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Editorials

 

Shareholder Values

 
"Forty-five percent of U.S. households prefer an environmental, social and governance (ESG) approach to investing... Among those between the ages of 30 and 39, this increases to 64%, and for those younger than 30, it is 67%."
-- Cerulli Associates
 
 (USA)
    October 2018

"The vast majority of Canadian investors are interested in responsible investments (RI) that incorporate environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues, and they would be more likely to choose responsible investments if their financial advisor suggested suitable RI options for them."
-- Responsible
    Investment
    Association (RIA)
 
  (Canada)
    June 2017

"70% of people [in UK] want to invest ethically but the financial services industry is failing to respond." Referencing research by Abundance.
-- Acquisition
    International
   
(UK) June 2015

 

Events

 

Global Ethical Investing News & Commentary

Commentaries by Ron Robins  E-mail us your feedback

Links may only be valid for a limited time   November 21, 2018

***List your event on our Events Page***

Companies Leading on Disability Inclusion Outperform Peers. "Accenture, in partnership with Disability:IN and the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD), has released 'Getting to Equal: The Disability Inclusion Advantage.' This report looks at both the disability practices and financial performance of 140 companies over the past four years... Companies that 'embrace best practices for employing and supporting more people with disabilities in their workforces' are several times more likely to outperform their peers financially."

[COMMENTARY] This is a pioneering and worthy study. It might also be true that employees with disabilities feel they have to prove themselves and so are more productive. Hence, forward-looking companies know this and so increasingly employ individuals with disabilities? Thus, such employment is not out of charity.
Companies Leading on Disability Inclusion Outperform Peers, by Megan Amrich, November 20, 2018, TriplePundit, USA.

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Are ESG Ratings the New Credit Rating for Stock Prices? "A new MSCI study of ESG ratings finds they have a similar impact on share prices as do credit ratings."

[COMMENTARY] Though to me the findings are unsurprising, this is the first study to demonstrate that ESG ratings have a similar impact to credit ratings on a company's stock price. This finding will no doubt be challenged, but comes at a time when investors everywhere are looking at the inclusion of ESG criteria in their investment research. It bodes well for the mainstreaming of ESG!
Are ESG Ratings the New Credit Rating for Stock Prices? By Ginger Szala, November 19, 2018, ThinkAdvisor, USA.

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From upstream to mainstream: ESG at a tipping point. "In a year's time, the percentage of Millennials expressing a high level of interest in ESG investing jumped from 26% to 35%, advisers say, while the percentage of Gen Xers embracing ESG spiked from 16% to 25%. This is more than a generational story, however... Twenty-six percent of ultra-high-net-worth investors now show a high level of interest in ESG investing, advisers say, up from only 10% in 2017. Similarly, interest among very-high net worth investors shot from 13% to 19% in a year's time."

[COMMENTARY] These results are from a US survey of 300 advisors. The jump in numbers over just one-year is impressive. Somewhat interesting is that its regular advisors reporting the rapid growth. Calvert was involved too.
From upstream to mainstream: ESG at a tipping point, November 15, 2018, by IN Research and Calvert, Investment News, USA.

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Green finance: a contrarian take. "Renaissance’s argument thereafter is that, even if emerging markets have far lower ESG scores, directing capital their way allows for the highest overall rate of improvement, and so the greatest ethical utility. This is, unsurprisingly, an argument for more investment in EM."

[COMMENTARY] The argument presented here is like the idea of investing in companies who are just beginning to engage in ESG seriously to take advantage of their possible rapid stock price as they're identified as a potential 'high' ESG company. It's recognized by many investors that high ESG scoring companies also now have a premium to their stock prices.
Green finance: a contrarian take, by Thomas Hale, November 15, 2018, FT Advisor, UK.

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S&P 500 Firms Expand Sustainability Data in Financial Filings, But Slow to Adopt Fully Integrated Reporting. "78 percent of S&P 500 companies issue a sustainability report... Among companies that issue sustainability reports, 95 percent offer quantified, annually comparable environmental performance metrics; two-thirds set quantified and time-bound environmental goals. Some 86 percent offer social performance metrics, but only 40 percent set quantified social goals."

[COMMENTARY] Many companies may not acknowledge climate change, but they know that demonstrating an interest in it and providing some metrics is good for their stock prices. There's still the issue that most companies issuing sustainability reports don't have that data independently verified and audited. That being said, we're seeing great progress in such reporting!
S&P 500 Firms Expand Sustainability Data in Financial Filings, But Slow to Adopt Fully Integrated Reporting, press release, November 14, 2018, IRRC Institute, USA.

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Research Links Financial and Corporate Sustainability (ESG) Performance. "Based on 642 North American sustainability reports for the 2017 reporting period, CSE created a unique analysis framework. It identifies correlations between Sustainability (ESG) performance and Financial results."

