It’s exciting to see the growth in demand for SRI branded funds in the recent past. Responsible Investor reports that SRI assets in France jumped by more than 70% in the year 2009. “SRI retail asset growth was highest at 111% growth over the year to reach €15.6bn”. Phenomenal growth, considering the European and French economies were just dragging themselves out of a recession. “The institutional rise came despite the absence of any large mandates in the market in 2009” reports RI. Perhaps the financial crisis actually sped a flight to more responsible assets; toward investments that consider a triple bottom line. Perhaps investors are beginning to perceive SRI investments such that they lower risk by incorporating greater ESG awareness, and could go a long way in avoiding corporate governance failure? The author certainly believes so. Growth in SRI supply can also be seen to be on the rise as investors become aware of new opportunities which are being driven by global sustainability challenges. Business is international and investors perceive the global opportunity that lies ahead. Emerging markets certainly present themselves in this light, albeit specific barriers do exist. One question that begs an answer is; do investors actually believe that SRI funds can deliver benchmark returns? Or are they merely investing a portion of total assets to them help sleep at night?


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Disclosure: Responsible Investor is strategic ESG media partner of AfricaSIF.