As is frequently the case in the money management industry, we are awash in terminology to address ESG and impact investing, and it all means everything and nothing at the same time. Well-intentioned but not well-considered marketing campaigns have repositioned words like “impact” to mean sustainable investing in the broadest sense, or negated their meanings entirely. Meanwhile, “SRI” has been re-branded as “sustainable and responsible investing” while simultaneously being relegated to the dust-bin as a pejorative for well-meaning but poor performing strategies.
As more people join the discussion we are increasingly talking past one another using language we think means the same things to others as it does to us, only to find out we are speaking different languages, or just plain gibberish. In the securities industry words mean something, and it is probably high time to see some of the discipline and compliance that governs the rest of the language of investing come into play since asset owners, advisors and consultants are making real decisions based on the words we use.