Do ESG Mutual Funds Deliver on Their Promises
Combining comprehensive data on mutual funds with proprietary data from the several of the most significant ESG ratings firms, we provide a unique picture of the current ESG environment with an eye to informing regulatory policy. We evaluate a number of criticisms of ESG funds made by academics and policymakers and find them lacking. We find that ESG funds offer their investors increased ESG exposure. They also vote their shares differently from non-ESG funds and are more supportive of ESG principles. Our analysis shows that they do so without increasing costs or reducing returns. We conclude that ESG funds generally offer investors a differentiated and competitive investment product that is consistent with their labeling. In short, we see no reason to single out ESG funds for special regulation.