ESG Investing

ESG Unearthed: Investing with Impact

ESG Unearthed: Investing with Impact

“The first rule of sustainability is to align with natural forces, or at least not try to defy them” ― Paul Hawken

3 min read

ESG Unearthed

ESG Unearthed: Investing with Impact

“The first rule of sustainability is to align with natural forces, or at least not try to defy them” ― Paul Hawken

3 min read

Over time, trends emerge and evolve as investors seek to align their portfolios with their values and goals, or what they believe will make the most profit. One such trend that has taken centre stage in recent years is Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) investing. This approach considers a range of factors beyond traditional financial metrics when evaluating investments, which can have both positive and negative impacts on your portfolio. 

Before you ask, we are not here to tell you ESG is the best thing since sliced bread. That decision is up to you in consultation with your Patterson Mills Financial Adviser. What you will discover reading this article is exactly what ESG means, the pros and cons, how to decide whether it fit can within your investment strategy and more. So, read on to find out if this trend is worth you following, or not.

What is ESG?

ESG, which stands for Environmental, Social, and Governance, represents a framework for evaluating companies based on their performance in areas such as environmental sustainability, social responsibility, and corporate governance (including how companies treat their employees). ESG investing is about seeking financial returns while supporting businesses that demonstrate ethical behavior and contribute positively to society and the planet.

This approach doesn’t just look at profit and loss statements; it also considers a company’s impact on the environment, its relationships with employees and communities, and its overall management practices. ESG investing is often seen as a way to promote long-term sustainability and responsible business conduct.

ESG investing is often paired with “SRI”, and you may have seen the term ESG-SRI. SRI stands for “Socially Responsible Investing”. It is an invesment strategy that focuses on generating financial returns whilst also considering the ESG factors associated with a company or an investment. SRI aims to align investments with one’s personal values and ethical beliefs by avoiding or supporting companies and industries based on their social and environmental practices, which is why ESG and SRI are often seen together.

The Advantages

Aligning Values and Investments: ESG investing provides a unique opportunity to align your investment choices with your personal values. If you’re passionate about issues like climate change, social equality, or corporate ethics, ESG investments can help you support causes you believe in whilst potentially earning returns.

Potential for Strong Financial Performance: Numerous studies suggest that companies with robust ESG practices tend to outperform their peers over the long term. Whilst past performance doesn’t guarantee future results, this correlation between ESG and financial performance is a promising sign for investors in this sector.

Reduced Risk: Companies with strong ESG practices are often better equipped to handle risks associated with environmental, social, and governance factors. By investing in these firms, you may reduce your exposure to potential financial setbacks.

The Disadvantages

Lack of Standardisation: ESG metrics and ratings can vary widely among different providers, leading to inconsistencies and confusion. This lack of standardisation can make it challenging for investors to compare ESG performance across companies accurately. Often, it can be so complex that investors just give up.

Limited Investment Universe: By focusing on ESG criteria, investors may exclude entire sectors or industries from their portfolios. This can result in missed opportunities if a company in an excluded sector is genuinely improving its ESG practices whilst providing enhanced investment returns.

Data Accuracy and Reliability: The quality of ESG data can vary, and companies may not always provide accurate information. Investors need to scrutinise data sources and the methodologies used by ESG rating agencies.

How to Determine if it is Right for You

Deciding whether ESG investing should be a part of your investment strategy depends on your financial goals, values, and risk tolerance.

Here are some steps to help you determine if ESG investing aligns with your investment objectives:

  1. Assess Your Values and Priorities:

    • Consider what social and environmental issues matter most to you. ESG investing allows you to support causes you believe in, such as climate change mitigation, social cohesion, or corporate responsibility.
  2. Define Your Financial Goals:

    • Determine your short-term and long-term financial objectives. ESG investments should align with your goals, whether it’s retirement planning, buying a home, or funding education.
  3. Risk Tolerance:

    • Assess your risk tolerance. ESG investments, like any other investments, carry risks. Understand that returns can vary, and it’s essential to be comfortable with the level of risk associated with your chosen ESG investments.
  4. Research and Education:

    • Educate yourself about ESG investing. Learn the basics of how it works, the different approaches (e.g., exclusionary screening, positive screening, thematic investing), and the impact you can make through your investments.
  5. Consult with a Financial Adviser:

    • Consider seeking advice from a Financial Adviser with knowledge about ESG investing. They can help you understand how ESG aligns with your financial objectives and risk tolerance.
  6. Review Investment Options:

    • Explore ESG investment options such as ESG-focused mutual funds, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), or individual stocks of companies that meet your ESG criteria.
  7. Performance Expectations:

    • Understand that ESG investments may perform differently from traditional investments. Review historical performance data, but remember that past performance does not guarantee future results.
  8. Diversification:

    • Diversify your investment portfolio to spread risk. ESG investments can be a part of a diversified strategy that includes different asset classes.
  9. Monitor and Adjust:

    • Regularly review your ESG investments to ensure they continue to align with your values and financial goals. Make adjustments if needed.
  10. Stay Informed:

    • Stay informed about changes in ESG practices, standards, and regulations, as these can impact your investments.

The Costs

Like any investment strategy, ESG investing comes with costs. These costs may include management fees associated with ESG funds, expenses for ESG research, and potential trading costs. It’s essential to review these fees carefully to ensure they align with your overall financial plan as you can sometimes be faced with higher costs than other more common methods of investing due to the enhanced screening that takes place to ensure your funds do meet ESG criteria.

Understanding "Greenwashing"

Greenwashing is a deceptive marketing practice used by some companies to make themselves appear more environmentally friendly or socially responsible than they truly are. It involves exaggerating or misrepresenting a company’s ESG efforts to attract socially conscious investors. To navigate the world of ESG investments effectively, it’s crucial to be vigilant and conduct thorough research to distinguish genuine ESG leaders from companies engaging in greenwashing.

To Add ESG or Not to Add ESG, That is the Question

ESG investing is a dynamic and evolving approach that allows investors to align their portfolios with their values and support businesses that prioritise sustainability and ethical practices. However, it’s essential to be aware of the advantages and disadvantages of ESG investing and to conduct thorough research before making investment decisions. By considering your values, financial goals, and consulting with a qualified Patterson Mills Financial Adviser, you can create an ESG investment strategy that reflects your principles and aspirations for a more sustainable and responsible financial future.

What are you waiting for? Get in touch with us today and book your initial, no-cost and no-obligation meeting. Just send us an e-mail to or call us direct at +41 21 801 36 84 to ensure your money is only going to investments that align with your values.

Please note that all information within this article has been prepared for informational purposes only. This article does not constitute financial, legal or tax advice. Always ensure you speak to a regulated Financial Adviser before making any financial decisions.