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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  January 21, 2020

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Nearly two-thirds of Canadian retail investors are interested in allocating more funds to responsible investment, RBC Global Asset Management survey finds. "73% of Canadians believe responsible investment portfolios are the way of the future; 81% believe that responsible investment offers the same or better returns than traditional investing; 61% rely on their financial advisor for information about responsible investment; 86% believe it is important that companies they invest in act in a socially responsible way"

[COMMENTARY] Though good, the number of Canadians wanting to invest 'responsibly' really hasn't changed much over the years. As always, the fact that 61% rely on financial advisors -- who mostly steer these investors to 'non' responsible products -- is why ethical and sustainable funds still represent probably less than 5% of Canadian retail investment assets.
Nearly two-thirds of Canadian retail investors are interested in allocating more funds to responsible investment, RBC Global Asset Management survey finds, press release, January 15, 2020, RBC Global Asset Management, Canada.

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ESG Matters. "A link exists between a company's ESG performance and its financial performance, according to a study published Thursday from ISS ESG, the responsible investment arm of Institutional Shareholder Services. -- Pensions&Investments"

[COMMENTARY] ESG improves corporate financial performance. Good corporate financial performance allows for enhancing ESG action. Which comes first? Or are they creating a virtuous feedback loop? This is what this study tackles.
ESG Matters, by Dr. G Kevin Spellman, CFA, January 2020, Institutional Shareholder Services Inc., USA.

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There Are 2,698 Signatories to the United Nations' ESG Code. Has It Changed Anyone's Behavior? "Most of these codes, particularly the UN PRI, are meaningless. -- Alicia McElhaney"

[COMMENTARY] I agree. If there's no detailed definition of the code's criteria and no enforcements mechanism, they're largely a PR stunt.
There Are 2,698 Signatories to the United Nations' ESG Code. Has It Changed Anyone's Behavior? By Alicia McElhaney, January 8, 2020, Institutional Investor, USA.

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ESG future-proofing can help to defy market risks. "The European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority (Eiopa) found in its most recent stress tests of European pension funds that sustainable investments would help them to withstand an adverse scenario."

[COMMENTARY] In the market crash of 2008, subsequent studies showed that sustainable investments outperformed.
ESG future-proofing can help to defy market risks, by Elena Johansson, January 6, 2020, Expert Investor, UK.

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Proposed SEC rule changes could impede investor activism. "The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is considering rule changes that could undermine investors' ability to push for better environmental performance at publicly traded companies by creating new restrictions on who is eligible to file shareholder proposals and how much support they need to make it onto the proxy statement.

A network of corporate oil and gas interests appears to be behind the new proposals, partly by manipulative means, according to an extensive Bloomberg investigation."

[COMMENTARY] It seems another step by established fossil fuel groups to contain criticism of their businesses.
Proposed SEC rule changes could impede investor activism, by Sara E. Murphy, January 7, 2020, GreenBiz, USA.

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[US] Advisers welcome potential regulatory scrutiny of ESG investing. "Investment advisers say regulatory scrutiny of socially responsible investing could provide a stronger foundation for a way of constructing portfolios that is becoming increasingly popular with clients."

[COMMENTARY] My initial reaction wasn't positive that the SEC was looking into this. However, I concede that it could be a positive development.

Regulatory authorities in the UK and the EU are already establishing standards of various terms that investment industry players would have to abide by. Perhaps this SEC investigation would create similar rules as to the use of terminology to that of the Europeans?
Advisers welcome potential regulatory scrutiny of ESG investing, by Mark Schoeff Jr., January 3, 2020, Investment News, USA.

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No more heavy metals? New IBM battery chemistry research could address mineral sourcing concerns. "The materials for this battery are able to be extracted from seawater, laying the ground for less-invasive sourcing techniques than current material mining methods. Just as promising as this new battery's composition is its performance potential.

In initial tests, it proved it can be optimized to surpass the capabilities of lithium-ion batteries in a number of individual categories including lower costs, faster charging time, higher power and energy density, strong efficient and low flammability."

[COMMENTARY] Since this is an IBM discovery, it has to be taken seriously. Should it work out as indicated it will revolutionize the power industry!
No more heavy metals? New IBM battery chemistry research could address mineral sourcing concerns, by Heather Clancy, December 31, 2019, GreenBiz, USA.

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My latest podcast: US Budget's Renewable Energy Winners. And More... "Who are the US budget's renewable energy stock and ETF winners and losers? Using MSCI and proprietary methodologies Investor's Business Daily creates its best 50 ESG companies ranking.

New PIMCO ESG money market fund. Innovative and only Catholic long/short mutual fund. New ethical and sustainable robo advisors. My 1-hour investor tutorial reduced in price! And more..."