[COMMENTARY] The press release gives little information on their findings. However, you can download for free the report by providing your contact information. What quickly stood out for me in the report is the abysmal use of external auditors for ESG data in GRI reports.
Research Links Financial and Corporate Sustainability (ESG) Performance, press release, November 6, 2018, Center for Sustainability and Excellence, USA.

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Clean finance needs to include traditionally ‘dirty’ industries. "We need mechanisms that finance climate-friendly projects, not only for solar panels and transit tracks, but also for a massive transition in carbon-intensive industries. The federal [Canadian] government’s expert panel on sustainable finance shares that view, and in October endorsed “transition-linked financial products” to help channel green investment to high-emitting industries."

[COMMENTARY] The transition to a zero carbon future must include ways in which carbon-intensive industries can finance their transition to becoming 'greener.' With carbon-intensive industries forming so much of the Canadian economy, it's timely and necessary that Canada is a leader in this endeavour. This is a very promising development. Congratulations to all those involved.
Clean finance needs to include traditionally ‘dirty’ industries, by Toby Heaps and Annette Verschuren, November 4, 2018, The Globe and Mail, Canada.

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Big data, ESG ratings help find alpha. "This has fundamental implications for how chief sustainability officers and business leaders work with the broader ecosystem. The higher price of corporate sustainability poses a challenge for ESG investors: they need to ask if they are getting good value for money. It is not only a matter of the value of corporate sustainability anymore, it is also a function of the price you are paying for it. Value for price is key."

[COMMENTARY] Harvard Business School professor George Serafeim continues his outstanding research on ESG investing. As we see in the above quote, in his latest paper, "Public sentiment and the price of corporate sustainability,” Professor Serafeim shows that the stock prices of companies with higher ESG scores frequently trade at premium prices--and therefore ESG-ethically oriented investors need to tread carefully to obtain alpha.
Big data, ESG ratings help find alpha, by George Serafeim, November 2, 2018, Top 1000 Funds, USA.

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US SIF Foundation Releases 2018 Biennial Report On US Sustainable, Responsible And Impact Investing Trends. "The US SIF Foundation's 2018 biennial Report on US Sustainable, Responsible and Impact Investing Trends, released today, found that sustainable, responsible and impact investing (SRI) assets now account for $12.0 trillion—or one in four dollars—of the $46.6 trillion in total assets under professional management in the United States. This represents a 38 percent increase over 2016...

... Assets in mutual funds reached $2.6 trillion, up 34 percent over 2016, and the number of ETFs more than doubled from 25 to 69."

[COMMENTARY] Continued, extraordinary growth seen in US institutional assets screened with assorted ESG criteria. Interestingly, the growth in retail ESG funds roughly parallel’s that of the equivalent Canadian sector.
US SIF Foundation Releases 2018 Biennial Report On US Sustainable, Responsible And Impact Investing Trends, press release, October 31, 2018, US SIF Foundation, USA.

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Does ethical investment withhold capital from those that most need it? Charlie Robertson of Renaissance Capital, an investment bank, reckons ESG risks becoming code for something else: an excuse for investors to put all of their money in Scandinavia. Prosperous havens rate highly on the criteria ESG investors employ. By contrast, the emerging economies that interest Mr Robertson do badly."

[COMMENTARY] This is an interesting argument, particularly regarding government debt. However, the case could be made that poorly performing governments would be encouraged to perform increasingly better on ESG related parameters to gain lower cost funding. It would also help to improve the quality of life for such countries' citizens.
Does ethical investment withhold capital from those that most need it? October 25, 2018, The Economist, UK.

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Canadian RI Assets Surpass $2 Trillion: Canadian RI Trends Report. "$2.13 trillion in RI assets under management (AUM); 41.6% growth in RI AUM over a two-year period; RI represents 50.6% of Canada’s investment industry, up from 37.8% two years ago; Retail RI mutual fund assets increased from $8.26 billion to $11.07 billion, or 34% over two years."

[COMMENTARY] Canadian responsible investing continues momentous growth with institutions. Retail sales growth at 34% is good and growing significantly faster than the 20% in mutual fund assets in those two years between 2015 and 2017.
Canadian RI Assets Surpass $2 Trillion: Canadian RI Trends Report, press release, October 24, 2018, Responsible Investment Association, Canada.

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BlackRock stakes claim on ‘sustainable investing’ revolution. "Fink forecasts such ETF assets will rise from $25bn to over $400bn in a decade...  'We are going to see evidence over the long term that sustainable investing is going to be at least equivalent to core investments. I believe personally it will be higher,' Larry Fink."

