An overwhelming 94% of investors think that corporate reporting on sustainability performance contains some level of unsupported claims, according to PriceWaterhouseCoopers' 2023 Global Investor Survey released on Nov. 15.
That figure climbed from 87% in the 2022 survey.
As such, PWC noted, the widespread concern about "greenwashing" may explain why investors broadly endorse new disclosure requirements, such as those from the European Union's Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive and the International Sustainability Standards Board. Some 57% of investors said that if firms meet the regulations and standards (including those from the Security and Exchange Commission's proposed climate disclosure rules in the U.S.), it will greatly help their decision-making.
The survey also revealed that 75% of investors consider how a company manages their sustainability-related risks and opportunities an important part of their investment decisions.
In addition, more than three-fifths (61%) think that rapid adoption of artificial intelligence is "very" or "extremely" important to value-creation at companies. Despite this widespread embrace of AI, 86% of investors are concerned about the risks AI may pose to data security and privacy.
Nearly one-third (32%) of respondents are very concerned about the impact of climate change on companies they invest in or cover — up from 22% in 2022. Inflation (46% of respondents) remain the biggest threat this year, although this figure has dropped from 67% in 2022.
"We are moving from a period of awareness raising around the importance of climate and technological change to a time where investors are increasingly asking specific and tough questions about how companies are addressing those issues in their strategy, how they assess risk and opportunity, and what is truly material for them," stated James Chalmers, global assurance leader, PwC UK, in a release issued in tandem with the survey. "In this context, corporate reporting needs to continue to evolve so it provides reliable, consistent and comparable information investors — and other stakeholders — can rely on."
PwC's survey was conducted in September and comprised 345 investors and analysts across 30 countries and territories. Respondents were predominantly institutional investors, with about two-thirds (65%) coming from organizations with a total assets under management of more than $1 billion.