“In the Swiss market, there are a lot of asset managers that have had sustainable investments in place for decades”Sabine Döbeli, CEO of the Swiss Sustainable Finance (SSF) association“In the Swiss market, there are a lot of asset managers that have had sustainable investments in place for decades. They are well in [a] position to prepare the kind of offer that institutional asset owners need,” the CEO said, adding that on the other hand most pension funds are now working to define sustainable policies.Döbeli believes the Swiss market is prepared to continue to embrace sustainability as a mainstream approach for investments, although a number of asset managers are still at the start of the journey.“For this reason, we teamed up with SFAMA, the Swiss Funds and Asset Management Association, to develop recommendations on sustainable asset management that will be published next week. The guidelines encourage all mainstream asset managers to adopt sustainable investment strategies,” she added.The COVID-19 pandemic has sparked a debate on whether to stress social or environmental issues with regards to ESG policies.The Swiss Sustainable Finance association expects a shift towards social topics.“Clearly, climate change is a key challenge for our society and therefore has to be at the top of the agenda, but I also see that the crisis made people realize that it is important to take social factors into account, and I’m sure these topics will move up on both the political agenda and the one of investors,” Döbeli said.“Good governance is an important starting point to build sustainable strategies and “as an investor, you have to take E, S and G into account,” she concluded.To read the digital edition of IPE’s latest magazine click here. Overall, last year the volume of sustainable investments increased by 62% to CHF1.2trn. The figure covers sustainable investment funds (+147%), sustainable mandates (+195%) and sustainable assets of asset owners (+6 %).“What these figures really represent is a form of mainstreaming of sustainable investments. These kind of growth rates are only possible because an increasing number of asset managers and institutional asset owners are applying sustainability approaches to their broad assets,” Döbeli said.For the future, the study noted that asset owners and asset managers expect continued growth for sustainable investments with key drivers being the demand from institutional and private investors, legislative framework, political pressure, and pressure from the boards.“Our goal is to have 100% sustainable investments in a few years’ time. I don’t think there is a limit to this kind of growth, because in our view it does make sense to apply sustainability approaches in all asset classes and segments, of course in different forms depending on the asset class,” the CEO added.Equity investments rose by CHF194.4bn last year to CHF311.9bn – the largest shift recorded – among asset classes for sustainable investments, followed by corporate bonds with CHF208.9bn and sovereign bonds reaching CHF168.6bn.The report underlined that growth in equity investments can mainly be ascribed to asset managers increasingly considering ESG factors for funds that have large positions in equity and corporate bonds. Swiss investors are increasingly assessing the positive social and environmental impacts of investments in the real economy, Sabine Döbeli, chief executive officer of the Swiss Sustainable Finance (SSF) association, told IPE.“We have seen an interesting development in the past year with impact and outcome oriented approaches moving up on the list,” she said, commenting on the Sustainable Investment Market Study that SSF recently published with the Center for Sustainable Finance and Private Wealth (CSP) at the University of Zurich.According to the study, environmental, social and governance (ESG) engagement, ESG voting and impact investment recorded the highest growth rate among the different investment approaches in 2019, with the latest of the three up 209%.Institutional investors dominate the Swiss market of sustainable investment with a share of 79%, or CHF917.4bn (€850bn), but the private segment rose by 185% to CHF245.8bn.