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SRI funds ‘lacking courage’

December 2002

Managers of socially responsible investment funds have been accused of timidity because of their obsession with comparisons between their performance and that of mainstream indices.

Ewoud Goudswaard, general manager of Dutch-based ASN Bank, says measuring performance against non-SRI indices is encouraging an unnecessarily ‘safe’ approach.

‘Benchmarking against indices is leading increasingly to risk-averse and predictable SRI portfolios,’ he told the Triple Bottom Line Investing conference in Brussels. ‘SRI fund managers must have the courage to take clear ethical and sustainable viewpoints and act according to their own opinions, not to look over their shoulder at others.’

Goudswaard’s bank manages €551million ($556m, £352m) using SRI techniques and runs one of the largest such funds in Europe. His views were echoed by Carlos Joy, senior vice president of Storebrand Investments, who told the conference: ‘There’s little courage or independent thinking in the SRI investment community and there’s a slavish reliance on marking our performance relative to well-known indices.’




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