The strength of SRI in Canada was recently confirmed in the 2010 Socially Responsible Investment Review. This biannual report, which publishes survey results conducted on key aspects of responsible investing in Canada, indicates resiliency of SRI in Canada as the recent economic recession did not significantly weaken the responsible investing landscape. Currently, nearly one-fifth of all assets in Canada, $531 billion, are invested in accordance with socially responsible principle guidelines.
The report is conducted by the Social Investment Organization of Canada (SIO) through a six-month process that includes surveys of money managers and the impact investment provides, along with dissemination of public data. This process allows for an interpretation of SRI’s standing in the investment community, which appears to be increasing awareness of SRI to fund managers, financial advisors, analysts and other members of the financial community.
Responsible investing has been tracked by the SIO since 2000 and this report functions as the only comprehensive study of SRI in Canada that is regularly conducted, proving critical to documenting the landscape of SRI to a variety of stakeholders.
SRI includes a variety of practices and policies, including social and environmental screening, impact investments, ESG integration into asset management decisions, proxy voting, and shareholder engagement.
Pension funds continue to manage a significant portion of socially responsible assets with approximately 85 per cent of the Canadian total. Impact Investing is a key growth segment of responsible investing, maturing from $1.1 billion in 2008 to $4.4 billion in 2010. This includes all investments that balance financial return and a social or environmental objective.
Private asset management firms have also seen potential in SRI, with approximately nine per cent of total investments subjected to social and environmental screening and strategies that integrate non-financial factors into a risk-return investment strategy.
In the end, a clear message emerges from this edition of the 2010 Socially Responsible Investment Review: SRI in Canada is here to stay despite a challenging investment climate.