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Italy’s green ambition

By: Annalise Toberman


Italian fund selectors are the most enthusiastic in Europe about demand for sustainable investments and shifting client assets to ‘net zero’ funds.

This finding comes from Research in Finance’s European Fund Selector Study (EuroFSS), an exciting new biannual study in which 650 fund selectors take part across eight major markets. The 102 Italian fund selectors who took part in our inaugural wave represent a healthy mix of portfolio managers, private bankers, wealth managers, IFAs, CIOs and fund analysts.

Our UK-based research studies continue to show a wide range of attitudes and behaviours among professional investors when it comes to sustainable investing (SI), so it’s no surprise to see European countries diverge on how they perceive and approach it. Interestingly, Italian selectors are significantly less likely than European selectors overall to report that their firm offers a dedicated SI service. Yet what they lack in experience, they make up for in enthusiasm: a quarter say they are looking to introduce such a service.

And it is the Italians who are most likely to report a lot of client demand for funds that have sustainable investment as their objective (i.e. Article 9 funds), in contrast to some other markets where demand leans towards ‘light green’ Article 8 funds.

They also show the keenest interest in funds with a net zero target – as is patently clear in the chart below – and are considering shifting a sizeable proportion of assets to these funds.

Source: Research in Finance (February ’22). Question asked of European fund selectors with ESG integration and/or SI services in place, and those looking to introduce these.

The sustainable investment scene can feel incredibly busy, with so many fund launches, products and services repurposed as ‘ESG-compatible’, and a sea of communication aimed at engendering perception of SI credibility. Yet there is still a lot to play for, as shown by our southern European neighbours. Local big names are often regarded as the market leaders for SI in their respective home countries, but opinion may well shift as fund selectors get savvier at researching sustainable-badged funds.

If you would like to know more about the European Fund Selector Study, please contact Toby Finden-CroftsRichard Ley or Mick Hrabe. Options exist to purchase this inaugural wave as well as the opportunity to become a full syndicate member for the next wave. This provides access to a range of brand performance metrics, including use, consideration, positive associations and client service ratings.

Annalise Toberman

Annalise has spent her working life intensively researching B2B and B2C audiences in the financial sector. A keen qualitative researcher, she has conducted thousands of interviews across advisers, DFMs, fund houses, platforms, pension providers and consumers.

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