The Big Picture

Vincent Boland: ESG movement imploding after falling into the trap of believing its own publicity

The probe into German asset manager DWS has revealed a fatal flaw in the much-lauded concept of ethical investment: no one agrees on what it actually means

A whistleblower alleged that DWS misled clients in 2020 by overstating how much of its €900 billion of assets under management were invested using ESG criteria

Even before the police raided the headquarters of one of Europe’s biggest asset managers two weeks ago, 2022 was shaping up to be an annus horribilis for ESG investing, the movement dedicated to promoting environmental, social and governance criteria as investment benchmarks.

Sharp falls in global stock markets were concentrating investors’ minds on first principles. The prospect of energy shortages and blackouts after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine highlighted the scarcity of readily available alternatives to ...