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"80% [of investors] are interested in sustainable investments that can be customized to meet their interests and goals."
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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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"70% of people [in UK] want to invest ethically but the financial services industry is failing to respond." Referencing research by Abundance.
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Ethical Investing News/Commentaries
April 2013

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Commentaries by Ron Robins

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GISR Launches Principles For Rating The Raters. - [COMMENTARY] "The nearly two years, a nonprofit called GISR — the Global Initiative for Sustainability Ratings — has been working to create a standard for company-level sustainability ratings. It is doing this, it says, 'to accelerate the integration of environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues and indicators in investment decision-making' by 'building a new standard that equips investors, companies and other stakeholders with the tools to recognize true excellence in corporate sustainability.' That is, to get Wall Street and its counterparts around the world singing from the same hymnal on sustainability."

This is a great step forward. With this new standard investors will be able to compare 'apples with apples.' Let's hope it's adopted soon!
GISR launches principles for rating the raters, by Joel Makower, April 19, 2013, GreenBiz, USA.

Only 1.4% of S&P Companies Have Fully Integrated Reporting. - [COMMENTARY] "American Electric Power, Clorox, Dow Chemical, Eaton, Ingersoll Rand, Pfizer and Southwest Airlines are the only companies in the S&P 500 — just 1.4 percent of the total — with fully integrated annual financial and sustainability reports, according to a study from the IRRC Institute and the Sustainable Investments Institute (Si2)." These are early days yet for integrated reporting--the combining of financial/management/CSR/ESG reports--in one annual report. However, it probably won't be too long before many more companies adopt it.
Only 1.4% of S&P Companies Have Fully Integrated Reporting, April 29, 2013, Environmental Leader, USA.

Infy, HCL Tech, Wipro Among The Greenest In BRICS. - [COMMENTARY] "Sixty-one per cent of the companies in the five BRICS countries - Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa - do not publicly disclose their carbon emission details, according to a survey by Environmental Investment Organisation (EIO), a UK-based climate change and finance think tank. In the EIO survey, three Indian companies - Infosys (fourth), HCL Technologies (fifth) and Wipro (sixth) - have emerged among the top 10 companies with least emissions. This is part of a ranking of the 300 largest companies in the BRICS region, taking into account greenhouse gas emissions and transparency factors."

This article describes how companies are doing in the BRICS countries with regard to sustainability. It's a useful read of ethical investors desiring to invest in emerging markets.
Infy, HCL Tech, Wipro among the greenest in BRICS, by Shine Jacob, April 29, 2013, Business Standard, India.

Thomson Reuters Launches Corporate Responsibility Indices. - [COMMENTARY] "Thomson Reuters, the world's leading source of intelligent information for businesses and professionals, today announced the launch of a new family of environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) indices. The Thomson Reuters Corporate Responsibility Indices were developed jointly with S-Network Global Indexes, a New York based specialist index design firm, as an objective and transparent, rules-based benchmarking solution for measuring ESG performance. The announcement of the launch of the indices was made today at the CSR Investing Summit in New York." Obviously, the proliferation of these indices must indicate to the wider investing public that ESG factors do matter and that money can be made with them.
Thomson Reuters Launches Corporate Responsibility Indices, press release, April 24, 2013, Thomson Reuters, USA.

Two US polls Contradict Independent Research On Sustainable Investment. - [COMMENTARY] "Both articles appear under headlines that perhaps reflect the bias of the publisher, with results that may contain sample bias, based on who was contacted and who responded. Blue & Green Tomorrow probed Spectrem’s Millionaire Corner on this. When contacted, Spectrem’s Millionaire Corner didn’t respond to an email asking for the wording of the question that brought about the social responsibility results. A representative did offer to create a chart about one aspect of their survey, but added that the raw data was not available."

Readers of this site might note my earlier comments about Millionaire Corner's survey. That comment stated, "How questions are framed plays a great role in how they're answered. Had the questions been framed around ESG rather than social responsibility, I'm sure we would've seen a very different--and more positive--response." I'm glad to see that Blue & Green Tomorrow actually contacted Millionaire Corner--but I'm saddened by the lack of cooperation they got from them. It makes one wonder how ethical Millionaire Corner is.
Two US polls contradict independent research on sustainable investment, by Alex Blackburne, April 18, 2013, Blue & Green Tomorrow, UK.

Top Industries Unprofitable If They Had To Pay For Consumption Of Natural Capital. - [COMMENTARY] "The total unpriced natural capital consumed by the more than 1,000 'global primary production and primary processing region-sectors' amounts to $7.3 trillion dollars a year — 13 percent of 2009 global GDP... Of the top 20 region-sectors ranked by environmental impacts, none would be profitable if environmental costs were fully integrated."

I've suspected this for sometime. It's good to finally get some real research on this topic. It really provides us with some concrete idea as to the real costs of our consumer society that one day will have to be met! This report might provide some ethical investors with a perspective of where they might want to invest.
None of the world’s top industries would be profitable if they paid for the natural capital they use, by David Roberts, April 17, 2013, grist, USA.

Q1 Global Green Investment Hits 4-Year Low Of $40.6B. - [COMMENTARY] "Global economics, regulatory uncertainty and falling PV and wind power costs are playing a role in declining greentech investment figures." Government policy uncertainty relating to green investment support in the US and Germany play a significant role influencing these lower numbers.
Q1 Global Green Investment Hits 4-Year Low of $40.6B, by Jeff St. John, April 15, 2013, Greentechmedia.com, USA.

