Enabling Sustainable Savings and Investment Channels in Europe: Opportunities and Challenges

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Background

Well-functioning, deeper and highly integrated capital markets are expected to play a greater role in unlocking long-term savings and investment channels in Europe. The Capital Markets Union (CMU) initiative has set out important priorities in the area of asset allocation, such as increasing retail participation, promoting sustainable investment, and removing barriers to cross-border activities. This project must go beyond the actions set for end-2019 with a revamped strategy for EU-27.

This third Interim Report is based on the discussions among the experts present at the Task Force meeting held on 20 March 2018, additional secondary research and targeted bilateral consultations. The main ideas will be considered in the Final Task Force Report, which will put forward a series of policy recommendations supported by in-depth quantitative and qualitative analysis. More detailed information about the Task Force is available here.

Summary

Notwithstanding the significant differences between member states, the overexposure to bank deposits as well as the equity underweight in the portfolios of European households represent structural issues in Europe. Both market and regulatory developments should head in the direction of increasing access to suitable retail savings/investment products with comparable cost structures and stable returns in the long run. The onus of financial education should not only be on retail investors, but also on advisers and distributors, i.e. strictly monitored, properly trained professionals, regardless of captive or open distribution models.

Multiple stakeholders need to be on board in working towards building and implementing the business-financial-societal case for sustainability. The use of financial regulation as a tool to provide incentives or disincentives for retail/institutional investors should be exercised with great caution and be complemented by other appropriate sectoral policies. This is essential in order to avoid a build-up in asset bubbles and further misallocation of resources. Moving sustainability from a niche segment will require a larger pool of sustainable assets and restoring confidence in the capacity of capital markets to generate long-term value in the real economy.

Suggested citation

Amariei, C. (2018). Enabling Sustainable Savings and Investment Channels in Europe: Opportunities and Challenges, 3rd Interim Report of the CEPS-ECMI Task Force on Asset Allocation in Europe, ECMI, Brussels.

Cosmina Amariei is Researcher at the European Capital Markets Institute (ECMI).