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Online Channel Leads ESG Growth

Despite relatively flat overall flows, ESG investing still matters to the discount channel.

ESG Growth

From year-end 2015 to the end of May 2018, ESG mutual funds collected an estimated $5.6 billion—a surprisingly small figure for an investing philosophy that receives a fair amount of attention in the financial press. But behind the slack flows data is an important detail: the do-it-yourself crowd in the discount or online channel is a growing source of interest in sustainable investing. 
While the independent advisory channel still controls more ESG assets, discounters are seeing accelerating interest and now oversee more ESG assets today than the trust company channel. 
Discount investors also revealed (by way of asset location) that the most popular ESG brand is Parnassus, while Independents leaned on American Funds Washington Mutual Investors for over 60 percent of their ESG exposure. Other channels also put plenty of assets to work in Washington Mutual Investors in addition to products from Morgan Stanley, Putnam, Hartford and TIAA.