How ESG analysts are adapting to this crisis

Thursday 16 April 2020

CFA UK Insights

Author: Joanne Frearson

Since the coronavirus pandemic took hold, there has been a lot of talk around ESG, the environment and whether companies who have this as their focus are in a stronger position to deal with the crisis. 

According to Ben Yeoh, CFA, Senior Portfolio Manager at RBC Global Asset Management, in the short-term there have been notable changes in the environment as lockdowns have been enforced across cities. For example, air quality has gone up in a lot of places, while pollution has decreased. 



But the question Yeoh asks is ‘Can we make these outcomes continue in the long-term?’ He says: “Is this a moment, where we can gather together and get global coordination on some of these aspects, or if not global coordination now, at least a sense of more coordination.”

He points out now might be a time for companies to take a more positive stance towards the environment as well as human and social capital. There is some evidence, Yeoh explains, that companies that have been more resilient to this pandemic are ESG focused.

But Yeoh is not so sure all companies will take up the ESG call. Over the medium-term, he is worried, if economic activity resurges, people might cut corners, which might be damaging in the longer-term.

Yeoh thinks for ESG to gain more attention it will be up to investors and stakeholders to make the case to companies. 

He says: “It will be really interesting to see how that goes.”

This video was recorded over Zoom on Thursday 2nd April. 


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