Given the fiduciary responsibilities faced by institutional investors, we recognize that the risk and return consequences of various ESG strategies are extremely important as it relates to investment outcomes. Thus, we are particularly interested in the research related to this issue. Both our own research as well as research by others has led us to conclude that certain measures closely related to ESG tenets can be additive to returns and company performance, particularly as it relates to governance and diversity.
We have found that financial metrics related to corporate governance are associated with better investment performance as measured by low accounting accruals; conservative issuance and dilution practices; high profitability; and conservative investment. These metrics have been incorporated in multiple Research Affiliates product suites since 2005 as well as in our dedicated ESG products.
At Research Affiliates, diversity has long been an important topic in our research and in the management of our own business. Diversity in background, education, culture, frame of reference, and experience leads to diversity in thinking and ideas, and strengthens the foundation of our firm. A growing body of literature documents a positive relation between greater diversity and outcomes measured as a level of collective intelligence and firm financial performance.
Whereas an academic consensus on the investment benefits of other ESG factors has not emerged, Research Affiliates believes that thoughtfully designed systematic ESG strategies can improve performance and/or reduce risk while delivering on the objectives of ESG investing.