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'Fooling ourselves' to focus on 'amorphous' social investing factors, says SEC Commissioner Peirce. "'The notion that we can come together and we can get our regulator to focus on an amorphous set of qualities other than the long-term financial value of a corporation, I think we're fooling ourselves,' she said Tuesday on CNBC's Squawk on the Street."

[COMMENTARY] Commissioner Peirce clearly represents President Trump's views in this area. I do realize that there's a lot of greenwashing going on. However, to try to determine exactly what is or is not ESG is better left to the market. I say to her how about defining 'value' or 'growth' investing while she's at it!
'Fooling ourselves' to focus on 'amorphous' social investing factors, says SEC Commissioner Peirce, by Pippa Stevens, December 17, 2019, CNBC, USA.

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10 Sustainable Investing Stories of 2019. "We examine the developments and consider their implications for 2020."

[COMMENTARY]An excellent overview of what happened in US sustainable investing in 2019. Dr. Hale goes from the immediacy of climate change, an analysis of proxy voting, concerns around the SEC rolling back proxy votes, to sustainable investment flows and more.
10 Sustainable Investing Stories of 2019, by Jon Hale, December 12, 2019, Morningstar, USA.

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Conflicting ESG Ratings Are Confusing Sustainable Investors. "There are many ways to score a company on environmental, social, and governance criteria, making the results difficult to compare."

[COMMENTARY] Company ESG ratings by the leading ESG rating firms show marked differences. All ethical and sustainable investors should read this article.
Conflicting ESG Ratings Are Confusing Sustainable Investors, by Jacqueline Poh, December 11, 2019, Bloomberg, USA.

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Nasdaq Sustainable Bond Network [NSBN] Builds a Framework for a Sustainable Future. "Nasdaq formed the first Sustainable Bonds Market in 2015, and NSBN enhances the sustainable bonds' investment process, allowing investors to source detailed information on sustainable bonds for product due-diligence, selection and monitoring."

[COMMENTARY] This is a much-needed market development for trading green bonds.
Nasdaq Sustainable Bond Network [NSBN] Builds a Framework for a Sustainable Future, by MarketInsite, December 10, 2019, USA.

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Green bonds set for shake up as EU agrees rules for sustainable financial products. "The $200 billion green bond market is set for a shake up after the European Union on Thursday reached a deal on a new set of rules governing which financial products can be called 'green' and 'sustainable'."

[COMMENTARY] It's good to see some standardization in the definition of green bonds. I hope that these standards will give rise to similar standards globally. That will help all investors.
Green bonds set for shake up as EU agrees rules for sustainable financial products, by Jonas Ekblom, December 5, 2019, Reuters, Belgium.

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Our (Morningstar) Sustainability Rating Methodology Got an Upgrade. "The enhanced version differs from its predecessor in three ways: First, it is focused on material ESG risk, rather than on a broader array of ESG issues, some of which may not be financially material to investors. Second, company ESG risks can now be compared across industries, rather than only within industry peer groups. And third--the new rating is simple and transparent, no longer requiring a complicated calculation."

[COMMENTARY] The new ratings' regime is a terrific upgrade from the previous one! Ethical and sustainable investors will be well served by these changes.
Our Sustainability Rating Methodology Got an Upgrade, by Jon Hale, December 2, 2019, Morningstar, USA.

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MSCI arms all investors with ESG ratings of 2,800 top firms. "The ratings provider said in a statement it had made public on its website the ratings on the companies in its All-Country World Index .MIWD00000PUS 'to help ... identify the most financially relevant ESG risks and opportunities.'"

[COMMENTARY] This is good news for all ethical and sustainable investors! For company rating information, click here.
MSCI arms all investors with ESG ratings of 2,800 top firms, by Simon Jessop, Carolyn Cohn, November 25, 2019, Reuters, UK.

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ESG in credit markets -- what's material? "When it comes to applying ESG insights in credit markets, we find some early evidence that a deeper understanding of materiality can help deliver a financial edge. What do we mean by materiality? It's the connection between exposure to given sustainable properties and returns or risk, as we write in our new paper Sustainability: the bond that endures."

[COMMENTARY] Provides a good outline of what is material to investors concerning ESG from a credit perspective.
ESG in credit markets -- what's material? By Andre Bertolotti at Blackrock, November 25, 2019, Nasdaq, USA.

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Fossil fuel divestment will increase carbon emissions, not lower them -- here's why. "Recent research suggests that divestment can reduce the flow of investment into these companies. But even if the divestment movement were successful in reducing the economic power of these companies, IOCs currently only produce about 10% of the world's oil.

