CSP Research News: Summer 2022

Dear colleagues,

Summer greetings from the Research Team at CSP!

The last weeks have seen a number of much-anticipated publications. ‘Aggregate Confusion’ made waves in the international media after being published in the Review of Finance, we launched the fourth edition of the Private Banking report last month, and our latest project commissioned by the Swiss Federal Office for the Environment went to press, shedding light on the concrete impact of the world’s most widely applied sustainable finance mechanism: ESG integration.

There is also some great career news within the CSP Research Team. Continuing our extended collaboration, CSP researcher Florian Heeb will be headed to Cambridge, Massachusetts to keep advancing research on ‘Evidence for Impact’ as a Postdoctoral Researcher at MIT’s Sloan School of Management. Additionally, CSP Head of Research, Julian Kölbel will be starting as an Assistant Professor in Sustainable Finance at the University of St. Gallen this fall, remaining closely related to CSP through various joint research projects. We’re delighted and certain that they’ll both continue making waves and advancing CSP’s work in these new positions!

Lastly, excitement is building as we start the countdown to the Global Research Alliance for Sustainable Finance and Investment (GRASFI) annual conference which CSP has the honor of co-hosting in Zurich in September 2022. Over 170+ papers were submitted for review and the top selection will be presented over the three days, in addition to interdisciplinary workshops dedicated to bridging research and practice. We hope that you will join us! The agenda and registration details are already available here.


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Register now for this year’s GRASFI Conference!

The Global Research Alliance for Sustainable Finance and Investment (GRASFI) is the foremost network for universities leading research on sustainable finance and investment. This fall, CSP and the Center of Competence for Sustainable Finance at the University of Zurich will cohost the network’s 5th Annual Conference in Zurich, September 5th-7th, 2022.

The event will connect researchers, policymakers, and practitioners from across the sustainable finance landscape for three days of leading edge insights and discourse-defining exchange. This year’s program covers everything from climate risk and ESG ratings to corporate perspectives and investor behavior at every scale.

Get speaker announcements and event updates by following GRASFI on LinkedIn and Twitter, and join the conversation from anywhere in the world using #GRASFI22.

Learn more and register

Research Team Highlights

Does ESG integration impact the real economy?

The latest CSP report commissioned by the Swiss Federal Office for the Environment looks at the concrete effects of the world’s most widely-applied sustainable finance mechanism: ESG integration. Authors Florian Heeb, Anne Kellers and Julian Kölbel find that it could “maybe” drive some changes in businesses on the ground, but only if four criteria are met. The full report and additional resources are available here.

Bringing clarity to ESG ‘Confusion’

‘Aggregate Confusion: The Divergence of ESG Ratings’ has been officially published in the Review of Finance, garnering attention from media outlets like the Financial Times, Forbes, and the Wall Street Journal. Co-authored by CSP’s Julian Kölbel, this article has become a touchpoint for evidencing the inconsistency and opacity of ESG ratings and their implications for sustainable finance practice more broadly. By drawing attention to these issues, hopefully will help catalyze improvements.

Tracking the “Sustainable Finance Capabilities of Private Banks”

Interest in sustainable investing has grown tremendously over the last five years, as have banks’ efforts to position themselves as experts in this area. CSP’s bi-annual report on the concrete capacities of private banks to deliver on this demand has tracked these developments. The report’s 4th iteration was released in June. A recording of the online launch and the report are available to stream and download.

Grant Announcement: Congratulations Linda!

CSP researcher Linda Hain has been awarded a Candoc Grant from the University of Zurich to support her second project on diversification and multi-hazard portfolios in the reinsurance context. These grants are awarded to promising young academics working on outstanding PhD thesis projects at the University of Zurich. Linda will be analyzing the impact of natural disasters on reinsurance practices under different environmental scenarios.

What fake suede and the future of impact investment have to do with one another

In their latest Illuminem article, CSP researcher Florian Heeb and collaborator Harald Walkate reflect on how “soft law” applies to the impact investment market and how economic subjects should encourage impact investors within the current EU legal landscape. A recent court case in the leather alternative industry underlines the importance of reliable science-based impact assessment tools for measuring and enabling meaningful impact.

Deepen your knowledge of Blended Finance, amplify your impact

Researchers and practitioners interested in deepening their understanding of blended finance and honing their expertise will converge for the Impact Investment & Blended Finance for Development Agencies and Foundations program in Zurich this September. The program takes place right after the GRASFI conference if you’re interested in joining!

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Center for Sustainable Finance and Private Wealth

CSP is a research center at UZH. We conduct research and train wealth owners & investment professionals in order to move capital towards sustainable growth.