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Shareholder Values

"64% of those polled were interested in investing, or
investing more money, in SRI fund options; and 22%
said they were very interested."
    November 2014

"92% of Canadians say that it's important to choose investments that are aligned with their values. By contrast, only 14% of advisors raised the topic of RI [responsible investing] with their clients."
Deb Abbey referring
    to 2014 NEI study
(Canada) April 2015

"70% of people [in UK] want to invest ethically but the financial services industry is failing to respond." Referencing research by Abundance.
(UK) June 2015




Global Ethical Investing News & Commentary



Commentaries by Ron Robins  E-mail us your feedback

Links may only be valid for a limited time   September 4, 2015

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Corporate responsibility efforts boost more than just reputation. "A study by IO Sustainability and Babson College... determined that well-designed CSR programs have the potential to increase a company’s revenues by up to 20 per cent, strengthen customer loyalty by 60 per cent and allow for premium prices to be charged on products and services."

[COMMENTARY] The financial benefits accruing to companies with well-designed CSR programs are now virtually incontestable. We're approaching what could be universal acceptance for CSR/ESG and ethical programs in companies everywhere -- and correspondingly much heightened interest of mainstream investors in investment products geared to taking advantage of this development.
Corporate responsibility efforts boost more than just reputation, by CK staff, August 31, 2015, Corporate Knights, Canada.

Investors target anti-climate lobby. "A coalition of 25 institutional investors with over £40bn in assets under management is calling on nine major companies to review their membership of lobbying groups that seek to undermine EU climate policy. The investors have written to publicly listed BHP Billiton, BP, EDF, Glencore, Johnson Matthey, Proctor and Gamble, Rio Tinto, Statoil and Total."

[COMMENTARY] These companies support financially business groups that lobby for policies that these businesses themselves oppose! Of course, businesses continue memberships in such groups for many reasons, but it is absolutely right for these investors to point out to these businesses the double standard they are playing by belonging to these business groups.
Investors target anti-climate lobby, September 2, 2015, reNEWS, UK.

Doing Good Is Good Business, But Can You Prove It? "The latest evidence that the financial benefits of CSR are causal and not just correlated comes in the form of a study as hefty as a brick. 'Project ROI: Defining the Competitive and Financial Advantages of Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability' is an effort to assess the business case for CR for the benefit of senior executives, boards of directors and even Wall Street.

According to the study, with proper design and sufficient investment, a company’s 'CR Assets' can support returns related to share price and market value; reputation and brand; sales and revenue; human resources; and risk and license to operate."

[COMMENTARY] Surely and gradually the financial case is being made for CSR! Companies who ignore developing good CSR strategies are likely being seen as dinosaurs and whose stock price and reputation taking increasingly bad hits.
Doing Good Is Good Business, But Can You Prove It? By Ryan Scott, August 26, 2015, Forbes, USA.

Companies that Care for Consumers Earn Higher Returns: New Study. "A new study called 'Meaningful Brands,' conducted by global advertising agency Havas, shows that when companies invest the time and effort to connect with consumers, it pays. Such companies typically command increased sales, better brand recognition and higher annual returns than other companies.

The study surveyed 300,000 people in 34 countries and asked them how they felt about 1,000 brands across 12 industries. The findings showed that a meaningful brand has a 46 percent higher share of the consumer’s wallet, which refers to the amount a consumer spends on a particular product. Furthermore, the top 25 more meaningful brand outperformed the stock market by 133 percent."

[COMMENTARY] This study results make sense. It's good to have hard data to prove what we believe to be true.
Companies that Care for Consumers Earn Higher Returns: New Study, by Vikas Vij, August 20, 2015, Justmeans, USA.

Almost Three Quarters of Investment Professionals Use Environmental, Social & Governance Information When Making Investment Decisions. "Almost three-quarters of investment professionals worldwide (73 percent) take environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) issues into consideration in the investment process, according to the CFA Institute ESG Survey, a new survey of CFA Institute members created by CFA Institute and the Investor Responsibility Research Center Institute (IRRC Institute).

In addition, 64 percent of survey respondents consider governance issues, 50 percent consider environmental issues, and 49 percent consider social issues in investment decisions. Only 27 percent do not consider ESG issues."

