Winners: Abigail B. Sussman, University of Chicago, Booth School of Business, Samuel M. Hartzmark, University of Chicago, Booth School of Business, for “Do Investors Value Sustainability? A Natural Experiment Examining Ranking and Fund Flows”.
ABOUT THE WINNING PAPER
In their winning paper, “Do Investors Value Sustainability? A Natural Experiment Examining Ranking and Fund Flows”, authors Abigail B. Sussman and Samuel M. Hartzmark successfully rule out the possibility that investors are indifferent to sustainability information or that they will penalize a fund for maintaining a portfolio of sustainable investments. When introducing the paper’s goals, Sussman and Hartzmark pose the question, “Put simply, do investors collectively view sustainability as a positive, negative, or neutral attribute of a company?”
“This paper demonstrates that the universe of mutual fund investors in the US collectively put a positive value on sustainability by providing causal evidence that market wide demand for funds varies as a function of their sustainability ratings,” the authors state. More specifically, they found that funds categorized as low sustainability led to net outflows of more than $12 billion, whereas those categorized as high sustainability led to net inflows of more than $24 billion. They conclude by noting that their “experimental evidence suggests that investors have a strong belief that better globe ratings positively predict future returns. We also find suggestive evidence of non-pecuniary motives, consistent with altruism or warm glow.”
Faculty co-chair of the Prize, Lloyd Kurtz, expressed his support of the paper saying, “I thought this paper was very deserving – it offers strong evidence on a topic where we have had very little information, and is so well-done that it is hard to imagine anyone disputing the finding. It is exactly the type of research that the Moskowitz Prize seeks to honor.” Terrance Odean, Rudd Family Foundation Professor of Finance at Berkeley Haas, also added that the paper presented “a striking main empirical result.”
The prestigious Moskowitz Prize is the only global award recognizing outstanding quantitative research in sustainable and responsible investing. Since its launch in 1996 by Berkeley Haas and US SIF, its winners have explored shareholder activism, socially responsible mutual funds, and socially responsible investing as a catalyst to financial performance, among other topics.
The prize is awarded by an expert panel of judges. The winner, announced at the annual SRI Conference, receives $5,000. Papers are judged on their: practical significance to practitioners of sustainable and/or responsible investment, appropriateness and rigor of quantitative methods, and novelty of results.
The Moskowitz Prize is named for Milton Moskowitz, one of the first investigators to publish comparisons of the financial performance of screened and unscreened portfolios, including “The 100 Best Companies to Work for in America.” The 2018 Moskowitz Prize is generously sponsored by Bailard, Calvert Research and Management, First Affirmative Financial Network, Neuberger Berman, Trillium Asset Management, and Wells Fargo Private Bank.
ABOUT THE BERKELEY HAAS CENTER FOR RESPONSIBLE BUSINESS
Building on 15 years of research, teaching, and industry engagement, the Center for Responsible Business (CRB) brings together students, company leaders and faculty to develop leaders who redefine business for a sustainable future. The CRB, part of the Institute for Business and Social Impact at the UC Berkeley Haas School of Business, inspires students to re-think traditional business practices, envision the roles that they can play in creating change, and obtain the skills to get there.
Questions about the Moskowitz Research Prize may be directed towards CRB Program Manager Emily Pelissier at firstname.lastname@example.org.