ESG integration is best used as a tool to improve portfolio returns and/or reduce risk. While usually thought of as a company-level concern, material ESG data can be very useful at the country level as well, especially in emerging markets. ESG signals are only as good as the quality of their inputs.
Small cap stocks within emerging markets have outperformed large cap stocks by around 0.5% annualized since January 2000,” George writes. “However, illiquid stocks (regardless of capitalization) have outperformed large cap stocks by around 3%. This illiquidity premium is related to, but not the same as, the small cap premium.
Emerging market economies are more vulnerable to the ill effects of ESG issues, but because transparency into such issues in these regions has been lacking, and because investors may have different understanding of risks and opportunities than ESG ratings agencies, integration has been difficult," the white paper says.