Ethical Investing News/Commentaries
Commentaries by Ron
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Public Backing for Going Beyond GDP Remains
Strong: Global Poll.
"The public around
the world remains strongly in favour of replacing
GDP with a broader way of reporting national
progress, according to a new global poll released
today. The study, conducted by GlobeScan on behalf
of Ethical Markets, business think tank Tomorrow’s
Company and the ICAEW, surveyed 10,845 adults across
11 countries. It shows that more than two-thirds -
68 percent of citizens on average - in the countries
surveyed favour replacing GDP with a broader
indicator embracing health, social and environmental
statistics as well as economic ones. Twenty-three
per cent would rather retain a focus on money-based
presently a number of good alternative indices. The
real question though, is how to wean the global
business community away from the
ridiculously flawed GDP concept? See my editorial,
GDP is a Bad Statistic. Alternatives Coming.
Public Backing for Going Beyond GDP Remains Strong:
Global Poll, press release, May 28, 2013,
polling by GlobeScan and associates, UK.
Morningstar 2013 Global Fund Investor
"The Global Fund Investor Experience report was
designed to encourage a dialogue about global best
practices for mutual funds from the perspective of
fund shareholders. This biennial report
measures the experiences of mutual fund investors in
24 countries in North America, Europe, Asia, and
Africa. Morningstar researchers evaluated countries
in four categories—Regulation & Taxation,
Disclosure, Fees & Expenses, and Sales & Media—with
greater weight given to factual, empirical answers
as well as the high-priority issues of fees, taxes,
and transparency." This survey is worth reading for all
2013 Global Fund Investor Experience by Morningstar,
May 31, 2013, Morningstar, USA.
UK Pension Fund Trade Body Launches
Responsible Investment Guide.
"The National Association of Pension Funds (NAPF)
has launched a guide to responsible investment,
which encourage its members to take factors other
than financial returns into account when investing."
This guide is not only useful for UK pension funds,
but for asset managers everywhere. The guide
demonstrates the increasing relevance of ESG/responsible
Pension fund trade body launches responsible
investment guide, by Ilaria Bertini, May 23,
2013, Blue & Green Tomorrow, UK.
Thomson Reuters Launches Islamic Finance
"Thomson Reuters yesterday launched an Islamic
Finance Development Indicator in collaboration with
the Islamic Corporation for the Development of the
Private Sector (ICD), the private sector development
arm of the Islamic Development Bank (IDB), a press
statement said yesterday. The indicator is a
numerical measure representing the overall health
and growth of the Islamic finance industry
worldwide." The growth of Islamic finance
continues apace and it's only natural that such
indicators will be developed.
Thomson Reuters launches Islamic Finance indicator,
May 22, 2013, The Peninsula, Qatar.
Survey: Most Would Boycott Irresponsible
"Nine out of 10 consumers say they would boycott
companies that are being irresponsible, according to
an international "corporate social responsibility"
report being released Wednesday. And it's more than
theoretical exercise: More than half of consumers in
10 countries say they have refused to buy a product
in the past year because of what they saw as bad
corporate behavior, according to the report by
marketing and public relations agency Cone
Communications, which has specialties in cause
marketing and corporate social responsibility."
Obviously, activist consumers are necessary to
hold companies to account. Hopefully, this trend
will continue. Ethical investors will benefit
greatly from it.
Survey: Most would boycott irresponsible company,
by Jayne O'Donnell, May 21, 2013, USA Today, USA.
Shareholders Press Companies To Disclose More
About Political Spending.
"As regulators wrestle with whether to force
companies to disclose more about their political
spending, an increasing number of shareholders are
taking matters into their own hands, thrusting the
issue before boards of directors at companies across
the country. The number of shareholder proposals
demanding more transparency in political spending
has more than doubled since 2010, jumping from 61 to
128 this proxy season, according to the Sustainable
Investments Institute, a research group that tracks
It seems obvious to me and most ethical
investors that companies should disclose all political
contributions. Transparency of all spending should
be available to shareholders. Company boards and
officers should not be allowed to secretly support
their political favourites with company funds.
