Signalling commitment to sustainability on the mutual fund market : An investigation of the Swedish equity mutual fund market
Sammanfattning: In the midst of climate change and growing concern about social aspects, investors want to make informed sustainable choices regarding their consumption and investments. Many companies are trying to stay ahead of the curve by engaging in Corporate Social Responsibility. Mutual funds have noticed this trend and subsequently have started to offer ethical mutual funds as a result. These ethical claims are difficult to scrutinize for investors creating a problem of asymmetric information. This study analyses how ethical claims and how eco-labels, in this case, the Nordic Swan Ecolabel relate to demand for equity mutual funds. In a world where more investors are seeking ethical investments, how is ethical commitment communicated in a trustworthy way? Data on daily Net Asset Value (NAV) and monthly Total Net Assets (TNA) between 2016-01-01 and 2019-12-31, for 217 equity mutual funds sold on the Swedish market were collected from Thomson & Reuters database Eikon. These mutual funds were categorized into three groups, conventional, non-labelled ethical, and eco-labelled mutual funds. The data was structured as panel data and both random effect and fixed effect models were used to estimate the factor loadings. The study shows that Nordic Swan Ecolabelled mutual funds tend to experience higher demand than both non-labelled ethical mutual funds and conventional mutual funds. In other words, the Nordic Swan Ecolabelled group distinguishes itself from the other mutual fund groups. Hence, the results of the study suggest that the Nordic Swan Ecolabel sends a signal that relates positively to the demand for mutual funds. Further, the results implicate that mutual fund companies that aim to introduce mutual funds that are truly ethical or sustainable should consider acquiring the Nordic Swan Ecolabel to signal their sustainability commitment since the results suggest that Nordic Swan Ecolabelled mutual funds have a positive relation to demand, both compared to conventional mutual funds and non-labelled ethical mutual funds.
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