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"Almost three-quarters of investors (74 percent) would be more likely to work with an advisor who could give them competitive investment returns from investments that also made a positive impact on society and 65 percent of investors would be more likely to stay with an advisor who could discuss responsible investing with them."
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"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."
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Ethical Investing News/Commentaries: Feb. 2012

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Commentaries by Ron Robins

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Younger Americans More Inclined To Socially Responsible Investing. - [COMMENTARY] "Younger investors are more apt to make socially and environmentally responsible investments, according to a February investor survey conducted by Millionaire Corner... investors under 40 were most resolute in their intention to make socially responsible investments. Nearly half (49 percent) said they are likely to do so, compared to 41.5 percent of those ages 41-50 and 38 percent of boomers ages 51-60 (somewhat surprising in that this generation is defined in part by its commitment to social causes). Seniors over 60 were the least likely to make this kind of investment (26 percent)."

Younger people are concerned with their long-term quality of life and income. Seniors want income now.
Socially Responsible Investments a Higher Priority for Younger Investors, February 28, 2012, Millionaire's Corner, USA.

Over $3 Trillion Invested In Green Transition. - [COMMENTARY] "Ethical Markets Media, LLC (USA and Brazil), released their 2012 GREEN TRANSITION SCOREBOARD® tracking private sector investments since 2007 in green companies and technologies globally, now totalling more than $3.3 trillion. The 2012 Green Transition Scoreboard® (GTS) report finds Asia, Europe and Latin America catching up with the USA in total non-government investments and commitments for all facets of green markets."

This is one trend that has a bright long-term future and which virtually all ethical investors participate in. Congratulations to Hazel Henderson and Ethical Markets for their tremendous work gathering the data.
Detailed Research Shows Over $3 Trillion Invested in Green Transition, February 29, 2012, Ethical Markets, USA.

FTSE Launches New Carbon Indices. - [COMMENTARY] "Investors and businesses in Europe, Japan and Australia will from today be provided with a new tool for tracking large firms' exposure to carbon-related risks, after the FTSE Group launched four new green indices as part of its FTSE CDP Carbon Strategy Index Series. Developed in partnership with the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) and analyst firm ENDS carbon, the new indices apply a weighting to existing equity indices based on a company's level of exposure to carbon-related risks such as new environmental policies and climate change impacts."

FTSE has been a pioneer in SR-ethical investing indices, and no doubt these will be widely followed. Ethical investors can only benefit from these added indices.
FTSE accelerates green push with new Carbon Strategy indices, by James Murray, February 28, 2012, Business Green, UK.

Corporate Knights 2012 Canadian Responsible Investing Mutual Funds Rankings. - [COMMENTARY] "The 10th annual RI fund ranking is a resource designed to help investors make an educated judgement on which funds have done the best job of fusing the social, environmental, and financial values they bring to the table. Investors can best utilize our chart by making their own assessment based on each fund's characteristics." There is good information here for Canadian ethical investors.
The 2012 Responsible Investing Guide, February 23, 2012, Corporate Knights, Canada. For discussion by James Daw, see: Responsible Investing: weighing the impact?

Canada's Social Investment Organization Pushes For Mandating Advisors To Ask Clients About SRI. - [COMMENTARY] "The SRI question could be part of the process to open new accounts with clients or part of the annual review, says SIO executive director Eugene Ellmen."

Eugene, I'm really with you on this! Every investor survey says that investors are mostly in favour of SR-ethical investing, yet advisors don't want to know that. It seems that for whatever their reason--laziness, incentives, stale beliefs, whatever--advisors fail in what should be their most important rule: 'know thy client!' Because most of them don't follow that rule, their regulators need to take them to task on it. The story is the same for the US, UK, and for most countries.
Group pushes for mandatory SRI question, by Doug Watt, February 21, 2012, Advisor.ca, Canada.

Bombay Stock Exchange To Launch New Green Index. - [COMMENTARY] "The Bombay Stock Exchange will launch a new index, BSE Greenex, on Wednesday. The index will track companies which are friendly to the environment based on a methodology provided by IIM-Ahmedabad. The index will also track companies that have minimum carbon footprint. BSE will also launch a guideline for investors which will help them understand the relationship between the amount of carbon footprints of each company and the respective short-term and long-term impact on its investment and returns."

It's great to see the developing world stock exchanges doing this. It makes it easier for developed world ethical investors to invest in emerging markets.
BSE to launch Greenex, the green index, February 22, 2012, Business Standard, India.

FT Has Interesting Article On Sovereign Bond ESG Ratings. - [COMMENTARY] "The ESG ratings on Greece, Italy, Spain, Portugal and Ireland in 2007 were much lower than their conventional bond ratings, according to James Gifford, executive director of the United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment." With the losses on Greek bonds that investors are hit with today, one would think that all bond investors would want to see and understand sovereign bond ratings according to ESG performance!
Fund file: bond reality check needed? By Emma Boyde, February 19, 2012, FT blog, UK.