Online Course On The Fundamentals Of Sustainable And Responsible Investment Launched By The US SIF Foundation. - [COMMENTARY] "Today, the US SIF Foundation launched the Center for Sustainable Investment Education and the Center’s inaugural online course, Fundamentals of Sustainable and Responsible Investment. This is the first online course on sustainable investment for financial advisors and other investment professionals to be launched in the United States." This is a good step forward to encourage more investment/financial advisors to offer socially responsible/ethical investments.
Online course on the Fundamentals of Sustainable and Responsible Investment launched by the US SIF Foundation, press release, April 9, 2013, US SIF Foundation, USA.

A New Breed Of Mutual Funds: The Activist Fund. - [COMMENTARY] "In what mutual fund manager IA Clarington Investments is calling the first of its kind in Canada, retail investors are being offered a product that “will invest in companies where an activist investor has disclosed an intention to change or influence the management or control of a company. But the fund, which is just being launched and will be managed by Larry Sarbit, a veteran of the investment world who also manages the IA Clarington Sarbit U.S. Equity Fund, will not itself be an activist investor. Instead it will invest in those companies that an activist investor has targeted.”

Though such funds aren't really ethical funds, they do bear some relationship to them. Often, unethical or badly governed companies are targeted by others who believe they can do better. It'll be interesting to see how such a fund performs.
IA Clarington Investments launches fund to invest in activist investor targeted companies, by Barry Critchley, Financial Post, Canada. (This article, dated a month ago, just came to my attention, courtesy of Ken Kivenko.)

New Research Report Reveals Corporate Social Responsibility Trends In Mid-sized Companies. - [COMMENTARY] "Two-thirds of mid-sized companies are seeking to either enhance or establish their CSR programs to do business with a purpose. About 60 percent of mid-sized companies focus their CSR efforts on education, demonstrating companies' dedication to people-focused initiatives that cater to young people and the development of the workforce of the future." The great thing about mid-sized companies is that they grow out of their communities and hence have a deeper attachment to those communities.
New Research Report Reveals Corporate Social Responsibility Trends in Mid-sized Companies, press release, April 10, 2013, Business4Better Movement, USA.

For UK Ethical Investors, Blue&Green Tomorrow Has Created A Guide to Ethical Financial Advice 2013. - [COMMENTARY] "Welcome to Blue & Green Tomorrow’s Guide to Ethical Financial Advice 2013. Here, you’ll find all the information you need on where to find a specialist ethical financial adviser near you. Profiling members of the Ethical Investment Association (EIA), as well as looking into the history of financial advice more generally, after reading the guide you will be able to make a more informed decision about whether such an ethical adviser is most appropriate for you." It's a great guide, particularly for novice UK investors, interested in looking into ethical investing.
Introducing: The Guide to Ethical Financial Advice 2013, by  Alex Blackburne, April 10, 2013, Blue&Green Tomorrow, UK.

Survey Says American High Net Worth Investors Not Big On SRI. - [COMMENTARY] "Social responsibility doesn’t factor into the investment decisions of a large majority of high net worth investors, who say they invest purely to make money, according to a newly published report from Spectrem’s Millionaire Corner. High net worth investors give great weight to investment fundamentals: Close to 95 percent considers the risk associated with an investment. Nearly 90 percent are concerned with diversification of investment products and 81 percent worry about tax implications, according to our new study, 2013 UHNW Investor Changing Investor Attitudes and Behaviors. Less than 20 percent factor in social responsibility."

How questions are framed plays a great role in how they're answered. Had the questions been framed around ESG rather than social responsibility, I'm sure we would've seen a very different--and more positive--response.
High net worth not big socially responsible investments, by Adriana Reyneri, April 9, 2013, Spectrem's Millionaire Corner, USA.

Crisis Has Hit Companies’ Social Responsibility, Poll Suggests. - [COMMENTARY] "Some 74% of Brazilians, 65% of Chinese, 62% of Indians, and 44% of Americans believe their companies have taken corporate social responsibility (CSR) more seriously over the past decade... 39% of Europeans believe that companies pay less attention to their influence on society than they did 10 years ago, with 40% saying they pay more attention, putting Europe at the bottom of the international league table." This probably also reflects the fact that developed country consumers are rating most of their institutions very poorly these days.
Crisis has hit companies’ social responsibility, poll suggests, by Marc Hall, April 5, 2013, EurActive, Belgium.

Transparent Investment Policies Can Boost Charity Donations. - [COMMENTARY] "Charity behaviour and investment transparency can positively influence potential and current donors, according to research by microfinance provider Oikocredit. Its study found that 48% of people donating to charity were more likely to donate to ones that made their investment goals clear. It also showed that members of the public were influenced stronger by a charity’s investment practices than its advertising." It has always amazed me how many charities allow their fund managers to invest in companies whose activities run afoul of the charities' own goals.
Transparent investment policies can boost charity donations, by Emma Websdale, April 5, 2013, Blue & Green, UK.

Twenty Years On, Corporate Sustainability Still Lacking. - [COMMENTARY] "After 20 years of rating corporate sustainability efforts, German-based oekom research has found that global giants have not been doing nearly enough in their commitments to sustainability. In its most recent annual report, oekom found that only one in six -- 16.7 percent -- of the companies rated has a "good" level of commitment."

It's not surprising that most companies are 'minimalists' when it comes to encompassing sustainability. However, how much longer they can remain lazy about sustainability remains a question as stock markets, stakeholders and governments become increasingly involved in promoting it.
Twenty years on, corporate sustainability still lacking, by Robert Kropp, April 3, 2013, GreenBiz, 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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