Environmental, social and governance (ESG) research is moving beyond its initial environmental bias, if the nominated research at last week’s ESG Research Australia Awards is anything to go by.

The high calibre of nominated research for the awards, conducted by the industry association ESG Research Australia, is signifying the push by market leaders to factor environmental, social and governance research into mainstream investment analysis, according to organisers.

“This is a welcome feature that we called for in last year’s awards. Although final awards decisions were not easy to make, overall we were most impressed by reports that attempted to integrate ESG research into the mainstream,” said Amanda McCluskey Head of Responsible Investment at Colonial First State Global Asset Management and Chair of the Research Evaluation Committee of ESG RA.

Citi and Goldman Sachs took out the honours at last week’s ESG RA awards, with RBS scoring a highly commended.

Citi was named, for the second year in a row, as the ‘best ESG broking firm as voted by investment managers’ in recognition of work by analyst Elaine Prior.

“It’s encouraging to see the support of our client base and the key thing that supports our research is the way our clients recognise it in the business they give Citi but it’s nice to see it recognised through the ESG RA award,” said Prior.

Prior said ESG research is important due to the explicit focus on environmental, social and governance issues that it encourages.

“ESG research is a relatively new thing. It’s evolving at the moment but I think its broadening out from the initial topics which most people covered to do with carbon trading and climate trading,” said Prior.

“Now it’s broadening to cover more social issues, things like safety issues or supply change issues. Effectively the idea is looking at how companies are adapting and adjusting to a rapidly changing world.”

Prior has completed research on a wide range of topics including due safety, supply chain, carbon trading, climate change and remuneration structures.

Hamish Tadgell and Jien Goh of Goldman Sachs took out the award for the ‘best piece of ESG research by an individual analyst or team category’ for their Equity Strategy: Introducing the GS&PA Structural Leaders Framework.

Alva Devoy, Elliot Crane, Mark Williams and Michael Newbold of RBS were given a highly commended for their research, Australian Strategy: RBS ESG – Qantas.

“We are extremely pleased with the breadth, quality and calibre of ESG research this year,” said McCluskey.

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