Japanese Study Says No Difference In SRI Vs. Conventional Fund Returns. - [COMMENTARY] "Our results indicate that the adoption of a social screen does not decrease the efficiency of portfolios when compared to those from an unrestricted universe. Specifically, the results demonstrate that conventional indexes do not outperform SRI indexes. Furthermore, our results have positive implications for SRI. Investors are able to pursue environmental and social goals without a significant sacrifice in terms of risk and return combinations."

When reviewing the results of these types of studies, it might be time to not lump them all together. These studies need to be classified as to whether they are focused on SRI, ethics, or just the 'E' (environmental) of ESG, etc. Only then can we obtain a clearer picture of what most drives superior returns. Most recent studies focusing on sustainability seem to show higher long-term returns.

Do Socially Responsible Investment Indexes Outperform Conventional Indexes? By Shunsuke Managi (Tohoku University), Tatsuyoshi Okimoto (Hitotsubashi University), and Akimi Matsuda (Nomura Securities Co., Ltd.), February 14, 2012, Japan.

Osmosis, A UK Investment Manager, Provides More Evidence That Optimizing Resources Improves Corporate Financial & Stock Performance. - [COMMENTARY] "Osmosis pulls together information on how companies use energy, waste and water. It has compiled a basket of more than 1,200 global companies, which it monitors monthly. The basket has outperformed the MSCI World index by more than 5 percentage points a year over the past seven years... "

As the mainstream investment industry understands that sustainably oriented companies can outperform, look for them to invest ever-greater funds in sustainably focused companies. This will further the gains for sustainable stocks.
Resource strategy put to the test, by Ruth Sullivan, February 19, 2012, Financial Times, UK.

New Europe-US Partnership To Spur Organic Food Sales. - [COMMENTARY] "Under a deal announced yesterday by trade representatives for each region, products certified as organic by either the U.S. Department of Agriculture or the E.U.'s Agriculture and Regional Development department are authorized for sale in either Europe or the U.S." US and European organic products now have the ability to grow their sales significantly!
Europe-US Partnership Creates Huge New Market for Organic Foods, by Matthew Wheeland, February 17, 2012, GreenBiz, USA.

US Heartland Scandal Might Force Companies To Be Transparent With Donations. - [COMMENTARY] "Companies have been warned they must be more transparent about their funding of lobbying groups in the light of leaked documents that apparently detail corporate donations to US climate-sceptic think-tank the Heartland Institute." Laws everywhere should require transparency of all donations by public companies.
Will the Heartland Scandal Force Transparency on Company Donors? By Will Nichols, February 16, 2012, GreenBiz, USA.

New US Sustainable Utility Index Launched. - [COMMENTARY] "Target Rock Advisors, LLC today released the results of its first proprietary U.S. utility sustainability rankings and related stock indexes. The company has identified 15 'high performance' domestic energy utilities that excel in sustainable operations. The top 5... are: 1. Sempra Energy (NYSE: SRE); 2. Xcel Energy Inc. (NYSE: XEL); 3. PG&E Corporation (NYSE: PCG); 4. Edison International (NYSE: EIX); and 5. Avista Corporation (NYSE: AVA)."

For ethical investors, this will be an interesting index to follow. I'm not aware of any other indices specifically covering purported 'sustainable' US utilities.
New Sustainable Utility Index Launched, press release, February 14, 2012, Target Rock Advisors, USA.

Ceres Says Its Shareholder Resolutions Are Successful. - [COMMENTARY] "The short report, Proxy Power: Shareholder Successes on Climate, Energy & Sustainabiity, looks at what successes resulted from 233 sustainability-focused resolutions filed by Ceres' network of investors. Just under half of those resolutions -- 111, or 48 percent -- were wins, where companies agreed to address the investors' concerns and the resolutions were withdrawn. And once companies agree to address shareholder resolutions, they are good to their word." This report is very encouraging for shareholder activism, which will please many ethical investors.
Ceres Shines a Light on the Power of Shareholder Proxy Votes, by Matthew Wheeland, February 13, 2012, GreenBiz, USA.

Portfolio Managers Doing Poorly In Integrating ESG Issues, Says Mercer. - [COMMENTARY] "Only 9 per cent of more than 5,000 ESG strategies analysed gained top ratings in the three years to the end of 2011 in Mercer’s study. The ratings are based on the extent to which portfolio managers integrate ESG into the investment process and follow good stewardship practice, such as engaging with investee companies... Emerging markets and Asia-Pacific showed the highest proportion of top ratings, Canada the least."

