Ethical Investing News/Commentaries:
Commentaries by Ron
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Swiss Banks Engaging Heavily In Funding Sustainable
"OnValues, a Swiss sustainable research
company.... found that Swiss fund managers had
SFr30bn in sustainability assets at the end of 2007,
up 67% from SFr17.9bn at the end of 2006. Including
assets managed in Switzerland for overseas
investors, the total reached SFr34bn.... high net
worth and retail investors overtook institutional
investors in terms of volumes invested to represent
53% of the Swiss sustainability market." As
lovers of orderliness and cleanliness, it is natural
for the Swiss to back sustainable investing.
Swiss private banks behind boom in green funds,
by David Bain, March 31, 2008, wealth-bulletin.com,
Online Report Offers Some Insight Into Trends In
Green investors can glean some idea of consumer
trends, as they pertain to sustainability, in this
Nielson Online report. It can help in researching
green stocks that are good to invest in.
Online consumers’ call for greater transparency in
strategies for environmental sustainability,
March 31, 2008, news release, Neilson, USA.
Want Green Products. -
Americans are likely to spend $104 billion this year
on green products. This study by the Center for
Excellence in Service at the University of
Maryland′s Robert H. Smith School of Business and
technology research firm Rockbridge Associates Inc.
also found that 83% of adult Americans want to
preserve and protect the environment and that there
are too few products servicing this market. This is
good news for green and ethical investors.
National Survey Finds Consumers are Likely to Spend
$104 Billion on Green Technology Products per Year,
press release, March 12, 2008, USA.
The FTSE CSAG
Terror-Free Index Debuts March 31. -
"The new terror-free index, created in
partnership with a Washington, DC-based outfit
tracking terror financing, follows the change in US
law that requires managed funds to dump investments
in companies doing business in the four rogue
nations." Several new ’terror-free’ funds are
likely to be launched on March 31 as well.
Legislation such as we see in the US, only adds
further impetus to socially conscious stock buying.
ON ’TERROR’ FIRMA, by Paul Tharp, March 27,
2008, The New York Post, USA.
Responsible Investing (SRI)/Financial Performance
Hybrid Index To Be Launched By Credit Suisse.
This new index sounds interestingly different. Most
SRI indexes focus on environmental, social and
governance (ESG) issues and the financial
performance of the companies in such indexes is
left-out and for others to determine and interpret.
Ethical investors everywhere will want to watch this
new Credit Suisse index to see how it functions and
to see if other indexes follow its lead in including
financial performance factors in their indexes.
Credit Suisse to launch hybrid SRI/financial
performance index, by Cecilia Valente, March 28,
2008, Thomson Investment Management News, UK.
Compiled For Oxford University Shows, "UK and
global equity ethical funds outperformed the market
over one, three and seven years time periods
matching the market over 10 years." -
Those who believe that ethical funds underperform
their conventional counterparts should make note of
the findings of this report by Jewson Associates,
compiled for Oxford University. Ethical stocks and
bonds get another boost from this report.
Ethical funds on level footing with counterparts,
by Stefanie Ives, March 27, 2008, FT Advisor,
Executives Say Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)
Not High Priority Among Executives. -
It seems the advantage of using corporate social
responsibility is still not apparent for most
companies, according to this survey. "The
Marketing Executives Networking Group... issued
the results of a survey of its members showing that
62.5% of those who participated [in survey] work for
companies that are not engaged in corporate social
responsibility programs. The main reasons given for
this surprising result were lack of interest or
priority." It is difficult to take such surveys
at face value. For instance, I wonder how corporate
social responsibility was defined in their
questionnaire? However, it would support the
findings that most corporations engaged in promoting
their products as green, could be simply
greenwashing. But a positive part to the survey
says, "60% of respondents think that corporate
social responsibility programs have or will have a
positive impact on profitability and overall
performance of the company." As awareness grows
of these benefits, corporations will get on board.
Just How Socially Responsible are Corporations
Today? Press release, March 26, 2008, The
Marketing Executive Networking Group, USA.
Sustainable Investing Mutual Funds Captured 15.2% Of
Net New European Equity Fund Investments In First
Seven Months Of 2007 Compared To 2.6% In 2006.
The research comes from Lipper FERI and encourages
pension funds to get involved in the sustainable
Pension funds milk green trends, by Ruth Liew,
March 26, 2008, Financial Standard,
Investing Market Grows 67% In 2007. -
"The market for sustainable investments in
Switzerland increased 67 pct in 2007 to reach 30 bln
sfr in assets under management against 17.9 bln sfr
the previous year, according to a survey of 19
investment managers by investment consultancy
onValues... The growth came as the Swiss fund
management industry as a whole saw volumes decrease
by 1 pct." The conservative Swiss are showing a
significant movement towards investing in ethical
stocks and bonds!
