EIRiS sees pension funds’ ESG interest grow

EUROPE - UK think-tank Ethical Investment Research Services (EIRiS) is in talks with several UK local authority pension funds and Benelux schemes.

Lisa Hayles, senior client relationship manager at EIRiS, told IPE today: "We are discussing work with some UK local authority pension funds who have expressed an interest in portfolio reviews, identifying ESG [environment, social and governance] risks in their portfolio."

She added: "In the Benelux countries we have worked more with fund managers than with pension funds, but we are now also getting queries direct from the asset owners."

EIRiS, which provides independent research into the ESG performance of companies, has had discussions with some large pension funds in the Netherlands, Hayles says. It is currently in contact with pension funds in Belgium.

The London-based think-tank assumes that part of this increase in interest is driven by the principles for responsible investments, designed to persuade institutional investors to adopt a more conscious attitude towards responsible and sustainable investments.

"There's always been a core of trustees of some local authority pension funds that have been interested in and debated these issues, but the international initiative has reinvigorated that debate and bring in a few more pension funds to the table," commented Hayles.

The news came as EIRiS published its latest study looking at the global corporate response to ESG.

The study found that responsible practices in the fields of, for instance, the environment, equal opportunities, human rights and the supply chain are increasingly being adopted by companies, particularly by large companies, worldwide.

However, North American companies fall significantly behind Europe in terms of addressing ESG impacts.

According to the author of the report, Bob Gordon, the main reason for Europe's pole position was stricter regulation and more pressure from responsible investors.

With regard to Europe, Scandinavia and the UK are leading the way in terms of ESG, he told IPE.

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