Passive ESG Portfolio Management—The Benchmark Strategy for Socially Responsible Investors

Julian Amon, Margarethe Rammerstorfer, Karl Weinmayer

Publication: Scientific journalJournal articlepeer-review

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In this article, we investigate the notion of doing well while doing good from the perspective of passive portfolio strategies. We analyze a number of asset allocation strategies based on ESG-weighting and compare their financial and ESG performance for the US and Europe. We find no significant difference in the financial performance but superior ESG performance of ESG-based strategies. It can be concluded that, compared to a naive strategy, socially responsible investors are willing to pay a small premium for the impact of the portfolio via transaction costs when rebalancing the portfolio according to their preferences for social responsibility. In addition, when comparing the ESG-based strategies to a value-weighted strategy, we observe no significant difference in ESG performance but a high degree of significance in the superior financial performance of the ESG-based strategy. We also analyze the strategies with regards to the factor loadings given by the Fama–French five-factor model and a sixth factor denoted GMB (Good minus Bad) and find significant differences across the regions and strategies. Overall, the results show strong support of ESG-based strategies being preferred by socially responsible investors but also suggest that such strategies might be preferred by conventional investors looking for a passively managed alternative compared to a value-weighted index. Furthermore, it seems that such a strategy might be a more adequate benchmark for active SRI funds.
Original languageEnglish
Issue number16
Publication statusPublished - 2021

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