Swiss ethical investment market grows 67 pct in 2007
- study, (requires free registration), March 25,
2008, Thomson Investment Management News, UK.
Announces Its 2008 CSR Awards. -
These awards relate to effective communication
campaigns concerning aspects of corporate social
responsibility (CSR). Companies winning awards
include Hard Rock, Staples, Pacific Gas, Shell Oil
and Nike. Though these awards are for PR activities,
they do shed light on corporate CSR activities of
specific companies, and for that reason could be of
interest to ethical investors.
PR Award Competition for CSR, March 19, 2008,
Demanding Ethical Banking. -
"Around 16% of people said they looked at a
company’s environmental and ethical credentials when
deciding who to bank with, while 31% said they would
consider these issues when they next took out a
mortgage or opened an account, according to market
analyst Mintel." Do you invest in banks? You
just might like to check if they are a signatory to
the Equator Principles. These are a set of ethical
and environmental guidelines for banking and
investment firms. Morally conscious banking is
Customers demand ethical banking, March 19,
2008, The Press Association, UK.
Government Pension Fund To Exclude Munitions
"Ireland’s National Pensions Reserve Fund (NPRF)
plans to withdraw 27 million euros ($43 million) of
investment from six firms involved in the production
of cluster munitions, Irish media reported on
Wednesday." This is more good news that
government administered funds are moving in the
ethical investing direction. Defence related
companies have been generally doing well in these
Bush years -- and investors have been buying their
stocks. It is just possible that investor appetite
for these stocks could wane in the years ahead!
Ireland’s pension fund to exclude munitions-report,
March 19, 2008, by Andras Gergely; editing by Erica
Billingham, Reuters, Ireland.
Index That Tracks Low-Carbon Companies. -
It is wonderful to see all the big investment firms
getting on the low-carbon bandwagon. This one is
interesting as it tracks companies with a low carbon
footprint in the DJ STOXX 600 index.
UBS launches low-carbon tracker index, March 13,
2008, Environmental Finance, UK.
Adds & Deletes Companies To Its Indexes. -
Ethical investors might like to look at these
changes for what FTSE4Good considers are socially responsible stocks that are
good to invest in.
SEMI- ANNUAL REVIEW OF THE FTSE4GOOD INDICES,
FTSE4Good, March 2008, UK.
Company Rates Canada’s Big Banks On Climate Change
This report says that Canada’s Toronto-Dominion Bank
(TD) and Royal Bank (RBC) lead in climate change.
This is a worthwhile read for anyone interested in
investing in socially conscious banks.
Canada′s big five banks rated on their climate
change performance, press release, March 12,
2008, Ethical Funds, Canada.
Click here for full report.
Network for Sustainable Energy (FiNeSse) Launched In
London is fast becoming the global leader in green
finance. This network invites all green investors to
participate. It has been launched jointly by the
Renewable Energy Association and UK Social
Investment Forum (UKSIF).
UKSIF and REA launch FiNeSse, February 29, 2008,
Environmentalists Defeating Big Oil’s Quest For Huge
New Oil & Gas Project In Russia.
"In a major victory for the environment in
Russia′s far east, the Shell-dominated Sakhalin
Energy Investment Company, Ltd. (Sakhalin Energy)
has withdrawn its applications to the US Export
Import Bank (Ex-Im Bank) and the UK Export Credit
Guarantee Department (ECGD) for hundreds of millions
of dollars in public financing for the Sakhalin II
project... still considering financing for the
controversial project [are] the Royal Bank of
Scotland, and the Japan Bank for International
Cooperation.” Most major banks are signatories
to The Equator Principles which may forbid them to
finance projects of this nature due to the potential
of massive environmental degradation such projects
might cause. This is a test case for international
banks! It will be interesting to watch if any of
them do get involved in financing this project.
WWF-Russia to push banks on financing
responsibilities, March 13, 2008, WWF,
Organic Beauty Standard Launched, OASIS, Backed By
30 Companies. -
"The beauty of OASIS is that as an industry
consensus standard its members range from large,
global brands such as Estee Lauder Companies and
L′Oreal to third party and private label
manufactures to smaller, specialist brands such as
Perfect Organics and Juice Beauty... The organic
beauty and personal care industry has been growing
rapidly, at 15% for the past 15 years. At the end of
2007, US sales of organic personal care products
approached $9 billion representing approximately 15%
of the personal care market." Ethical investors
looking for beauty and personal care stocks that are
good to invest in might want to look at the
companies behind OASIS.
