been conducting the annual study on since 2005. It estimates the study covers more than 95% of the sustainable investment market in Switzerland.
The study can be downloaded free of charge here.