[COMMENTARY] Wow, these numbers are incredible. I just wonder how the survey questions were framed. At face value, it would seem the work of the responsible-ethical investment community has been accomplished. But is that really the case?
Almost Three Quarters of Investment Professionals Use Environmental, Social & Governance Information When Making Investment Decisions, press release, August 17, 2015, The Investor Responsibility Research Center Institute (IRRC)/CFA Institute, USA.

Witness says brokers try to pass themselves off as fiduciaries. "'Brokerage firms now engage in advertising that is clearly calculated to leave the false impression with investors that stockbrokers take the same fiduciary care as a doctor or a lawyer,' claims the report, which was co-authored by Christine Lazaro, director of the St. John’s School of Law securities arbitration clinic.

'But, while brokerage firms advertise as though they are trusted guardians of their clients’ best interests, they arbitrate any resulting disputes as though they are used car salesmen,' wrote the attorneys.

Their report claimed that Merrill Lynch, Fidelity Investments, Ameriprise, Wells Fargo, Morgan Stanley, Allstate Financial, UBS, Berthel Fisher, and Charles Schwab all advertise 'in a fashion that is designed to lull investors into the belief that they are being offered the services of a fiduciary [when they aren't].'"

[COMMENTARY] This type of misrepresentation is highly problematic in many areas of the financial industry -- and in jurisdictions globally. Clearly, the investing public needs to know who is a salesperson and who is a real fiduciary! At least in the US they're beginning to grapple with this issue. (Thanks to Joe Killoran for alerting me to this article.)
Witness says brokers try to pass themselves off as fiduciaries, by Nick Thornton, August 14, 2015, BenefitsPro, USA.

Morningstar to launch ESG scores for funds. "Chicago-based Morningstar Inc. plans to launch environmental, social, and governance (ESG) scores for mutual funds and exchange-traded funds later this year... Morningstar says that it will use the ESG ratings provided by Sustainalytics on more than 4,500 companies to create asset-weighted composite ESG scores for the mutual funds and ETFs that it covers based on the company-level ESG ratings."

[COMMENTARY] This is terrific news! It will mean greatly increased exposure of ESG-ethical investment products to investors and the investment industry. It could encourage many more advisors to place ESG-ethical funds/ETFs in their client portfolios. Congratulations to Michael Jantzi and Sustainalytics for their part in this endeavour!
Morningstar to launch ESG scores for funds, by James Langton, August 13, 2015, Investment Executive, Canada.

Why Putting a Number to C.E.O. Pay Might Bring Change. "So why does anyone expect a different outcome from the Securities and Exchange Commission’s new rule requiring disclosure of the gap between what a company’s chief executive is paid and what its rank-and-file workers earn?

I put that question to some experts on executive pay...

Their thinking goes like this: Because the rule will generate an easily graspable and often decidedly shocking number, it may energize a cadre of new combatants in the executive pay fight. And because these newcomers — company employees, state governments and possibly even consumers — will most likely be more vocal on the matter than institutional investors have been, the executive pay bubble might actually start to deflate."

[COMMENTARY] This article is well worth reading for all ethical investors who're concerned about excessive executive pay. Though I'm hopeful it could help bring down the pay gap between executives and their employees, I'm concerned that ways will be found to kill its implementation before it starts in 2017.
Why Putting a Number to C.E.O. Pay Might Bring Change, by Gretchen Morgenson, August 6, 2015, The New York Times, USA.

365 Companies and Investors Announce Support for EPA’s Clean Power Plan. "In an unprecedented show of business support for tackling climate change, 365 companies and investors sent letters today to more than two-dozen governors across the United States voicing their support for the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan for existing power plants and encouraging the state’s 'timely finalization' of state implementation plans to meet the new standards... [Signatories include: General Mills, Mars Inc., Nestle, Staples, Unilever and VF Corporation.]"

[COMMENTARY] Actions like these from businesses of all sizes offer hope that Paris COP21 environmental conference might actually produce real carbon reduction agreements. Hitherto, business was acting as a retarding force to such agreements. So these actions really point in a very positive direction.
365 Companies and Investors Announce Support for EPA’s Clean Power Plan, press release, July 31, 2015, Ceres, USA.

SRI Investing Opens For 4.7 Million Government Workers. "For the first time, government workers and military personnel saving for retirement will have the option to invest in sustainable, responsible and impact investment funds, based on a vote this week by the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board. The board serves the government's massive retirement system known as the Thrift Savings Plan or TSP."