Just when we thought that ESG was becoming mainstream in portfolio management, Mercer shows it is not so--yet. It will be interesting to see if the London firms that recently fired their dedicated ESG analysis teams are able to successfully integrate--as they say--ESG factors into the work of their other investment management teams!
Managers fail on ESG integration, by Ruth Sullivan, February 12, 2012, Financial Times, UK.

US Pension Funds Call On Dell, Intel & Motorola To Hold Suppliers Responsible. - [COMMENTARY] "Comptroller John C. Liu and the New York City Pension Funds called on Dell, Intel, and Motorola to follow the example set by other tech giants who have adopted their shareholder effort to increase their suppliers’ compliance with internationally-recognized standards of human and worker rights. Apple, Hewlett Packard, and Microsoft all recently adopted new policies after discussions with the Comptroller’s office and the Pension Funds."

Considering how Dell and Intel particularly, desire to project their CSR image, this should be a no-brainer for them. Also, Google should be able to pressure its proposed new subsidiary, Motorola Mobility, to get behind this too.
LIU CALLS ON DELL, INTEL, MOTOROLA TO HOLD SUPPLIERS RESPONSIBLE, press release, February 9, 2012, USA.

Companies Falling Short On CSR Promises, Study. - [COMMENTARY] "Whether eliminating child labor, creating environmentally friendly technology or working against all forms of corruption, many corporations fail to become socially responsible despite promises to change, a new University of Michigan study found."

Concerning government coaxing, developing countries' governments have more clout, says the study. The authors want more government action so that CSR is more than PR for many companies.
Many companies fall short of social responsibility promises. Study authors are Alwyn Lim and Kiyoteru Tsutsui, University of Michigan. Reporting by Jared Wadley, February 8, 2012, University of Michigan News Service, USA.

Greenpeace Rates Google, Cisco, Fujitsu Tops In Green IT Rankings. - [COMMENTARY] "Overall, the latest rankings show a steep decline from the fourth round of scores, which were published in December 2010, during the Cancun climate talks. Cisco led the prior round's pack with a score of 70, while Google held down fourth place with a score of 47. The decline in overall scores reflects what Greenpeace calls a lack of steady progress in the greening of IT, even as demand for IT services, particularly in cloud computing, is rapidly increasing."

Ethical funds often invest a high percentage of their assets in IT companies. You might want to see how the IT companies in your fund(s) are rated by Greenpeace.
Greenpeace Puts Google, Cisco, Fujitsu at Top of Green IT Rankings, by Matthew Wheeland, February 8, 2012, GreenBiz, USA.

US States Requiring Insurers To Disclose Climate Risks. - [COMMENTARY] "Insurance commissioners in California, New York and Washington State will require that companies disclose how they intend to respond to the risks their businesses and customers face from increasingly severe storms and wildfires, rising sea levels and other consequences of climate change, California’s commissioner said Wednesday."

It's about time that governments everywhere started requiring insurance companies to produce such information. The hidden potential losses from climate change impacts are too great for any of us to ignore. For some time now many ethical investors have been greatly concerned about this problem and frequently avoided investing in insurers for lack of information on their climate change exposure.
Three States to Require Insurers to Disclose Climate-Change Response Plans, by Felicity Barringer, February 1, 2012, The New York Times, USA.

Widespread SEC Disclosure Noncompliance Triggered by Material ESG Issues. - [COMMENTARY] "Widespread corporate noncompliance with SEC requirements triggered by material ESG issues may cause many SEC filings to be materially misleading, inaccurate, or even fraudulent, finds the first independent, comprehensive technical study of how the SEC regime applies to ESG issues, conducted by CSR Insight(TM) LLC."

I suspect that companies that don't comply with ESG disclosure policies--whether SEC regulated or not--will face market penalties, including that of stock prices. However, this study suggests that SEC noncompliance penalties could be significant too.
Widespread SEC Disclosure Noncompliance Triggered by Material ESG Issues, press release, February 6, 2012, CSR Insight(TM) LLC, USA.

Higher Stock Prices Result From Corporate Press Releases On Sustainability. - [COMMENTARY] "Using voluntary disclosures made through the CSR newswire service, we find that managers’ disclosure decisions involving greenhouse gas emissions produce positive returns to shareholders. This response varies negatively with company size and public information availability. For small companies in a limited public information environment, we find that mean adjusted share price increases significantly by 2.32 percent over days -2 to 2 around the CSR newswire release date."

Again, more reasons for companies to go green. This is the first study that I'm aware of that looks at stock prices from the point of view of press release impact.
Going Green: Market Reaction to CSR Newswire Releases, by Paul A. Griffin and Yuan Sun, University of California, USA. For a good review of their study see, Companies Get a Boost in Stock from Reporting Greenhouse Gas Info, by Jonathan Bardelline, February 6, 2012, GreenBiz, USA.

