Nine of the biggest ESG mutual funds in the U.S. outperformed the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index last year, and seven of them beat their market benchmarks over the past five years.
The $878 million Ave Maria Growth Fund was the top performer in 2019, followed by the $3.8 billion Calvert Equity Fund and the $4.9 billion Putnam Sustainable Leaders Fund. All three funds posted gains of more than 35%, compared with the S&P 500’s 31.5% with reinvested dividends. Morgan Stanley’s $3.9 billion Global Opportunity Portfolio and the $2.1 billion Brown Advisory Sustainable Growth Fund placed atop the rankings in the five-year period.
“The number one question I used to get from investors is aren’t you limiting your options and sacrificing returns by doing ESG?” said Karina Funk, a one-time civil and environmental engineer who runs the Brown Advisory fund. “I don’t get that question anymore.”