Despite decades of competitive returns, a “myth” persists that sustainable and impact investment strategies financially underperform conventional strategies. The myth should be dead.

We recently conducted a fresh review of the academic and practitioner literature on this topic. Sampling from 2,200 reports published over the past few decades, our review provides assurance that applying an ESG lens is consistent with fiduciary duty. (We would argue that it is essential to fiduciary duty.)

Our review also highlights that the effect of sustainable and impact strategies on a portfolio will depend upon the asset class, investment style, and especially the skill and expertise of the manager.

In this note, we seek to describe the consensus view among all studies identified in the bibliography at the end of the report, and where possible we provide some insight into the relevance of specific research for investment decisions. We organize the results according to asset class, and where relevant (i.e., for public equities and fixed income), we look at different applications of ESG analysis. We also highlight the discipline we at Cornerstone take in evaluating the ESG approach of the investment managers we recommend.

Download our full report Sacrifice Nothing.