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Top View of Trees

Responsible investing

“We prefer investments in green bonds and equity and fixed income strategies that favor ESG leaders,” says Amy O’Brien, Head of Nuveen Responsible Investing.

Responsible investing (RI) = Performance + risk management.


Best ideas: We prefer investments in green bonds and equity and fixed income strategies that favor ESG leaders. We also suggest a focus on specialized RI strategies such as low carbon, ESG municipals and other strategies customized to help meet investor preferences.

  • Investor demand and overall growth have soared— and performance is why investors are buying. Per Nuveen’s research, Responsible Investing (RI) assets under management grew nearly 40% from $8.7 trillion in 2016 to $12 trillion in 2018. For the fourth year in a row, our Annual Responsible Investing survey has revealed continuing strong interest in responsible investing among investors, particularly millennials (93% of millennials vs. 78% of nonmillennials). And, for the first time, the top reason for investing in RI is “better performance” (49%) followed by “align with my values” (44%).

  • Public scrutiny on responsible business practices is a driving force for RI. 2018 has been a year of corporate scandals. The “governance” (G) in environmental, social, and governance (ESG) is designed to manage and mitigate downside risk. As companies navigate new pitfalls—from data security breaches to business ethics to #MeToo controversies—using alternative data sets such as ESG in valuation models can help spot risks that other analyses might overlook.
  • ESG data make the intangible tangible. Traditional valuation models like discounted cash flow can help assess financial risks, but they often lack the ability to capture the complete picture. Intangible assets— which are impacted by financially material ESG risks and opportunities—now comprise as much as 87% of the market value of the S&P 500, according to merchant bank Ocean Tomo. We’ve been able to identify breakthrough ideas with our proprietary views on materiality and engagement for uniform quality ESG data (market, policy and company). 

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Nuveen's Global Investment Committee brings together our most senior investment leaders from across the firm.
Data Source: FactSet and Bloomberg for market and economic data

The views and opinions expressed are for informational and educational purposes only as of the date of production/writing and may change without notice at any time based on numerous factors, such as market or other conditions, legal and regulatory developments, additional risks and uncertainties and may not come to pass. This material may contain “forward-looking” information that is not purely historical in nature. Such information may include, among other things, projections, forecasts, estimates of market returns, and proposed or expected portfolio composition. Any changes to assumptions that may have been made in preparing this material could have a material impact on the information presented herein by way of example. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Investing involves risk; principal loss is possible.

All information has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but its accuracy is not guaranteed. There is no representation or warranty as to the current accuracy, reliability or completeness of, nor liability for, decisions based on such information and it should not be relied on as such.

The Bloomberg Barclays Municipal Bond Index covers the USD-denominated long-term tax-exempt bond market. The index has four main sectors: state and local general obligation bonds, revenue bonds, insured bonds and pre-refunded bonds. The Bloomberg Barclays High Yield Corporate Bond Index is an unmanaged index considered representative of non-investment-grade bonds. The MSCI ACWI (All Country World Index) is a free float-adjusted market-capitalization-weighted index that is designed to measure the equity market performance of developed and emerging markets. The S&P 500 Index is a capitalization-weighted index of 500 stocks designed to measure the performance of the broad domestic economy. Nuveen’s Third Annual Responsible Investing Survey: Nuveen commissioned Harris Poll and was conducted online from June 1 - 27, 2017 among 1,012 affluent investors. (U.S. residents over age 21 with $100,000 in investable assets (excluding workplace defined contribution accounts or real estate), who consider themselves the decision maker for financial decisions and who currently work with a financial advisor). A covenant is a promise in an indenture, or any other formal debt agreement, that certain activities will or will not be carried out. Algorithmic trading refers to automated trading by computers which are programmed to take certain actions in response to varying market data. Alpha is a measure of performance on a risk-adjusted basis. Middle market refers to medium-sized businesses (neither small nor large).

A word on risk
All investments carry a certain degree of risk and there is no assurance that an investment will provide positive performance over any period of time. Equity investing involves risk. Foreign investments are also subject to political, currency and regulatory risks. These risks may be magnified in emerging markets. Diversification is a technique to help reduce risk. There is no guarantee that diversification will protect against a loss of income. Investing in municipal bonds involves risks such as interest rate risk, credit risk and market risk, including the possible loss of principal. The value of the portfolio will fluctuate based on the value of the underlying securities. There are special risks associated with investments in high yield bonds, hedging activities and the potential use of leverage. Portfolios that include lower rated municipal bonds, commonly referred to as “high yield” or “junk” bonds, which are considered to be speculative, the credit and investment risk is heightened for the portfolio. Credit ratings are subject to change. AAA, AA, A, and BBB are investment grade ratings; BB, B, CCC/CC/C and D are below-investment grade ratings. As an asset class, real assets are less developed, more illiquid, and less transparent compared to traditional asset classes. Investments will be subject to risks generally associated with the ownership of real estate-related assets and foreign investing, including changes in economic conditions, currency values, environmental risks, the cost of and ability to obtain insurance, and risks related to leasing of properties. Socially Responsible Investments are subject to Social Criteria Risk, namely the risk that because social criteria excludes securities of certain issuers for non-financial reasons, investors may forgo some market opportunities available to those that don’t use these criteria. Investors should be aware that alternative investments including private equity and private debt are speculative, subject to substantial risks including the risks associated with limited liquidity, the use of leverage, short sales and concentrated investments and may involve complex tax structures and investment strategies. Alternative investments may be illiquid, there may be no liquid secondary market or ready purchasers for such securities, they may not be required to provide periodic pricing or valuation information to investors, there may be delays in distributing tax information to investors, they are not subject to the same regulatory requirements as other types of pooled investment vehicles, and they may be subject to high fees and expenses, which will reduce profits. Alternative investments are not suitable for all investors and should not constitute an entire investment program. Investors may lose all or substantially all of the capital invested. The historical returns achieved by alternative asset vehicles is not a prediction of future performance or a guarantee of future results, and there can be no assurance that comparable returns will be achieved by any strategy.

Nuveen, LLC provides investment advisory services through its affiliates.