Discussion paper

DP18108 How did banks' ESG conduct affect financial performance and lending during COVID-19?

This paper examines the link between ESG conduct and banks' stock performance during the COVID-19 crisis using a large global sample of banks. We find that a one standard deviation increase in a bank's ESG score is associated on average with a 0.14 percentage point lower daily stock returns during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Examining the potential drivers behind the negative impact of the ESG conduct, we show that banks with a higher fraction of retail investors are more affected. Last, we provide evidence for a negative association between banks' ESG performance and their lending in times of COVID-19, which is again relatively more pronounced for banks with a higher share of retail ownership.