[COMMENTARY] Larry Fink is restating what was obvious to me some forty years ago--that ESG, ethical, sustainable investing, no matter how you describe this 'values' approach to investing, would inevitably become mainstream. It's great news to see the chairman and CEO of the world's largest asset manager arriving at this conclusion too.
BlackRock stakes claim on ‘sustainable investing’ revolution, by Peter Smith, October 22, 2018, FT, UK.

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Only 6% of Older Investors Are Familiar With ESG Investing: Survey. "Only 40% of investors older than 60 were familiar with values-based investing, compared with 84% of millennials, and a mere 6% of senior investors knew what environmental, social and governance investing involved, versus 80% of millennials."

[COMMENTARY] These are unsurprising results. There are more interesting findings in this survey of particular interest to advisors.
Only 6% of Older Investors Are Familiar With ESG Investing: Survey, by Michael Fischer, October 19, 2018, ThinkAdvisor, USA.

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2018 Disruptive ETF Virtual Summit Live Update: ESG Investing Poll [among financial advisors] Shows Mixed Results. "ESG investing is still looking to gain more broad acceptance from investors as the space continues to expand with a greater outreach... Very interested and want ESG compliant portfolios--23.6%; Want ESG compliant portfolios but only if there is no extra cost--33%."

[COMMENTARY] Nothing new here, but further confirmation that interest in ESG is gaining among financial advisors.
ESG Investing Poll Shows Mixed Results, by Ben Hernandez, October 18, 2018, ETF Trends, USA.

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Ethics & Trust in Finance Prize. "It aims to encourage high-quality management of banking, insurance and financial services based on trust and integrity. Launched in 2006 and now in its 7th Edition, the global competition for the Prize for Innovative Ideas for Ethics & Trust in Finance is open to young people, aged 35 years or younger, from throughout the world. 

The Prize has won recognition from the International Monetary Fund [IMF], which co-hosted the award ceremony for the 5th edition of the global Ethics in Finance Prize... CFA, Euroclear and Swift/Swift Institute are actively supporting the Prize and promote it to their staff and members and the wider financial services industry.

Ideas for Ethics & Trust in Finance [Prize] is open to young people, aged 35 years or younger, from throughout the world... The deadline for handling in the final paper is set to 31 of May 2019."

[COMMENTARY] I have supported this prize since its inception and highly encourage anyone eligible to participate!
Ethics & Trust in Finance Prize.

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[UK] Investors unwilling to sacrifice profit for ethics. "The VCT provider surveyed 250 individual investors aged between 40 and 80 with household earnings of £125,000. Albion's research found just 30 per cent of those surveyed would be willing to sacrifice some investment return in exchange for pursuing a more socially responsible investment strategy. A total of 43 per cent said they would consider using SRI Investment products."

[COMMENTARY] Note the age and income with respect to the surveyed group. This demographic generally appears less interested in SRI than younger cohorts.
Investors unwilling to sacrifice profit for ethics, by David Thorpe, October 15, 2018, FT Advisor, UK.

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Canada's Responsible Investment Week, October 22-26. I encourage all Canadian investors to participate. For all events, click here!

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Regulators are Taking a Tougher Stance on ESG Disclosure a New Study Reveals. "In the last three years alone Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG)-related regulations - grew by more than 100 percent across the United Kingdom (UK), The United States of America (US), and Canada, indicating that ESG regulatory landscape is evolving fast... ESG issues require mainstream attention."

[COMMENTARY] ESG issues have become mainstream in the investment world and in most industries. Regulators are playing catch-up.
Regulators are Taking a Tougher Stance on ESG Disclosure a New Study Reveals, press release, October 11, 2018, Datamaran, UK.

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Half of [UK] advisers talk about SRI with millennials. "More than half of advisers are very likely to recommend a sustainable and responsible investing (SRI) fund to millennials, according to the latest FTAdviser Talking Point poll."

[COMMENTARY] This is promising. These advisors might just find many of their older clients are interested too!
Half of [UK] advisers talk about SRI with millennials, by Saloni Sardana, October 10, 2018, FT Advisor, UK.

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Which Countries Have the Most Sustainability-Focused Companies? "Morningstar's sustainability atlas rates the stock indexes of 46 countries for sustainability, ESG and carbon risks."

[COMMENTARY] This fascinating new approach to finding companies with a sustainable orientation could interest many investors.
Which Countries Have the Most Sustainability-Focused Companies? By Bernice Napach, October 8, 2018, ThinkAdvisor, USA.

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7 Myths About Millennials and Investing, Busted. "The FINRA Investor Education Foundation and the CFA Institute have just released a new study that should probably be required reading for any advisor wanting to attract millennial clients."

[COMMENTARY] The study finds millennials are overconfident about their financial affairs and wary of the financial industry, among many other points of interest to investment professionals. Full report here.
7 Myths About Millennials and Investing, Busted, by Bernice Napach, October 5, 2015, ThinkAdvisor, USA.