Shareholders press companies to disclose more about
political spending, by Dina ElBoghdady, May 17,
2013, Washington Post, USA.
European Responsible Investment Grown 19%
"Assets under management in European responsible
investment funds now total €237.9 billion (£201
billion) – a 19% increase since 2010 – according to
a survey by the Association of the Luxembourg Fund
Industry (ALFI). The European Responsible Investment
Fund Survey, published by accountancy giant KPMG on
behalf of ALFI, found that the proportion of
responsible investment assets compared to the total
had increased by 1.6%." In time, most of the
conventional fund industry will also move towards a
responsible-ethical investing approach. They will
realize that evaluating investments on an ESG basis
simply makes more money.
European responsible investment grown 19% since
2010, by Emma Websdale, May 16, 2013, Blue &
Green Tomorrow, UK.
Investor Group Proposes ESG Disclosure Rules.
"The Ceres-led Investor Network on Climate Risk has
proposed that companies listed on US and global
stock exchanges be required to include a series of
environmental, social and governance sustainability
disclosures in their annual financial filings."
It's good that CSR/SRI groups maintain their
pressure on regulatory authorities on this issue, as
regulators are less likely to make such changes
Investor Group Proposes ESG Disclosure Rules,
press release, May 13, 2013, Ceres, USA.
Has Sustainability Become A Risky Business?
"A new report released by Ernst & Young presents a
disconcerting paradox when it comes to corporate
sustainability efforts. While more companies are
concerned about increased risk and proximity of
natural resource shortages, corporate risk response
appears to be inadequate to address the scope and
scale of some of these challenges."
As in most human activities, it's only when a
crises hits that remedial and proactive action to
mitigate future problems are enacted. So, it's not
surprising to find companies poorly prepared to
address future material sustainability issues.
Has sustainability become a risky business? By
John Davies, May 7, 2013, GreenBiz, USA.
Five ESG Standards Will Awaken Capital
"Five concurrent ESG standards initiatives that are
in play in capital markets ... will lead to an ESG
mindset in lenders and investors. Following the
axiom that 'what interests capital markets
fascinates executives,' this will precipitate an ESG
mindset in company executives." Mr. Willard's
blog post from a few days ago is well worth reading
for all investors.
Five ESG Standards Will Awaken Capital Markets,
by Bob Willard, May 7, 2013,
Report: Half of U.S. Fracking Wells Are
Drilled In Highly Water-Stressed Regions.
"A report released last week maps the relationship
between water stress and the unconventional oil and
gas reserves that have pushed the boom, while
outlining actions energy companies can take to
improve resource management. Nearly half of the
wells drilled in the U.S. in recent years, 47
percent, are located in river basins with high or
extremely high risk of water stress, according to
the report from Ceres, a nonprofit that works with
investors, businesses and credit rating agencies to
identify environmental risks in business models."
Will the fracking boom be cut dry due to water
scarcities? It could happen.
Report: Half of U.S. Fracking Wells Are Drilled in
Highly Water-Stressed Regions, by Brett Walton,
May 10, 2013, Circle of Blue, USA.
Investor Attitudes, Investment Screen Use, And
Socially Responsible Investment Behavior.
"We find that four out of five components of the New
Ecological Paradigm (NEP) scale, a measure of basic
environmental attitudes, are associated with
specific attitudes towards environmentally
responsible investment. These specific attitudes in
turn are positively associated with SRI screen use,
and SRI screen use is positively associated with the
percentage of investors’ portfolio held in SRIs.
There is also a significant direct relationship
between specific environmentally responsible
investment attitudes and SRI holdings. Our results
suggest that there are complex, multi-dimensional
relationships between investor attitudes, SRI screen
use, and investment behavior."
