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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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"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
September 2013

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Commentaries by Ron Robins

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How to read a sustainability report. "Here, then, are five tips to help you make sense of the next report that lands on your desk or arrives via email. They were developed with help from Steve Lydenberg of Domini Social Investments -- the principal author of 'How to Read a Corporate Social Responsibility Report' [PDF], an excellent 2010 study from the Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship -- and Bill Baue, a consultant and leader of the Sustainability Context Group, an organization working to improve corporate reporting."

[COMMENTARY] There's great advice in this article on how to understand CSR reports by some top SRI specialists. The article is especially useful for those just recently interested in ethical investing. Incidentally, if you or others you know would like direction how to select such investments--and need help with that--please see services we offer.
How to read a sustainability report, by Marc Gunther, September 30, 2013, GreenBiz.com, USA.

Why sustainability indexes miss the mark. "The GC [UN Global Compact] 100 includes companies long appreciated by sustainable shareholders, such as Ericsson, Hewlett Packard, Johnson Controls, Novo Nordisk and Electrolux. But there are some surprises, such as companies in sectors that include oil -- even tar sands -- natural gas, mining, petrochemicals, automotive and airline sectors, as well as companies with significant military contracts, such as General Electric."

[COMMENTARY] It's true that the stocks in many sustainability indices are highly questionable for many ethical investors. That's why purchasing an SRI index fund, ETF, or even regular SRI funds, might not make sense for numerous ethical investors. For those individuals, they're better off creating their own ethical investment portfolio that mirrors their personal values.

Not wanting to plug our services too much, but again, if you or others you know would like tutoring in this area, please see the services we offer. (There's help for investment professionals too--especially if they can't afford the time to do SRI research themselves or create SRI portfolios.)
Why sustainability indexes miss the mark, by Michael Kramer, September 24, 2013, GreenBiz.com, USA.

Interbrand releases 14th annual best global brands report. "With Apple claiming the top position this year, Google jumps to #2 and Coca-Cola, the brand that held the #1 position for 13 consecutive years, moves to #3. This year, the total value of all 100 Best Global Brands is USD $1.5 trillion -- an 8.4 percent record increase over the total value of the 100 Best Global Brands in 2012."

[COMMENTARY] Remember, sustainability is not what is rated here. What is rated is the brand that's considered the 'highest' regarded global brand. Interbrand's top 100 brands' list is nonetheless worth reviewing for ethical investors.
Interbrand releases 14th annual best global brands report, press release, September 30, 2013, Interbrand, USA.

Lehman anniversary: banking sustainability grows, but not enough. - [COMMENTARY] "In spite of the improvement, however, the banking sector still ranks below controversial sectors such as pharmaceuticals or oil and gas – and below the average 3.3 score across all sectors. In other words, progress is being made, but it remains slow." This article in the UK's The Guardian newspaper and written by EIRIS's CEO, further illustrates the continuing poor level of ethics in much of the global banking industry.

I continue to believe that really major financial troubles are brewing in many developed countries' banks and financial institutions.

Many banks, etc., are allowed by worried unethical regulators to hide losses in their assets (real estate, bonds, etc.) and to totally minimize the risks of their massive highly unstable off balance sheet derivative positions! Provisions for derivative losses hardly exist and tiny losses could sink any large bank.

I know EIRIS to be a wonderful analytical firm, particularly with ESG matters. However, I don't know how far they go in investigating and analysing the problems I just outlined. For me, they're terrifically important ethical and governance issues.
Lehman anniversary: banking sustainability grows, but not enough, by Peter Webster, September 25, 2013, The Guardian, UK.

Sustainable Insight Capital Management Launches Joint Study With The Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP). - [COMMENTARY] "According to SICM CEO Kevin Parker, 'Our analysis demonstrates that industry leaders are not only taking critical steps to establish the requisite governance, management systems, and environmental efficiencies to engage on climate, but that they have also demonstrated superior profitability, more stable cash flows and higher dividend growth for investors.'"

This is a powerful study that says companies should integrate sustainability into their operations and benefit from higher financial and stock performance. I hope that academic institutions are able to perform such research too--or even to audit these findings so that they're believable to companies everywhere.
Sustainable Insight Capital Management Launches With Joint Study With The Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), press release, September 24, 2013, Sustainable Insight Capital Management, USA.

Number of 'climate leaders' doubles in new CDP report. - [COMMENTARY] "Companies that have made the environment and sustainability central to their businesses strategies are seeing higher profits while also better positioning themselves for an uncertain future, says the CDP S&P 500 Climate Change Report, the latest update on greenhouse gas emissions and climate strategies from the biggest corporations in the U.S. The report is based on responses from 334 companies on the Standard & Poor's 500." The growth in interest by companies concerning sustainability is mounting--and with good reason: it's profitable!
Number of 'climate leaders' doubles in new CDP report, by Jonathan Bardelline, September 23, 2013, GreenBiz.com, USA.

Indian index to measure corporate social responsibility. - [COMMENTARY] "The Indian Institute of Corporate Affairs (IICA) and the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) Monday signed a pact to develop India's first corporate social responsibility (CSR) index. The IICA-BSE CSR Index will assess the impact and performance of companies listed at BSE in CSR activities. The index would also look at the performance of companies in their mandatory CSR spend as per the new Companies Act, 2013 as one of the important and objective criteria. The index would be sector neutral."

Here we see another good step being taken by Indian business. The development of this index should spur greater investment in Indian business by ethical investors everywhere.
An index to measure corporate social responsibility, September 23, 2013, Business Standard, India.