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Advisers Slow to Respond to ESG Investing Demand. "'Providing advisers with materials that can be used to educate clients about a firm’s approach to ESG investing is crucial in increasing adviser adoption,' says Ed Louis, a senior analyst at Cerulli Associates...

Forty-five percent of U.S. households prefer an environmental, social and governance (ESG) approach to investing, Cerulli Associates learned in a survey. Among those between the ages of 30 and 39, this increases to 64%, and for those younger than 30, it is 67%."

[COMMENTARY] Another study citing great interest in ESG investing among retail clients, yet advisors lagging in advising on ESG investment products.
Advisers Slow to Respond to ESG Investing Demand, by Lee Barney, October 5, 2018, PlanAdvisor, USA.

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Institutional support grows for ESG, political spending transparency, report shows. "Based on the analysis of 4,090 shareholder meetings held in the first half of 2018, nearly 29% of institutional investors supported such proposals, a new high compared to 26% in 2017, 21% in 2016, and 18% in 2015. The numbers appear in stark contrast to the support of retail investors, only 16% of which supported such proposals in the first half of 2018."

[COMMENTARY] Here we have another example of institutional participation in matters concerning ESG significantly exceeding that of retail investors.
Institutional support grows for ESG, political spending transparency, report shows, by Rob Kozlowski, October 3, 2018, Pensions & Investments, USA.

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More Than Just Doing Good, ESG Investments Help Manage Volatility. "A report by State Street Global Investor’s SPDR Practice Management Team showed that 69 percent of ESG investors said the investments helped them manage volatility. In fact, that was one reason they chose to invest that way—67 percent said lower volatility and 54 percent said lower downside risk were important reasons they incorporated ESG into their investment process. Overall returns haven’t suffered as a result, either."

[COMMENTARY] ESG investors are echoing what the research is finding on ESG oriented portfolios.
More Than Just Doing Good, ESG Investments Help Manage Volatility, by Wealth Management, October 2, 2018, USA.

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Responsible Investing Accelerates as Investment Merits Gain Traction, RBC Global Asset Management Survey Finds. "Ninety percent of institutional investors believe environmental, social and governance (ESG) integrated portfolios are likely to perform as well or better than non-ESG integrated portfolios, according to a new global survey by RBC Global Asset Management (RBC GAM)."

[COMMENTARY] Finally, it seems that most institutional investors now understand that an ESG orientation doesn't mean poorer returns. We've come a long way!
Responsible Investing Accelerates as Investment Merits Gain Traction, RBC Global Asset Management Survey Finds, press release, RBC GAM, Canada.

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Do companies with bad ESG scores make better investments. "In the US, poorly-rated companies that were upgraded generated the strongest rewards. Those stocks with CCC ESG rating, but eventually received a two-notch upgrade, outperformed the S&P 500 Index by more than 5% in the 12 months following the upgrade."

[COMMENTARY] It's a case of looking for the 'turnaround' ESG situation. Seems like it a new strategy that can work with the right analysis. Perhaps more investors will now use it.
Do companies with bad ESG scores make better investments, by Shannen Wog, October 1, 2018, Citywire Selector, UK.

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The Next Wave of Socially Responsible Investors Has Arrived. "Swell Investing’s 2018 'Money Meets Morals' study finds that the vast majority of Gen Z investors aged 18-24 (84%) are either already invested in socially responsible or impact investments or plan to invest in the future. The study was conducted online by Harris Poll on behalf of Swell Investing and gathered insights from more than 2,000 US adults aged 18 and up, among whom over 1,400 have investments."

[COMMENTARY] Even if one disregards critiquing the questions and how those questions might be understood by survey participants, the results still demonstrate the terrific potential for ethical, sustainable, and ESG oriented investments among the youngest investors!
The Next Wave of Socially Responsible Investors Has Arrived, Swell, USA.

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Disclaimer: This website does not make investment recommendations. Nothing in this site should be interpreted as a recommendation or solicitation to buy/sell any securities or investments. Investing for the Soul is a source of general information and resources for ethical investing and socially responsible investing (SRI). Investors should consider their actions thoroughly and consult their financial advisers and other professionals, prior to taking any investment action. This website does not necessarily agree with the opinions expressed in articles on its pages or offered on the web pages to which it might be linked. Such opinions are the responsibility of the writers themselves. Furthermore, this site does not offer or provide any warranties, representations, guarantees, implied or otherwise, as to the accuracy, legality, copyright compliance, timeliness or usefulness of the information, materials or services on this, or other sites, to which it is linked. Also, Mr. Ron Robins is not an investment advisor, nor is he licensed with any professional investment related body, and thus is not able to, nor does he make, any investment recommendations.

 

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