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The Performance of Socially Responsible Funds: Does the Screening Process Matter?

  • Gunther Capelle-Blancard
  • Stéphanie Monjon

This paper is about the financial performance of mutual funds that practice Socially Responsible Investing (SRI). First, we measure the financial performance of a sample of 116 French SRI mutual funds over the period 2004-2007. As expected, and according to previous studies, our results show that SRI funds do not outperform the market, whatever the performance measure considered. Then, we assess the financial performances within our sample of SRI funds, as suggested by Barnett and Salomon (2006). Precisely, we examine whether the financial performances of these funds are related to the features of the SRI selection process. We find evidence that a greater screening intensity reduces SRI financial performance, but the relationship runs in the opposite direction when screening gets tougher. Further, we show that only sectoral screens – such as avoiding “sin” stocks – decrease financial performance, while transversal screens – commitment to UN Global Compact Principles, ILO/Rights at Work, etc. – have no impact. Other characteristics of the screening process like shareholder activism, or the overall quality of the SRI process do not have any significant impact either.

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Paper provided by CEPII research center in its series Working Papers with number 2011-12.

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Date of creation: May 2011
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Handle: RePEc:cii:cepidt:2011-12
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  1. Alan Gregory & John Matatko & Robert Luther, 1997. "Ethical Unit Trust Financial Performance: Small Company Effects and Fund Size Effects," Journal of Business Finance & Accounting, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 24(5), pages 705-725.
  2. Alexander Kempf & Peer Osthoff, 2008. "SRI Funds: Nomen est Omen," Journal of Business Finance & Accounting, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 35(9-10), pages 1276-1294.
  3. Josep Lozano & Laura Albareda & M. Balaguer, 2006. "Socially Responsible Investment in the Spanish financial market," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 69(3), pages 305-316, December.
  4. Joakim Sandberg & Carmen Juravle & Ted Hedesström & Ian Hamilton, 2009. "The Heterogeneity of Socially Responsible Investment," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 87(4), pages 519-533, July.
  5. Schröder, Michael, 2005. "Is there a Difference? The Performance Characteristics of SRI Equity Indexes," ZEW Discussion Papers 05-50, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
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  8. Joseph Chen & Harrison Hong & Ming Huang & Jeffrey D. Kubik, 2004. "Does Fund Size Erode Mutual Fund Performance? The Role of Liquidity and Organization," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(5), pages 1276-1302, December.
  9. Judith Chevalier & Glenn Ellison, 1996. "Are Some Mutual Funds Managers Better Than Others? Cross-Sectional Patterns in Behavior and Performance," NBER Working Papers 5852, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Renneboog, Luc & Ter Horst, Jenke & Zhang, Chendi, 2008. "The price of ethics and stakeholder governance: The performance of socially responsible mutual funds," Journal of Corporate Finance, Elsevier, vol. 14(3), pages 302-322, June.
  11. N. Kreander & R.H. Gray & D.M. Power & C.D. Sinclair, 2005. "Evaluating the Performance of Ethical and Non-ethical Funds: A Matched Pair Analysis," Journal of Business Finance & Accounting, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 32(7-8), pages 1465-1493.
  12. Hong, Harrison & Kacperczyk, Marcin, 2009. "The price of sin: The effects of social norms on markets," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(1), pages 15-36, July.
  13. Renneboog, Luc & Ter Horst, Jenke & Zhang, Chendi, 2011. "Is ethical money financially smart? Nonfinancial attributes and money flows of socially responsible investment funds," Journal of Financial Intermediation, Elsevier, vol. 20(4), pages 562-588, October.
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  16. Louche, C. & Lydenberg, Steven, 2006. "Socially responsible investment: differences between Europe and United States," Vlerick Leuven Gent Management School Working Paper Series 2006-22, Vlerick Leuven Gent Management School.
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  20. repec:dgr:rugsom:02e22 is not listed on IDEAS
  21. Kempf, Alexander & Osthoff, Peer, 2007. "The effect of socially responsible investing on portfolio performance," CFR Working Papers 06-10, University of Cologne, Centre for Financial Research (CFR).
  22. Renneboog, Luc & Ter Horst, Jenke & Zhang, Chendi, 2008. "Socially responsible investments: Institutional aspects, performance, and investor behavior," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 32(9), pages 1723-1742, September.
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  24. Rob Bauer & Jeroen Derwall & Rogér Otten, 2007. "The Ethical Mutual Fund Performance Debate: New Evidence from Canada," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 70(2), pages 111-124, January.
  25. Jeroen Derwall & Kees Koedijk, 2009. "Socially Responsible Fixed-Income Funds," Journal of Business Finance & Accounting, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 36(1-2), pages 210-229.
  26. Gottesman, Aron A. & Morey, Matthew R., 2006. "Manager education and mutual fund performance," Journal of Empirical Finance, Elsevier, vol. 13(2), pages 145-182, March.
  27. Angeles Fernandez-Izquierdo & Juan Matallin-Saez, 2008. "Performance of Ethical Mutual Funds in Spain: Sacrifice or Premium?," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 81(2), pages 247-260, August.
  28. Jacquelyn Humphrey & Darren Lee, 2011. "Australian Socially Responsible Funds: Performance, Risk and Screening Intensity," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 102(4), pages 519-535, September.
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