Embedding ESG factors into mainstream investing

In mid-2017, Swiss Re, the world’s second largest re-insurance company, announced they had begun to integrate Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) factors into their investment decision making processes. By the end of 2017, Swiss Re expects that all investment decisions impacting their entire USD130bn global portfolio will be based on ESG and related ethical factors.

Swiss Re’s decision did not occur in isolation. In the last three years, the impact of ESG factors on investment decision making has begun to move to the mainstream in the insurance, investment and finance sectors. This article canvasses some of the latest developments in this area.

Before analysing the benefits of ESG factors, it is important to understand what ESG actually is.

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