Do Sustainability Ratings Matter? Evidence from Private Wealth Investment Flows
Amir Amel-Zadeh Rik Lustermans Mary Pieterse-Bloem
This study examines the effect of sustainability ratings on investors’ asset allocation decisions. Using a proprietary dataset of monthly equity and bond holdings of European private wealth investors we document significantly larger investment flows into assets with high sustainability ratings compared to those with low ratings. We further find that investors react to changes in sustainability ratings of their portfolio assets by rebalancing their portfolios towards assets with higher sustainability ratings. Exploiting a quasi-exogenous shock to the salience of sustainability ratings we document a plausibly causal effect of assets sustainability ratings on wealthy retail investors investment decisions. We do not find that the larger investments into assets with high sustainability ratings can be explained by differences in attention or news flow or that they are due to significant differences in financial performance.