The rest is mostly produced by national oil companies (NOCs) -- state-owned behemoths such as Saudi Aramco, National Iranian Oil Company, China National Petroleum Corporation and Petroleos de Venezuela, located mostly in low and middle income countries."

[COMMENTARY] An important analysis concerning fossil fuel divesting.
Fossil fuel divestment will increase carbon emissions, not lower them -- here's why. By Stefan Andreasson, November 25, 2019, The Conversation, Canada.

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IA launches ESG definitions. "The [UK] Investment Association has launched industry-wide definitions on responsible and ESG investing in an attempt to create a common language for advisers, fund managers and consumers."

[COMMENTARY] The UK's Investment Association could be setting an industry standard that might possibly be used globally. I'm happy to see this occur as it has been a long time coming!
IA launches ESG definitions, by Imogen Tew, November 18, 2019, FT Advisor, UK.

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'Formal Commitment' to ESG Investing Stalls. "Managers cite client unfamiliarity with ESG factors (26%), the perception that considering ESG issues have a negative impact on performance (25%), and difficulty defining the boundaries of ESG (25%) as major challenges to client receptivity."

[COMMENTARY] I think that many managers underestimate how knowledgeable and receptive to ESG their clients are.
'Formal Commitment' to ESG Investing Stalls, by John Sullivan, November 15, 2019, 401k Specialist, USA.

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Millennials see retirement and financial planning differently than other generations. "Recent research from the Public Policy Forum (PPF) in Ottawa shows millennials have a very different perspective on retirement and financial planning than previous generations... Its research outlines the many challenges that financial planners and financial advisors will have in securing millennials as clients."

[COMMENTARY] The research cited informs advisors on how to approach and retain millennials as clients.
Millennials see retirement and financial planning differently than other generations, by Keith Costello, November 15, 2019, Investment Executive, Canada.

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Enhancement to Sustainability Rating Emphasizes Material ESG Risk. "Beginning this month, our Morningstar Sustainability Rating incorporates this concept of materiality by adopting a new company-level ESG risk framework developed by Sustainalytics. As a result, the rating now provides greater insight into how well companies in a portfolio are managing the material ESG issues they face both relative to their industries and across industries."

[COMMENTARY] Morningstar is taking a big step forward in its ESG company ratings by including materiality in its ESG ratings -- courtesy of course to Sustainalytics.
Enhancement to Sustainability Rating Emphasizes Material ESG Risk, by Jon Hale, November 11, 2019, Morningstar, USA.

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World Bank launches ESG rating system for sovereigns. "The free-to-use Sovereign ESG Data Portal has been built to equip investors with more detailed ESG information on sustainable development policy indicators and provide information which may support private sector investment in emerging markets and developing countries."

[COMMENTARY] There's a huge trove of information in this World Bank site. However, for ease of use, it lacks an overall ratings' system where a grade is assigned to a country's ESG performance.
World Bank launches ESG rating system for sovereigns, by Joe McGrath, November 7, 2019, UK.

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The Green Short: Funds Target Laggards in Sustainable Shift. "Some mutual funds are now shorting unsustainable companies. More than 1,900 funds aim to invest according to ESG criteria"

[COMMENTARY] It was inevitable that shorting ESG laggards would arise. Now it's here. It's becoming acceptable now that the stock prices of companies leading on ESG criteria frequently outperform. That's why over 1,900 funds aim to have an ESG focus. I've said for decades that ethical and sustainable investing -- ESG -- will become so commonplace that it will just become that standard for markets everywhere. It seems we're on the precipice of that reality!
The Green Short: Funds Target Laggards in Sustainable Shift, by Lucca De Paoli, November 5, 2019, Bloomberg, USA.

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ANALYSIS: Tracking SEC's Evolving Approach to ESG Disclosures. "The SEC is moving--slowly--toward including environmental, social, and governance (ESG) disclosures in public company filings. Although the U.S. House of Representatives' Financial Services Committee in July 2019 rejected a bill that would have aligned ESG reporting standards closer to those found in the EU and required climate change risk factor disclosures, ESG is an issue only likely to gain in prominence in the near future."

[COMMENTARY] As the article above this one clearly shows, companies and the investment industry itself are forcing the SEC to act.
ANALYSIS: Tracking SEC's Evolving Approach to ESG Disclosures, by Preston Brewer, November 4, 2019, Bloomberg Law, USA.

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Advisers [in the UK] face avalanche of ESG questions from clients. "Nearly 70% have been asked about responsible investing in the last six months."

[COMMENTARY] Is it finally happening? Clients telling advisors about their personal values and advisors actually responding to them? I've been waiting decades for this day!
Advisers face avalanche of ESG questions from clients, Cherry Reynard, November 1, 2019, International Advisor, UK.

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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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