ZHAW develops concept for sustainable 3a pension provision


Winterthur – According to a study by the Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW), the expectations of those who pay into pillar 3a and wish to invest sustainably are not being met. Their concept shows how truly impact-oriented financial products could be launched.

According to a study by the ZHAW, two thirds of those who pay into the third pillar for their retirement provision want to invest sustainably. However, the products on offer often do not have the expected sustainability effect, according to the ZHAW in a summary of its study. For this analysis, which was carried out by the ZHAW School of Management and Law on behalf of the Federal Office for the Environment, the researchers evaluated all 150 current pillar 3a product offerings.

Investment products bearing the ESG label are often described as sustainable. However, these only analyze the financial risks for a company, i.e. how environmental risks could affect a company’s profitability. However, according to the ZHAW, impact-oriented investment requires precisely the opposite view, namely how the business activities of companies affect the environment. “If investors are not aware of this, they think they are acting in an impact-oriented manner, but they are not,” says Dominik Boos, head of the Asset Management department at the ZHAW School of Management and Law. “This can lead to accusations of greenwashing.”

Another problem is the lack of transparency and comparability of funds’ sustainability approaches. According to the ZHAW, what is needed are products with a stringent, impact-oriented sustainability approach that also differentiates and acts according to economic sectors. In addition, greater transparency and a holistic survey of customer preferences would facilitate decision-making. The ZHAW study therefore proposes a concept for the simultaneous survey of sustainable and financial preferences. In this way, “customer expectations can be met better and more consistently”. ce/mm