Ethical Investing News/Commentaries
Commentaries by Ron
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RIRA, India′s Sustainability Forum, Goes Live.
"RIRA--India′s Sustainability Forum--was officially
launched on the evening of January 29th. The project
went live at a compact event at Mumbai, India
attended by the Founders: Bloomberg, IDFC, GIZ, MCX-
SX and YES Bank; Other Members: Penn Schoen Berland,
Solaron and KPMG; prospect members, partners and
It’s wonderful to see
an ethical investing forum take root
in India! Congratulations to RIRA.
January 29, 2013, Mumbai, India.
RepRisk Announces The Most Controversial
Companies Of 2012.
"Over the past 12 months, RepRisk has detected news
on thousands of companies across the globe in
relation to their environmental, social and
corporate governance (ESG) risks. This report
analyzes documented controversies, both fact and
allegation, related to the 10 firms that received
the highest Peak RepRisk Index 1 in 2012. The
information has been taken from a wide range of
sources analyzed by RepRisk including newspapers,
news sites, NGO and governmental sites, blogs and
Among the top ten are Samsung Group, HSBC
Holdings PLC, and Reebock International Ltd. This
report is a useful read for ethical investors.
The Most Controversial Companies of 2012,
January 2013, RepRisk AG, Switzerland.
Divesting From Fossil-Fuel Companies Is
Unlikely To Harm Endowments, Report Says.
"An analysis released on Tuesday by the Aperio
Group, an investment-management firm that offers its
clients a ’socially responsible index,’ among other
investment strategies, found that while divesting
from fossil-fuel companies does not necessarily add
value to a portfolio, it does not subtract value
from it either, and it increases the risk to
investors at such a modest level as to be
This data is most useful--not just for
educational endowments--but for all fund managers
investors! But what’s not in this
study is the potential for future financial and
stock price risk for carbon-based producers due to
environmental degradation caused by their activities
and the consequences of climate change itself on
Divesting From Fossil-Fuel Companies Is Unlikely to
Harm Endowments, Report Says, by Lee Gardner,
January 29, 2013, The Chronicle of Higher Education,
$13.6 Trillion Invested Sustainably Globally, Says
"The report finds that, globally, at least US$ 13.6
trillion worth of professionally managed assets
incorporate environmental, social and governance (ESG)
concerns into their investment selection and
management. This represents 21.8 percent of the
total assets managed professionally in the regions
covered by the report, conclusively showing that the
sustainable investment industry has significant
scale in the global arena. The Global Sustainable
Investment Review 2012 is a collaboration of the
Global Sustainable Investment Alliance (GSIA), as
well as non-member organizations AfricaSIF.org and
SIF Japan and is the first report to collate the
results from the market studies of regional
sustainable investment forums from Europe, the US,
Canada, Asia, Japan, Australia and Africa.
Sustainable investment information was not available
from the Latin American regions, which do not yet
have an organized sustainable investment forum."
What I’m really happy about is that the various
country and regional social investment organizations
now have a common way of compiling the data--and the
data is impressive!
Global Sustainable Investment Review 2012,
January 2013, Global Sustainable Investment
UK: Three-Quarters Of Independent Financial
Advisors (IFAs) Get Requests For Ethical Investment
"Seventy-three per cent of independent financial
advisers (IFAs) get requests for ethical investment
options from clients, according to a Blue & Green
Tomorrow survey of the industry. Just over half
(51%) say they got the same amount of such requests
in 2012 as they did in 2011, with 10% getting more
and 13% getting less... although these advisers also
report that it is a minority of their total clients
(1 in 9) who ask about it."
Yes, this is good news. However, on a
IFAs still aren’t putting client funds into ethical
investment vehicles: only about 2-3% of retail fund
assets are in ethical investments. Obviously,
UK-CFAs aren’t fully responding to client wishes.
It’s the same situation in most other developed
Three-quarters of IFAs get requests for ethical
investment options, by Simon Leadbetter, January
24, 2013, Blue&Green, UK.
