【Morningstar】Passive Sustainable Funds: The Global Landscape 2020


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Choice expands as products and assets double in three years.

Executive Summary

Building on the success of the first installment of this paper1, in this report we assess the global landscape of passive sustainable funds to illuminate the choices currently available to investors globally. We focus on the two regions where these funds have seen the greatest adoption, Europe and the United States.

Key Takeaways

× As of June 30, 2020, there were 534 sustainable index mutual funds and exchange-traded funds globally, with collective assets under management of $250 billion. Both the number of products and the money invested in them have more than doubled over the past three years.

× Europe remains the largest market for sustainable passive funds, accounting for more than three fourths of global assets. The U.S. represents 20%, up from 13% three years ago.

× For all the growth in global assets, the development of the passive sustainable fixed-income space remains at an embryonic stage, particularly outside of Europe.

× The universe of passive sustainable funds represents a broad range of approaches addressing various sustainability and investment objectives. In this paper, we have subdivided the sustainable passive universe into smaller groupings: Exclusions-Only, Broad ESG, and Thematic. There is often a trade-off between sustainability exposure and tracking error.

× While passive sustainable funds tend to charge higher fees than their plain-vanilla peers, in some markets, investors can now choose from an expanding range of sustainable fund options with little or no fee premium versus their conventional counterparts.

× Key considerations for investors when choosing a passive sustainable fund include sustainability focus, approach, data metrics, sector and geographic biases, tracking error, and fees. Selecting a responsible asset manager who votes company shares and engages with companies on a variety of environmental, social, and governance issues is also important.