Solar Power & Wind Power Now Cheaper Than Coal Power In US. - [COMMENTARY] "It’s less costly to get electricity from wind turbines and solar panels than coal-fired power plants when climate change costs and other health impacts are factored in, according to a new study published in the Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences."

This is unsurprising news to me, though it's good that the numbers to support it are finally coming out. The big question is how to get those authorities and investors backing energy projects to include 'full cost' accounting--which would include climate and health impacts--into their project assessments!
Solar Power & Wind Power Now Cheaper Than Coal Power In US, September 20, 2013, Clean Technica, USA.

UK's Operation Noah launches Bright Now and calls on churches to divest from fossil fuels. - [COMMENTARY] "More than nine out of 10 [UK] church goers of all denominations say churches should invest their money ethically but a significant proportion remain confused about what this means in relation to disinvestment." This is obvious good news from an ethical investor's viewpoint, though the question could perhaps have been better phrased. For instance, answering no to it implies the survey respondent favouring their church invests in 'unethical' investments!
Operation Noah launches Bright Now and calls on churches to divest from fossil fuels, press release, September 20, 2013, Operation Noah, UK.

Do sustainable companies offer sustainable pensions? - [COMMENTARY] "We often think of European companies leading the way on good environmental practices. But a recent report by Independent Capital Management AG, took a closer look at the pension funds of a number of Swiss companies, all of which are listed on the global Dow Jones Sustainability Index. Not one fund it looked at adopted the same stringent investment policies as its sponsoring company."

Is this a lapse of management oversight or only a weak commitment to sustainability that sustainable companies don't have sustainable pensions? Employees and stockholders in all so-called sustainable companies have to put this question to the management of these companies.
Do sustainable companies offer sustainable pensions? By Emma Simon, September 19, 2013, The Guardian, UK.

Pensions funds urged not to put money into socially responsible investments. - [COMMENTARY] "One of the City's best known figures on Wednesday urged those handling pension funds not to put money into socially responsible investments. Terry Smith, a former top broker and now chief executive of his own Fundsmith asset management business, said ethical funds performed badly and were riddled with internal contradictions." I'm always amazed how purported top fund managers (and others) state opinions about SR/ethical investing without ever really investigating it.
Pensions funds urged not to put money into socially responsible investments, by Terry Macalister, September 18, 2013, The Guardian, UK.

Volkswagen, Panasonic stand out on Dow Jones Sustainability Index. - [COMMENTARY] "Each year, research firm RobecoSAM asks 2500 of the world's largest public companies to report on their sustainability performance, covering governance, social and environmental criteria. (In a recent GreenBiz Intelligence Panel survey, 45 percent of respondents named DJSI as a top sustainability framework in terms of credibility and importance.)" Interestingly, among the companies delisted from the DJSI are Johnson & Johnson, HSBC and Bayer. The first two had been SRI favourites for many, many, years.
Volkswagen, Panasonic stand out on Dow Jones Sustainability Index, by Sustainable Business News, September 13, 2013, GreenBiz.com, USA.

PRI study: ESG factors influence countries’ economic development and sovereign debt. - [COMMENTARY] "Environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors are 'material' in the $47 trillion sovereign debt market, according to a new study by the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI)." This is fascinating and important news. ESG factors will be increasingly used in assessing sovereign bond risk!
PRI study: ESG factors influence countries’ economic development and sovereign debt, by Alex Blackburne, September 13, 2013, Blue & Green Tomorrow, UK.

Nearly half of Britons would buy more from a store that supports charity. - [COMMENTARY] "Eight in ten (79 per cent) Brits believe that retailers should be doing more to support UK charities, new research shows. The findings, from social enterprise Give as you Live, show that UK consumers increasingly perceive retailers as lacking in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) credentials and are urging them to do more to help UK charities." The survey results could promote more retailers taking CSR more seriously. And that is good.
Nearly half of Britons would buy more from a store that supports charity, by Michael Somerville, September 13, 2013, Retail Gazette, UK.

Green investments performing strongly for big business. - [COMMENTARY] "79 per cent of US companies reported higher returns on their emission reduction investments than those from the average business investment, according to the CDP Global 500 Climate Change Report 2013, co-authored by CDP and PwC. It also found that carbon emissions from the 50 biggest emitting companies have risen by 1.65 per cent to 2.54 billion tonnes over the past four years." So there is good and bad in this report. At least with the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), we're starting to get more reliable data on corporate carbon emissions.
Green investments performing strongly, by Sam Fenwick, September 12, 2013, E2B, UK.

Achieving a new global corporate consciousness. - [COMMENTARY] "With significant reductions in poverty, progress in key health indicators and greater economic opportunity, an increasingly well-integrated, technologically empowering, private-sector driven international economy is turning into the most transformational force since the Industrial Revolution." George Kell makes a great case as to how businesses--through largely integrating ESG factors in their activities--are helping to create a more sustainable world. My question is though, is it fast enough?
Achieving a new global corporate consciousness, by George Kell, Executive Director, UN Global Compact, USA.

Gender Divide A Growing Issue For Advisors (Women More Interested in SR/Ethical Investing). - [COMMENTARY] " A recent U.S. Trust survey of high net worth investors asked how important social, political or environmental impacts were in evaluating investments. Such impacts were considered 'somewhat' or 'extremely' important by 65 percent of women but only 42 percent of men." Financial advisors especially, should read this article.
Gender Divide A Growing Issue For Advisors, by Joseph F. Keefe, September 4, 2013, FA Magazine, USA.

Why Advisors Should Consider Impact Investing. Here, the term impact investing appears synonymous with socially responsible/ethical investing. It's another great article by FA Magazine for all advisors.
Why Advisors Should Consider Impact Investing, by FA staff, September 4, 2013, FA Magazine, 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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