Launch of OASIS The FIRST U.S. ORGANIC standard for
the BEAUTY AND personal care industry, press
release, March 5, 2008, Natural Newswire,
Launch Its First Socially Responsible Mutual Fund.
China, perhaps more than almost any other country,
needs this development to help its industries become
more environmentally and socially responsible. This
is a great step forward for Chinese investors.
China plans 1st "socially responsible" mutual fund,
reporting by Charlie Zhu; Editing by Edmund Klamann,
March 11, 2008, Reuters, China.
Baptists Engage Climate Change. -
Southern Baptists represent the second largest US
church. Forty-four of its leaders are calling for
urgent action on climate change. Their declaration
will serve to promote socially conscious stock
buying among congregation members, as well influence
millions more in other faiths to do the same.
Southern Baptists Back a Shift on Climate Change,
by Neela Banerjee, March 10, 2008, The New York
Offers Unique Tool For Screening US Mutual Funds On
13 Socially Responsible Criteria. -
To my knowledge this is a first in the US. Finally,
socially responsible and ethical investors are able
to easily screen US mutual funds on issues that are
important to them. However, users will observe that
this site is also to promote Calvert’s own socially
responsible funds. Calvert is one of the oldest
socially responsible investing US fund groups.
Know what you own, Calvert Funds, USA.
Portfolio’s Top Ten Polluters. -
Condé Nast Portfolio have an interesting look at
what they consider to be America’s top ten
polluters. If you are looking to invest in
environmentally conscious major corporations, you
might want to begin by excluding some companies.
Here is a good place to start.
10 Worst Corporate Polluters, by Harry Hurt III,
March 2008, Conde Nast Portfolio, USA.
Report: 47% Of 4,645 Participating Companies Already
Have Green Initiatives In Place. -
"Of these firms, 74% cite Corporate Social
Responsibility (CSR) as the main driver for their
green initiative and 52% of the surveyed audience
identified competitive advantage as the second top
pressure for having a green initiative." By
focusing on green issues, companies everywhere are
trying to portray themselves as among the best
corporations to invest in.
Green Is the New Gold, March 6, 2008, CNN Money,
Responsible Investing (SRI) Assets Grow By 18% To
$2.71 trillion In 2007, From $2.29 trillion In 2005. -
The Social Investment Forum, a leading SRI
organization, released its latest report on the
growth of US SRI assets. "Spurred by such
factors as rising institutional investor interest,
growing demand for climate-related renewable energy
alternatives, concerns about the Sudan humanitarian
crisis, and the emergence of new products, socially
responsible investing (SRI) in the United States is
now growing at a much faster pace than the broader
universe of all investment assets under professional
management..." Investing in ethical stocks and
bonds has certainly come-of-age! This is a great
report to read.
Socially Responsible Investing Assets In U.S Surged
18 Percent From 2005 To 2007, Outpacing Broader
Managed Assets, March 5, 2008, press release,
Social Investment Forum, USA.
Shows Canadian Companies Investing More In Socially
Responsible Policies, But Need To Improve Outcomes.
The report by the Richard Ivey School of Business at
The University of Western Ontario, and Jantzi
Research, is breaking new ground in corporate social
responsibility research in Canada. The advantage of
using corporate social responsibility for companies
is seen growing in Canada, as it is around the world.
Ivey/Jantzi report shows Canadian companies need to
step up on CSR, March 4, 2008, press release,
Richard Ivey School of Business, University of
Western Ontario and Jantzi Research. To view
actual study, see
Corporate Social Responsibility in Canada: The 2008
Ivey-Jantzi Research Report - March 2008,
CorporateRegister.com Announces Winners Of Its 2007
Corporate Sustainability Reports. -
Winners for the best sustainability reports include
Vodafone (Best Report), BP, Novo Nordisk, Bayer,
BMW, Coca-Cola Enterprises, and Green Mountain
Coffee Roasters. You might like to review at the list
of award winners here if you are looking for ethical
stocks and bonds.
Reporting Awards, March 3, 2008,
UK Ethical Investments Total £9 Billion At End Of
2007, Up From £1.5 billion in 1997. -
This is tremendous growth. Socially conscious stock
buying is probably growing faster in the UK than in
Ethical investment hits record high of £9 billion,
February 29, 2008, EIRIS, UK.
Chartered Financial Analysts (CFAs) Say 42% Of
Canadian Investors Are Paying More attention To
Green Or Ethical Investing Products. -
The question was among several in a first-ever poll
of Canadian CFAs about investor attitudes. Despite
investor sentiment being considerably bearish, the
answer to this question on green and ethical
investing was decidedly upbeat.
Poll by Canadian Chartered Financial Analysts
reveals current investor attitudes towards their
RRSP holdings, press release, March 3, 2008,
Toronto CFA Society, Canada.
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