The great ESG mismatch: New data shows asset management industry is failing to provide the information investors need on ESG

Although there has been a significant increase in both the supply and demand for ESG content created by asset managers in the last 12 months, there remains a gap between the content investors are looking for and the content managers are actually providing, according to new research from Peregrine Communications.

Peregrine’s latest report, ‘Making a Difference, Marketing a Difference’, shows that while there has been a 67 per cent increase globally in ESG related content from asset managers across top tier media in the last 12 months, asset managers routinely provide generic, derivative content to their audiences. The research shows that 34 per cent of the 70 topics assessed in the report are significantly “over-indexed” by the market, with more content provided on these themes than there is organic demand.

In contrast, this latest ESG research also shows where there is unmet investor demand for information – ie “White Space”. Issues where there is significantly more demand for content than there is supply include: measurement and materiality, supply chain transparency, active ownership and private equity.

Other key findings include:

  • The average increase in brand interest for firms with significant ESG exposure is 80 per cent over the last five years - demonstrating a very real ‘brand dividend’ for firms that communicate effectively around ESG
  • Output in specialist ESG and sustainability media outlets has increased by 76 per cent
  • There has been a 63 per cent increase in searches globally for ESG-related content in the last 12 months
  • There has been a 36 per cent increase in social media engagement globally around ESG issues

Anthony Payne, CEO, Peregrine Communications, says: “In this report we have sought to provide a framework by which asset managers can better contribute to the complex ESG conversation in a more meaningful way, a way that better reflects the interests and needs of investors.

“It has become increasingly clear that most asset managers’ audience are not served well by the ESG content provided them. This is why we have built our White Space framework so that asset managers can have more data about which topics their audiences are actually looking for, and ultimately, so that they can build genuine category authority around these topics.”

Max Hilton, managing director, Peregrine Communications, adds: “Our latest research confirms what a lot of people will have already suspected, that the majority of ESG content provided by asset managers is generic and hugely mismatched to the information that their increasingly well-versed audiences need.’