ESG Leaders of Today Need to Develop a Brand for Tomorrow
The uncertainty in the world is reaching a fever pitch. Covid-19 cases are rising around the world leading to large-scale economic shutdowns and the pending U.S. Presidential election results are causing many to lose sleep. But with the backdrop that is 2020 chaos, ESG investing has risen to the top of manager and investor agendas. According to Deloitte, professional investors could have 50% of their investments in ESG assets in the next five years. And in the U.S., net flows to long-term responsible funds quadrupled in 2019 to $20 billion, from $5 billion in 2018, and continued to grow during the first half of 2020 to reach $21 billion in just the first six months.
For many dedicating their resources and capital to providing meaningful change through investing, the global pandemic, coinciding with a deserved focus on Black Lives Matter and social justice movements, has created an urgent call to action. Today the opportunity is probably no greater for ESG leaders to define their brand and to elevate their positioning.
The media is finally catching pace with investors and allocators around demand for such investing strategies, but the foundation from which ESG has been built on has deep roots, and therefore it’s important that as ESG leaders seek visibility, they look beyond the short-term headlines of the election and its aftermath.
The election, timely and relevant, creates a news moment to share perspectives around the future of ESG investing, but in order to make the transition from industry expert to thought leader, having a strong perspective or point of view around the future of ESG investing and what trends will drive its future, is essential.
Today’s virtual world has expedited reporter fatigue. They’re bombarded with pitches and competing with a 24/7 news cycle, while also managing through the challenges of their own work from home environment. Further, the landscape is getting crowded. More companies are looking for more visibility to drive business results. And as geopolitical and economic factors change rapidly, content has a shorter life span. While the opportunity for ESG investor visibility has never been greater, the environment has also never been more challenging.
Last week, Bloomberg compiled insights from the industry’s top ESG investors including GSAM, Man Group, Lazard and Nuveen on their outlook for 2021. As ESG investing becomes increasingly mainstream, the demand to differentiate and amplify investing experts into industry thought leaders will only increase. Thought leaders must be bold and unique, highly convicted and well researched with data that's packaged with interesting insights and observations about the market environment, while also being flexible to reporter’s fluid schedules and demands and poignant while keeping an eye on the horizon.
Today’s ESG industry leaders can become industry laggards if they don’t stay on top of their brand and position themselves for the future.