Soft numbers: quant firms look for signals in ‘squishy’ data

Environmental, social and governance information nebulous but valuable, managers say

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Quantitative asset managers are increasingly using qualitative data in their investment processes, including environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors previously dismissed as imprecise.

For these managers, ESG factors provide them with information not currently being priced in by other investors, says Matt Moscardi, head of financial sector research for MSCI ESG Research in Boston.

Kevin Bourne, London-based managing director of databases at FTSE Russell, agrees: "ESG data is essentially

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