Nearly one out of every eight dollars under professional management in the United States today — 12.2 percent of the $25.2 trillion in total assets under management tracked by Thomson Reuters Nelson — is involved in some strategy of socially responsible and sustainable investing, according to a new study.

Despite the recent economic downturn, sustainable and socially responsible investing in the United States is continuing to grow at a faster pace than the total universe of investment assets under professional management, according to the new 2010 edition of the Social Investment Forum Foundation’s Report on Socially Responsible Investing Trends in the United States.   

The report found that the pool of assets engaged in SRI strategies — the use of environmental, social and governance criteria, shareholder advocacy and community investing — has grown more rapidly than the overall investment universe due to such factors as net inflows into existing SRI products, the development of new SRI products, and the adoption of SRI strategies by managers and institutions not previously involved in the field.

Since 2005, SRI assets have increased more than 34 percent while the broader universe of professionally managed assets has increased only 3 percent. From the start of 2007 to the end of 2009, a three-year period when broad market indices such as the S&P 500 declined and the broader universe of professionally managed assets increased less than 1 percent, assets involved in sustainable and socially responsible investing increased more than 13 percent  (from $2.71 trillion to $3.07 trillion).

The total value of assets managed under policies that explicitly incorporate environmental, social and governance criteria into investment analysis and portfolio construction are valued at $2.51 trillion. Of these ESG assets, $691.9 billion were identified within specific investment vehicles managed by money managers, while at least $2.03 trillion were identified as owned or administered by institutional investors.

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