[COMMENTARY] It's taken a long time, but finally, the US government is doing the right thing. There might well be an infusion of new funds into ethical investment products, providing further support for the sector.
SRI Investing Opens For 4.7 Million Government Workers, by Maureen Nevin Duffy, July 29, 2015, Financial Advisor, USA.

EIRIS Foundation Launches Database of Companies Doing Business in Occupied Lands. "Building on its 30-year history of providing free and objective information on ethical finance and corporate activity to the public, the EIRIS Foundation announced the release of a new online database of companies in Crimea and Palestine. For the first time, businesses, civil society, media and the investor community will have access to objective and comprehensive information about corporate operations in these two occupied territories."

[COMMENTARY] This database will be welcomed by many -- though controversial as well. South African apartheid was largely abolished through business disinvestment there. However, Crimea and Palestine are very different situations from that of South Africa in the 1980s and 1990s.
EIRIS Foundation Launches Database of Companies Doing Business in Occupied Lands, press release, July 16, 2015, EIRIS, UK.

Sustainability Initiatives Can Drive Corporate Revenue Growth And Innovation, New Research Shows. "Between 2010 and 2013, revenues from company-defined portfolios of sustainable products and services grew by 91 percent among the companies examined in the report. For S&P Global 100 companies that break out revenue for sustainable products or services separately, that revenue stream grew at six times the rate of overall company results."

[COMMENTARY] Clearly, such growth is illustrating consumers' desire for sustainable products and services. One needs look no further than McDonalds with their experimentation to find healthier and more environmentally friendly menu options. We are at the beginning of a new era where sustainability becomes uppermost in everyone's mind and where companies are responding. Over time, this will be especially financially rewarding for ethical investors.
Sustainability Initiatives Can Drive Corporate Revenue Growth And Innovation, New Research Shows, press release, July 1 re July 14 webinar on subject, The Conference Board & The Investor Responsibility Research Center Institute (IRRC), USA.

‘Halo Effect’ of CSR Allows Companies to Get Away with Corruption. "A new study shows that companies with corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs tend to get more favorable court decisions on corruption cases completely unconnected to CSR – and that’s a problem...

Now, a study from Harrison Hong of Princeton University and Inessa Liskovich of the University of Texas found that this type of CSR, aimed at making a company look good, has the beneficial side-effect of making it more likely the company gets away with a crime, specifically, bribery as defined under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act."

[COMMENTARY] The writer of the article describing this study suggests it's ultimately the consumer to decide who's most ethical and thereby buy appropriately. What do you think? Should companies with good CSR receive easier sentences or fines, or, because of their out-front ethical standards be dealt with more harshly! Anyway, for companies that might have some shady things to hide, promoting CSR in their organizations might not only be good PR but ultimately less costly to their operations. Whatever is the case, it does promote CSR!
‘Halo Effect’ of CSR Allows Companies to Get Away with Corruption, by Nithin Coca, July 8, 2015, TriplePundit, USA.

Women Want Social Responsibility from Their Brands. "The demand for corporate social responsibility continues to sweep the brand marketplace. According to new research from Nielsen, corporate social responsibility is important as a benefit to positive branding efforts. We also know for your brand reputation positive press is key. What you may not realize, however, it is also critical to winning the hearts and minds of the coveted group of women consumers."

[COMMENTARY] As per many studies and surveys, women are significantly more interested in CSR and SR-ethical products than men. Thus, they're also more interested in SR-ethical investing.
Women Want Social Responsibility from Their Brands, by Colin Shaw, July 2, 2015, LinkedIn post, USA.

Who are the sustainability leaders? (GlobeScan) "Most would agree that some corporate giants have taken great strides toward sustainability in recent years. But experts in the field still cite too few companies doing so.

Instead, our latest GlobeScan/SustainAbility Leadership survey finds that experts believe that other non-governmental actors have been driving the sustainable development agenda since the United Nations Earth Summit in Rio in 1992. The business sector is not seen as the driver, with few exceptions."

[COMMENTARY] This is a great article that provides much insight into who are the leading companies integrating sustainability into their operations, and what drives them to be a sustainability leader -- all from the perspective of sustainability experts.
Who are the sustainability leaders? By Eric Whan, July 2, 2015, 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 spiritual investing, 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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