In brief: Greenwashers should be afraid

LPs may well 'surprise and intimidate' managers with the level of their ESG sophistication, according to Mercer's head of infrastructure.

Fear of greenwashing or impact-washing where a manager overstates its sustainability credentials abounds in private markets investment. It is, however, the greenwashers who should be afraid, according to panelists on day one of the Responsible Investment Forum: Europe.

“Do not underestimate the level of sophistication institutional investors have,” said Amarik Ubhi, partner and global head of infrastructure at investment consultant Mercer. “They may surprise you and intimidate you with their knowledge.” Their expertise has grown and they often no longer rely on consultants like Mercer to see through greenwash, he explained.

“Dutch LPs are very demanding,” said Silva Deželan, ESG director at Stafford Capital Partners, on the same panel. She also had a warning for any GPs that come to Stafford looking for commitments: “Don’t tell us it is in your DNA,” she advised. If it really was, she explained, you wouldn’t need to say it.