Our vision is to contribute to the democratisation of financial markets through the dynamic integration of societal concerns, expressed via social media, into responsible investment processes. Responsible investment is an increasingly popular investment philosophy that distinguishes itself from conventional investment approaches through the explicit consideration of environmental, social or governance factors in investment decision making. Since Kofi Annan launched the United Nations' backed Principles for Responsible Investment (www.unpri.org) in April 2006, the number of signatories and their assets increased from 68 firms to about 1,200 organisations with around $35 trillion assets under management. In his launching speech, Kofi Annan highlighted the relevance of responsible investment for the UN’s ambition to develop a more stable and inclusive global economy as follows:
I was concerned that the tenets of sustainable development, despite increasingly strong political backing and grassroots support, would continue to have a hard time gaining traction unless they were better integrated into investment analysis and assessment. One of the main problems has long been the troubling disconnect between corporate responsibility as a broadly stated management imperative, and the actual behaviour of financial markets. [...] It is my hope that the Principles [for Responsible Investment] will help to align investment practices with the goals of the United Nations, thereby contributing to a more stable and inclusive global economy.Kofi Annan, UN Secretary-general, UN PRI Launch Speech 2006
Responsible investment decisions are currently made based on ratings of corporations in various environmental, social or governance (ESG) criteria, but they have yet to directly consider societies' dynamically evolving views and concerns on these ESG criteria. In other words, responsible investing currently ensures that the views of rating agencies and corporations on responsibility are heard by financial markets, but it does not yet provide a direct voice to evolving societal views.
In late summer 2011, we set out with the simple idea to link social media analytics with responsible investment to design an instant connection between societal views and financial markets. Ever since, we have been developing and refining a technology for this novel concept of "DynamicESG".