US investment consultants form joint working group to advance sustainable investing

May 2021

Representing over $33 trillion in assets under advisement, group to provide perspective on ESG and climate-related reporting, stewardship, and regulation

Fourteen institutional investment consulting firms in the US, with worldwide assets under advisement totaling more than USD 33 trillion (as reported by each member firm to ICSWG-US as of 4/30/2021), have established the Investment Consultants Sustainability Working Group – US (ICSWG-US). The aim of this cooperative is to promote and improve sustainable investment practices across the investment industry.

Sarah Bernstein, Managing Principal, Consultant and Co-head of the ESG Investing Committee at Meketa Investment Group says: “Meketa initiated the ICSWG-US group, inspired by our peers in the UK, to better support our clients in addressing the critical sustainability investment issues of our times.  We welcome the opportunity to collaborate with our peers to encourage and advance sustainable investment practices, transparency and consistency to generate long-term investment returns, through the collective voice of the institutional investment consulting community.”

For many, 2020 proved to be an inflection point for sustainable investing and environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues. Interest in climate change, diversity, equity and inclusion and other ESG issues is at an all-time high among US investors. Given the power of investment and finance to influence sustainability issues now and in the future, we believe collaboration to promote sustainability will accelerate and initiate greater change within the industry.

The ICSWG-US aspires to:

  • Engage across a broad range of stakeholders, including asset owners, asset managers and regulators;
  • Seek investment outcomes that are genuinely sustainable and not a tick-the-box exercise;
  • Align with and support existing industry bodies and initiatives;
  • Support clients who lack the resources to engage directly with industry initiatives;
  • Create a guiding set of principles that identify good practice with practical advice; and
  • Be a body where regulators, policymakers and other stakeholders can seek input when they need a view from investment consultants.

The group has initially identified three individual workstreams it deems critical to sustainability: Reporting, Stewardship and Regulation.

ICSWG-US recognizes that sustainability efforts are ongoing at a number of industry organizations, and internal initiatives continue at each of the 14 member organizations. The group will continue to support those initiatives. ICSWG-US believes that collaboration among its stakeholders will further empower asset owners and lead to better sustainable investment practices across the investment industry.

All members of the ICSWG-US provide investment consultancy to US asset owners. While some of the firms’ activities extend to other services, clients or jurisdictions, these will fall outside of the group’s scope. Member firms will take appropriate measures to avoid any conflicts of interest between the group’s work and these other activities and will ensure that the group’s activities are conducted in accordance with all applicable laws.