The Fiduciary Duty of Institutional Investors Engaging in Socially Responsible Investing

Open Access
Author:
Enion, Alexandra Allison
Area of Honors:
Finance
Degree:
Bachelor of Science
Document Type:
Thesis
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Christoph Hinkelmann, Thesis Supervisor
  • Brian Spangler Davis, Honors Advisor
Keywords:
  • finance
  • investing
  • socially responsible
  • fiduciary duty
Abstract:
In an increasingly more conscious world, firms are feeling more pressure from consumers and shareholders to engage in corporate social responsibility and sustainability measures. This increased awareness in firms’ activities has driven demand for sustainable investing, also known as socially responsible investing. Despite this increased demand, many institutional investors are not engaging in SRI for their clients. Part of this discrepancy stems from institutional investors’ misperception of their fiduciary duty. This thesis will seek to clarify the duty institutional investors have for their clients while highlighting that socially responsible investing does not contradict their fiduciary duty as is commonly believed. Additionally, this thesis will review extensive studies on socially responsible investing performance to demonstrate that socially responsible investing does not have to mean accepting diminished financial performance. Finally, this thesis will make predictions for expanding socially responsible investing in the United States.