Though these are unsurprising findings I
do believe this type of research is useful.
Investor Attitudes, Investment Screen Use, and
Socially Responsible Investment Behavior, by
William N. Dilla and Diane Joyce Janvrin (both of
Iowa State University - Department of Accounting and
Finance), Jon D. Perkins (Iowa State University),
and Robyn Raschke (University of Nevada, Las Vegas),
May 2, 2013, USA.
Phil Angelides Wins Joan Bavaria Award For
Promoting Sustainable Markets.
"Phil Angelides has been awarded the fifth-annual
Joan Bavaria Award for Building Sustainability into
the Capital Markets. The announcement was made
today, the first day of the annual Ceres Conference,
which is running May 1-2 at The Fairmont in San
Francisco, CA." Awards such as these help
spur interest in sustainable and ethical investing.
That's why I like to mention them.
Phil Angelides, a Leader in Shareholder Activism and
Green Investment, Wins the Joan Bavaria Award,
press release, May 3, 2013, Ceres, USA.
Global Women's Equity Fund A First For Canada.
"In a first for the Canadian investment landscape,
the Global Women’s Equity Fund announced today that
it is almost ready to launch.'This fund is great
for society, great for women and a unique concept
that didn’t exist here in Canada' said Chief
Marketing Officer Alexis Klein. The fund will invest
primarily in equity securities of companies that
have demonstrated their support of women’s causes
and are leaders in promoting gender equality in the
workplace." This fund will serve an interesting
niche. It's already known that where women are well
represented on company boards, the boards function
better and the companies have relatively higher
earnings. I wish the find sincere best wishes.
Global Womens Equity Fund a first for Canada, by
Sucheta Rajagopal, May 2, 2013, SRI Monitor, Canada.
Most Firms Don’t Report GHG Emissions, Report
"Only 37 percent of the world’s largest companies
report their greenhouse gas emissions fully and
correctly, according to research from the
Environmental Investment Organisation." Again,
not an unsurprising outcome. It's interesting to see
who does report though.
Most Firms Don’t Report GHG Emissions, Report Says,
press release, May 2, 2013, Environmental Leader,
FTSE Launches New Environmental Index.
"FTSE has unveiled the Environmental Technologies
Index (ET 100), which will assess companies
operating within environmental markets.
The ET 100 is the 21st index in the FTSE
Environmental Markets series and will include firms
involved in environmental technologies such as
renewable energy, water, energy efficiency, waste
management and pollution control." With yet
another new ESG related index, it's obvious that the
creators of these indices see a good market for
them--and therefore, investor interest.
FTSE launches new environmental index, by Ilaria
Bertini, May 2, 2013, Blue & Green Tomorrow, UK.
CSR Just PR Spin - Report.
"According to the 2013 UHNW Investor Changing
Attitudes and Behaviors study, these wealthy
individuals appear to be increasingly unlikely to
become socially responsible and instead invest
primarily for financial gain and not to make the
world a better place, according to new research from
the Spectrem Group."
The results of this survey--when you read them in
the linked article below--aren't unsurprising
really, when you consider how the questions and
responses are framed.
Again, I'm sure that if a question was framed,
such as, "Knowing that companies who are highly
rated on environmental, social and governance (ESG)
factors are more profitable and with relatively
higher stock prices, how likely are you to invest in
them?" The points in this question are factual and
would no doubt elicit a very high 'yes' score. How
questions are framed often determines the answer!
CSR Just PR Spin - Report, May 1, 2013, Pro Bono
India's BSE Launches Broad-Based Islamic
"May 1 (Reuters) - Mumbai's stock exchange (BSE) has
launched an Islamic equity index based on the
wide-measure S&P BSE 500 index, providing a new
benchmark for Islamic investors in one of the
world's largest stock exchanges." This index
could a real winner, especially in India's huge
India's BSE launches broad-based Islamic index,
by Bernardo Vizcaino, May 1, 2013, Reuters, India.
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