E-newsletter of Investing for the Soul  
                             
June 29, 2018

 

Ron Robins, Editor. E-mail /289-271-0873            Latest news at http://investingforthesoul.com/

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Top Ethical Investing News for June 2018

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Divesting sectors. The impact on returns. Evidence that oil divestment may not impact returns. "Grantham and colleagues have looked at the S&P500, over the last 28 years, 60 years, and 90 years; excluding a major sub-component sector each time. Grantham’s overall conclusion it that it didn’t make much difference in return - although some might argue at the max range of 50bps that compounded over 28 years may be significant. Others might suggest that the power of diversifcation and time, also makes this conclusion unsurprising."

[COMMENTARY] This study helps counter the argument that reducing the number of investments inevitably leads to lower returns. Thank you Grantham and colleagues, for shedding some light on what is perhaps the number one argument that ethical investors and advisors hear from 'unbelievers!'
Divesting sectors. The impact on returns. Evidence that oil divestment may not impact returns, June 22, 2018, ThenDoBetter, UK.

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Advisers still think ESG strategies underperform. "A study released Monday by Cerulli Associates found that while more than 50% of advisors have either used an ESG product in the past 12 months or will use an ESG product in the next 12 months, 35% of those who don't use ESG investments cite concerns about lowering client performance. The Cerulli survey also affirms InvestmentNews research showing that just 19% of advisers who use ESG cite performance as a reason for doing so."

[COMMENTARY] Clearly with over 50% advisors using or planning to use ESG investment products, ESG is now mainstream! However, it's also clear that many advisors aren't familiar with the research literature that they can use to inform their clients that suggests ESG based investing can frequently offer better returns.
Advisers still think ESG strategies underperform, by John Waggoner, June 25, 2018, InvestmentNews, USA.

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Investors Are Right To Consider ESG Risks, Says New Report By Corporate Governance Association. "Investors are right to consider environmental, social and governance (ESG) risks because they can impact the worth of intangible assets which make up more than 80 percent of company value, said a new report by the Society for Corporate Governance."

[COMMENTARY] Also, the report cites concerns about the accuracy of many ESG rating agencies' reports and that European asset managers are the primary drivers of ESG factors in investment analysis.
Investors Are Right To Consider ESG Risks, Says New Report By Corporate Governance Association, by Ted Knutson, June 22, 2018, Forbes, USA.

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Another Way ESG Investing Can Boost Portfolios. "Research, appearing in The Atlantic magazine that the average holding time for stocks fell from eight years in 1960 to eight months in 2016 and that 80% of the CFOs say they would sacrifice economic value of their firm to meet quarterly expectations.

The results are high turnover in investments, which involves trading costs that can reduce gains; more share buybacks by corporations instead of investments in capital equipment or employees; and increased risks in those stocks, according to the report [by Merrill Lynch Wealth Management]."

[COMMENTARY] Merrill concludes companies focusing on long-term results will likely outperform those with a short-term focus. And ESG, by it's nature, has a long-term view. Thus, investors with a long-term ESG perspective could have better returns than those having a short-term non-ESG orientation. Hopefully, market participants will begin to understand this message and the mania surrounding quarterly results will ebb!
Another Way ESG Investing Can Boost Portfolios, by Bernice Napach, June 18, 2018, ThinkAdvisor, USA.

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84% of investors apply, or are considering, ESG – Morgan Stanley. "Among the 70% of owners who already are incorporating environmental, social and governance factors into their investment decisions, 60% began doing so in the past four years and 37% within the past two years."

[COMMENTARY] Another survey indicating that ESG analysis is now mainstream. It seems that most investors now realize there can even be some alpha with ESG. I've waited several decades for this era.
84% of investors apply, or are considering, ESG – Morgan Stanley, by Meaghan Kilroy, June 18, 2018, Pensions & Investments, USA.

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Do Investors and Advisors Have a Failure to Communicate? "Interestingly, the top sustainable holdings differ by generation. Younger millennials invest in banking and finance (banks helping communities), housing and water preservation, whereas boomers hold clean technology, health care and pharmaceutical sustainable investments."

[COMMENTARY] This survey for Oppenheimer Funds is important reading for all advisors. It details the investment priorities of investors and what advisors think investors want. There are many misalignments.
Do Investors and Advisors Have a Failure to Communicate? By Ginger Szala, June 15, 2018, ThinkAdvisor, USA.

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FTSE Russell Study Highlights Investment Opportunities in Green Economy. "Over the last five years, green companies generated higher returns than the broader stock market."

[COMMENTARY] The study suggests the growth of the green economy could see green stocks continuing to increase their capitalization faster than the economy as a whole. President Trump should take note.
FTSE Russell Study Highlights Investment Opportunities in Green Economy, by Leila Mead, June 8, 2018, International Institute for Sustainable Development, USA.

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Why a Tobacco Company Made the 2018 100 Best Corporate Citizens List. "We do have a qualitative screen to catch companies that have had reputation concerns or behave as bad actors in the relevant calendar year. This past year we used the UN Global Compact as such a screen. Twelve wonderful companies got red or amber signals, flagging negative issues, and we published that information as well.

But Altria didn’t happen to get a warning flag in 2017—what gives? They weren’t a party to any serious flagged issues in the calendar year of the ranking. If our flag included products that are associated with health concerns, most food, beverage, CPG, entertainment, transportation and product manufacturing companies would be caught." (Underlining added for emphasis).