EUROSIF’s European SRI Transparency Code Attracts 350 Signatories. - [COMMENTARY] "The European SRI Transparency Code, a document outlining guidelines for maintaining the transparency of socially responsible investing (SRI), has attracted approximately 350 signatories. The code was established in 2004 by the European Sustainable Investment Forum (EUROSIF), a France-based network that focuses on raising accountability to investors and stakeholders of retail SRI funds, with the aim of increasing the sustainability of financial markets...  Signatories to the code commit to submitting clear, informative and detailed information that is updated annually and easily accessible on their websites."

Signatories to the code include many large financial institutions. The code is another plus for ethical investing.
European Sustainable Investment Forum’s (EUROSIF’s) European SRI Transparency Code Attracts 350 Signatories, press release, February 6, 2012, France.

Australia's Financial Services Institute Issues ESG Guidelines For Superannuation (Retirement) Funds. - [COMMENTARY] "'The acceptance of ESG principles by Australian superannuation funds is growing but most funds … are struggling with either developing policies or with policy implementation,' according to the report, 'Implementing Environmental, Social & Governance Principles in Investment Decisions.'” ESG rules for corporate reporting continue to grow globally. In a few years, investors will look back in astonishment how they ever got by without seeing companies report on ESG issues.
ESG principle push targets Australian superannuation funds, by Barry B. Burr, February 3, 2012, Pensions & Investments, Australia.

Multinationals Failing To Push Emissions Reductions Down Supply Chain. - [COMMENTARY] "Multinational companies are failing to encourage similar levels of emissions reductions in their supply chains as they are managing in their own operations – despite high levels of supply-chain climate risk. According to the fourth annual study from the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) supply chain programme, only 28% of suppliers have achieved year-on-year emissions reductions, compared with 43% of responding companies among the initiative’s 49 members."

I don't believe we need to be surprised by this. It seems fitting that multinationals have to first set an example to their suppliers.
Multinationals failing to push emissions reductions down supply chain, by Mark Nicholls, February 1, 2012, Environmental Finance, UK.

US SRI Organizations Urge US Government House Leaders To Act On Transparency In Human Trafficking Bill. - [COMMENTARY] "Christian Brothers Investment Services (CBIS), a leader in socially responsible investing; the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR); US SIF: The Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment; and Calvert Investments are among 80 signatories to a letter sent Jan. 26, 2012, to Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio, Speaker of the House of Representatives, and Rep. Eric Cantor R-Va., House Majority Leader, calling on them to take the steps necessary to quickly bring the Business Transparency on Trafficking and Slavery Act (H.R. 2759) before the full House for a vote."

This appears to be an important piece of social legislation. It remains to be seen if the Republicans back it.
COALITION OF SOCIALLY RESPONSIBLE INVESTORS URGE HOUSE LEADERS TO ACT ON BUSINESS TRANSPARENCY ON HUMAN TRAFFICKING BILL, press release, February 2, 2012, Christian Brothers Investment Services/Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR)/Calvert Investments, Inc., USA.

Great New Book. Evolutions in Sustainable Investing: Strategies, Funds and Thought Leadership, by Cary Krosinsky, Nick Robins, and Stephen Viederman, Wiley 2011. Good review by Robert Kropp, SocialFunds, USA.

Reuters Launches New Australian Islamic Stock Index. - [COMMENTARY] "Thomson Reuters and Crescent Wealth, the Australian Islamic investment manager, have launched an Islamic investment index for Australia to help open up this resource-rich market to Islamic finance investors globally. The Thomson Reuters Crescent Wealth Islamic Australia Index will cover 143 equities with combined market capitalisation of $160 billion, said the company in a statement."

As can be seen by news developments, Islamic stock indices and finance continue to make significant gains. As they grow, they help promote the concepts of ethics in finance and investing.
Reuters launches Australian Islamic index, February 1, 2012, Trade Arabia News Service, USA.

Egyptian Officials Want Islamic Index. - [COMMENTARY] "Egypt’s newly-elected Islamists say they want to introduce an index of companies that comply with sharia law as part of a wider move towards an Islamic economy. Officials from Freedom and Justice, the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood, and from Nour, a party of ultraconservative Salafi Islamists, argue that such an index would encourage a slice of investors who, they allege, have shunned the bourse for fear that it might somehow contravene religious law."

It is possible that Egypt could become a major player in Islamic finance. Ethical investors will want to keep an eye open on what happens there, particularly for its potential repercussions on ethical finance globally.
Egyptian officials look to set up Islamic index, by Heba Saleh, February 1, 2012, Egypt.

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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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