Sustainability scores for portfolio performance

University essay from KTH/Matematisk statistik

Abstract: In this thesis, the traditional methods of only using ESG scores to screen stocks for sustainable portfolios is broadened. The selection of securities for portfolios will instead depend on aggregation, weighting and normalization of a wider set of sustainability variables, in turn creating more all-encompassing sustainability scores. Using these scores, the aim is to implement them in index tracking portfolios. These portfolios combines a hybrid approach between active and passive investment, with the aim of creating sustainable enhanced index funds that can beat the index without adding significant risk. Additionally, this allows for comparison of how different combinations and levels of sustainability affects returns, risk and index tracking. The results that are obtained shows that in the scenario presented in the thesis, it is possible to create a sustainability score which both increases the average sustainability of portfolios, and yields risk adjusted returns. We also studied how a net increase in sustainability scores over a control portfolio results in higher active returns, and eventually a small drop off in information ratio as we apply too strong of a sustainability constraint to our portfolios. The combination of sustainability scores which showed the highest risk adjusted returns was created using equal parts z-scored ESG ratings, ESG risk ratings and ESG momentum.

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