[COMMENTARY] Most retail investors don't know or understand that almost all ESG-ethical-responsible-sustainable company ratings and rankings don't consider the social, environmental, or health aspects, etc., of a company's products! However, a few indices veer in that direction, usually measuring the percent of company revenues considered 'green' or similar. The FTSE Russell Green Revenues Index Series is one such index.

(Incidentally, investors can learn how to deal with these issues in my DIY Ethical-Sustainable Investing Pays Tutorial.)
Why a Tobacco Company Made the 2018 100 Best Corporate Citizens List, by Jen Boynton, June 13, 2018, TriplePundit, USA.

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The 2018 Best 50 Corporate Citizens in Canada ranking. "Corporate Knights has decided once again, with sponsorship support from the Canadian Industry Partnership for Energy Conservation (CIPEC), to carry forward the annual Best 50 Corporate Citizens in Canada ranking into its 17th year. CIPEC helps organizations increase profits by improving energy efficiency and reducing greenhouse gas emissions."

[COMMENTARY] Always a terrific ranking. It's admirable that Corporate Knights continues, year after year, with this uniquely valuable endeavour for investors.
The 2018 Best 50 Corporate Citizens in Canada ranking, June 7, 2018, Corporate Knights, Canada.

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(1) How Advisors View Socially Responsible Investing & (2) SRI: Where Are the Clients? "A lot of financial advisors say their clients just aren’t interested... That’s partly the conclusion of the 2018 Wealthmanagement.com survey on SRI investing, where lack of client demand, even more so than a perceived negative impact on portfolio returns, was cited as the primary factor keeping advisors from using these types of investment funds.

Dan Goldie, president of the high-net-worth-focused, $875 million AUM Dan Goldie Financial Services in Palo Alto, Cal., [says], “I have a few, maybe 1 percent of my clients, who are interested in investing that way,' he says. 'I think it’s admirable, but I also think it’s ineffective in having an impact on companies. Individual investors are too small to have any influence on what a company does.'”

[COMMENTARY] These two posts on WealthManagement.com and the survey (see slides) cited in them provide good insight into the psychology of most advisors. It seems that very few advisors ask their clients about personal values in relation to investing. Also, though we know that SRI funds can produce highly competitive returns, advisors themselves seem unaware of that. Again, a negative advisor bias and lack of knowledge about SRI (and possibly ESG-ethical investing) demonstrate itself in this survey.
How Advisors View Socially Responsible Investing and SRI: Where Are the Clients? June 8, 2018, WealthManagement.com, USA.

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Green economy now ‘approximately same size as fossil fuel sector.’ "The global green economy now represents a total market share similar to that of the fossil fuel sector. That’s according to FTSE Russell, which says it makes up 6% of global markets and is worth approximately $54 trillion (£40.3tn). The stock indices organisation says the sustainable economy is growing, compared to the shrinking fossil fuel market."

[COMMENTARY] I wonder if President Trump and his administration truly realize how really fast the fossil fuel horse they're backing is aging.
Green economy now ‘approximately same size as fossil fuel sector,’ by Jonny Bairstow, June 4, 2018, Energy Live News, UK.

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Responsible Investment Association Australasia (RIAA) reports big gains in funds interested in ESG. "81% of Australia’s largest super funds are committed to responsible investment (up from 70% in 2016), and 62% report annually on activity, highlighting how deeply responsible investing has become part of Australian investment markets."

[COMMENTARY] The media release linked to below demonstrates that responsible investing is growing fast in Australasia.
Aussie super funds take up the gauntlet to improve company behaviour, media release, May 30, 2018, Responsible Investment Association Australasia (RIAA), Australia.

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Millennials are leading an investment revolution — here's what makes their generation different. "Some 92% of millennials agreed with the statement 'I care more about having a positive impact on society than doing well financially' compared to 52% of nonmillennials."

[COMMENTARY] This survey by Nuveen illustrates the sharp differences between the way millennials and non-millennials think about their lives, work, consumption, and investing. Again, as in so many other surveys, it's noteworthy how millennials are so much more likely to be ESG-based investors.
Millennials are leading an investment revolution — here's what makes their generation different, by Kara Chin, Jacqui Frank and Sara Silverstein, May 29, 2018, Business Insider, USA.

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Featured Book

Go Long: Why Long-Term Thinking Is Your Best Short-Term Strategy, by Dennis Carey, Brian Dumaine, Michael Useem, and Rodney Zemmel, Wharton Digital Press 2018.
"For anyone who is concerned about the importance of forcing longer-term objectives into a public company short-term mindset and who wants to learn more about some of the heroes of this effort, this book is a godsend. Indeed, it should be mandatory reading for the CEOs and boards of all public companies.”—David M. Rubenstein, Co-Founder & Co-Executive Chairman, The Carlyle Group.

Note: Articles are linked to the original source. Some sites might require registration, and may, or may not, archive stories. All links were active at the time of publication.

Disclaimer: Neither The Soul Investor nor Ron Robins makes investment recommendations. Nothing in this newsletter should be interpreted as a recommendation or solicitation to buy/sell any securities or investments. The Soul Investor is a source of general information and resources for spiritual investing, ethical investing, and socially responsible investing (SRI). Investors should consider their actions thoroughly and consult their professional advisers prior to taking any investment action. The Soul Investor does not necessarily agree with the opinions expressed in articles in its newsletter or offered on the web pages to which it might be linked. Such opinions are the responsibility of the writers themselves. Furthermore, The Soul Investor 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 in this e-newsletter, or other sites, to which it might be 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.

The Soul Investor is a publication of Investing for the Soul, a registered business name in Ontario, Canada. Copyright © 2018 Ron Robins. All rights reserved.