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The performance of socially responsible investment portfolios

Barwick-Barrett, Matthew 2015. The performance of socially responsible investment portfolios. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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A recent trends report estimates that the total value of US-domiciled assets under management using socially responsible investment (SRI) strategies is $6.57 trillion. This represents more than one out of every six dollars under professional management in the United States (Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment, 2014). In Europe, a recent report by the European Sustainable Investment Forum reports that the total value of European assets under management using SRI strategies is in excess of €6.9 trillion (Eurosif, 2014). Consequently, the importance of SRI to financial practitioners and academics is considerable. This thesis examines the performance, risk and exposures of US SRI indices, UK SRI equity funds (domestic and global) and US SRI funds (large cap, mid-small cap, balanced and bond) to investigate a number of issues relating to the performance of SRI portfolios. The work highlights the potential psychological returns which may be related to investing in SRI funds through shareholder activism and discusses the relationship between the potential risks and returns that are associated with this form of investing. The study finds that the requirement to screen can detrimentally affect the performance of SRI portfolios, but that these effects are more pronounced for UK funds which predominately employ negative screening techniques, than US SRI portfolios (indices and funds) which principally employ positive and restricted screening methodologies. The investigation also discovers that SRI portfolios with smaller investment choice, such as those that can only invest in the UK stock market are more affected by SRI screening than those with large investment universes such as global or US equity funds. This finding is consistent with the smaller investment universe of an SRI fund, making it more likely SRI screening will affect the fund’s performance and risk. Post screening, a fund manager may find it more difficult to purchase assets with the potential to provide a good return or to diversify risk effectively. SRI screening also affects the sector exposures, industry exposures, systematic risk and idiosyncratic risks of UK SRI funds, indicating that screening can result in SRI portfolios holding significantly different assets from conventional funds. In addition, the intensity with which a UK SRI fund screens is shown to significantly affect risk-adjusted performance. Importantly, this study also finds that US SRI funds are more likely to vote affirmatively with shareholder proposals which relate to social and environmental issues than their conventional counterparts and are more likely to vote against company management on these issues. This finding is consistent with SRI investors receiving a psychological return through the shareholder activism of SRI funds. Thesis Supervisor: Dr. Kevin Evans, Senior Lecturer

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Business (Including Economics)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HG Finance
Funders: ESRC
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2016
Last Modified: 21 Oct 2016 05:23

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