Ethical Investors Step Up Focus On Tax
"Growing anger at aggressive tax avoidance by big
business has prompted ethical investors to consider
shunning shares in companies that don’t pay their
fair share of tax... reports that big companies like
Apple (AAPL.O), Google (GOOG.O) and Vodafone (VOD.L)
pay minimal taxes in some big markets have sparked
public protests in Europe and the United States."
Very few ethical investors are taking this viewpoint to-date.
It certainly has some merit, but remains to be seen
how far this goes.
Ethical investors step up focus on tax avoidance,
by Tom Bergin and Sinead Cruise, January 20, 2013,
Canadian Socially Responsible Investment
Assets Up 16% Since 2010: New Report.
"The Canadian SRI Review 2012, released today, shows
that assets managed under sustainable and socially
responsible guidelines in Canada grew by 16% between
June 30, 2010 (the effective date of the last
report) and December 31, 2011. By comparison, total
assets under management grew by 9% in the same time
period. The report shows that total assets managed
under SRI guidelines is $600.9 billion, up from
$517.9 billion. At $600.9 billion, this represents
20% of assets under management in the financial
industry, up from 19% of the market in 2010. The two
areas that showed the most growth are in the pension
fund sector and impact investing."
These results demonstrate continuing mainstream
acceptance for SRI/ESG/ethical investing approaches
in Canada. Also, the fact that SRI assets are
growing faster than the growth in conventional
assets is highly encouraging!
Canadian socially responsible investment assets up
16% since 2010: new report,
press release, January 17, 2013, Social Investment
Organization (SIO), Canada.
Australian Ethical Fund Top 2012 Performer.
"The latest fund performance survey by Mercer shows
the Perpetual Ethical Fund is the best-performing
Australian fund, with a return of almost 40 per cent
over 2012." This is a great accomplishment. Like
most ethical funds, financials are a big holding. I
see that financials make up 36% of its portfolio.
Perpetual Ethical Fund tops performance as share
funds rebound, by John Collett, January 16,
2013, Brisbane Times, Australia.
UNPRI: ESG Critical To Private Equity
"Two-thirds of corporate buyers of private equity
portfolio companies said that poor performance on
environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors
impacted their willingness to buy the company or
prevented the entire deal, survey results by the
United Nations-backed Principles for Responsible
Investment Initiative has found. The PRI
commissioned PricewaterhouseCoopers... The results
showed that over 80% of companies had reduced the
valuation of an acquisition target or not gone ahead
with a deal because of poor performance on ESG
factors, while 75% said poor performance in this
area had prevented a deal from taking place."
This is great news. It demonstrates how ESG
analysis is going mainstream. The case for including
ESG in investment and portfolio selection is so
obvious. It’s difficult to understand why some people
still oppose it.
UNPRI: ESG Critical to Private Equity Dealmaking,
by Paula Vasan, January 11, 2013, Chief Investment
Left Leaning Investors Invest Less In The
"Managers who donate to Democrats underweight
(relative to non-donors or Republican donors) stocks
that are deemed socially irresponsible. (e.g.,
tobacco, guns and defense, natural resources, and
firms with low KLD scores). This effect is
approximately one-half of the underweighting
observed for socially responsible (SRI) mutual
funds." Though it’s interesting to see this type
of analysis, the findings don’t surprise me.
Left Leaning Investors Invest Less In The ’Sin’
Stocks, by Lisa Mahapatra, January 7, 2013,
Business Insider, USA.
Climate Institute Selects Australia’s Local
Government Super Fund Of NSW As World’s Top Green
"The superannuation fund for 90,000 current and
former NSW council employees, Local Government Super
has been named the world’s No.1 ’green’ retirement
fund, after collecting a swag of awards for its
sustainable investment strategies in the past few
years. LGS, which manages $6.5 billion in funds, was
deemed to be the best fund in a survey of 300 big
retirement funds by the Climate Institute’s first
global asset owners disclosure project."
Congratulations to the Super Fund of New South Wales
for their dedication to sustainability and for their
Super fund tops sustainability poll, by Harvey
Grennan, January 8, 2013, The Sydney Morning Herald,
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