Sustainability and Private Wealth Investment Flows
73 Pages Posted: 11 May 2020 Last revised: 25 Feb 2021
Date Written: February 24, 2021
This study examines the effect of sustainability ratings on wealthy retail investors’ asset allocation decisions. Using a proprietary dataset of monthly equity and bond holdings of European private wealth investors, we document significantly larger investment flows into assets with high sustainability ratings compared to those with low ratings. We further find that investors react to changes in sustainability ratings of their portfolio assets by rebalancing their portfolios towards assets with higher sustainability ratings. Exploiting a quasi-exogenous shock to the salience of sustainability ratings we document a plausibly causal effect of assets' sustainability ratings on wealthy retail investors' investment decisions. We do not find that the larger investments into assets with high sustainability ratings can be explained by differences in attention or news flow, or that they lead to significant differences in financial performance.
Keywords: Retail investors, household finance, sustainable investing, ESG, private wealth, private banking, investment flows
JEL Classification: G11, G14, G15, G29, G41, G50
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