Canada's Responsible Investment Week Events,
October 17-21, 2016. Details
here. This is the third year for this great
event and it grows bigger every year!
AMNT: Climate change scores lowest on biggest
risks facing (UK pension) schemes. "Trustees
believe climate change is the lowest risk for their
schemes, according to this year’s Association of
Member Nominated Trustees (AMNT) survey. Only 1% of
respondents said climate change is a threat in
contrast to the 2015 survey where it was ranked as
the second top concern with 16% of MNTs calling it
their biggest worry.
Despite climate change coming bottom this
year, environmental social governance (ESG)
implications was the fifth most important concern
for MNTs, with 9% calling it their top concern.
Importantly, ESG, which is a broad term for many
things including climate change, was not an option
in last year's survey."
survey question changed between 2015 and
2016 to include ESG. This might account for some of
the differences in responses to the climate change
concerns between those years. The number one concern
for the funds was market volatility.
AMNT: Climate change scores lowest on biggest risks
facing (UK pension) schemes, by Michael Klimes,
September 22, 2016, Professional Pensions, UK.
Investors abandon principles as low interest
rates put pressure on returns. "A survey of
more than 100 institutional investors found that
60pc believe that environmental, social and
corporate governance (ESG) risks justify rejecting
an otherwise attractive investment – down from 67pc
a year ago."
responses to such questions should be expected to
change -- up and down -- each year, though trending
higher over the long-term, which has been seen over
the past several years. Even at 60%, this is a
remarkable improvement from responses to similar
surveys some years back.
Investors abandon principles as low interest rates
put pressure on returns, by Tim Wallace,
September 19, 2016, The Telegraph, UK.
Canada’s 3rd annual RI Week: October 17-21,
2016. "Canada’s third annual Responsible
Investment Week will take place from October 17th to
21st, 2016. Responsible Investment Week is a week
dedicated to education and awareness about
responsible investment (RI). The Responsible
Investment Association (RIA) is coordinating a week
of events across Canada to promote learning about
environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG)
issues that affect investments."
to RIA Canada for organizing this important, now
annual event. I urge all ethical investors in Canada
to take part in whatever way possible.
annual RI Week: October 17-21, 2016, press
release, September 14, 2016, Canada.
S&P lays out plans for green bond and ESG
market tools. "Influential ratings agency S&P
Global has launched plans for a new tool to examine
the environmental impact of projects or initiatives
financed by bonds.
Dubbed the Green Bond Evaluation Tool, the market
instrument would identify projects that aim to
reduce greenhouse gas emissions or mitigate the
impact of natural catastrophes."
is a welcome initiative and necessary development.
Only time will tell if they can get it right.
S&P lays out plans for green bond and ESG market
tools, September 13, 2016, Jocelyn Timperley,
New Study Shows Corporate America Continuing
to Invest in Sustainability. "Since its
inception, the study, which was first conducted in
2006, 2009, 2012 and now in 2015, has created a
five-stage sustainability scale ranging from those
companies that do not include sustainability as part
of their mission to those who view sustainability as
a transformative driver for their business.
The findings demonstrate that the percentage
of companies at the high end of the scale has grown
from 15% in 2006 to 41% in 2015. However, there has
also been a slight increase in those at the lower
end of the scale as well, with 21% in 2015 compared
to 17% in 2012."
corporate march towards an orientation to
sustainability continues to grow. Soon, with most of
the world's major stock exchanges demanding more
detailed ESG reporting, the present 41% will rise
significantly over the coming years.
New Study Shows Corporate America Continuing to
Invest in Sustainability, press release,
September 8, 2016, Dodge Data & Analytics/Siemens,
Results Announced for 2016 Dow Jones
Sustainability Indices Review. "The three
largest additions and deletions (by free-float
market capitalization) to the DJSI World this year
include: Additions: Cisco Systems Inc, Royal Dutch
Shell PLC, Adobe Systems Inc.. Deletions: Intel
Corp*, Samsung Electronics Co Ltd, British American
DJSI is a great list of sustainable companies,
focusing on 'best of sector.' However, the results
would be greatly improved if their analysis
incorporated the sustainability of the products and
services with respect to the revenues of the listed
companies. The full 2016 results will be published
September 12 on their
Results Announced for 2016 Dow Jones Sustainability
Indices Review, press release, February 8, 2016,
What Big Data Says About ESG. "ESG
factors can be used to identify signals for higher
return and reduced downside risk, so long as
investors possess the 'necessary sophistication.'"
is fascinating research from a whole new
perspective, that of 'data science.' This is,
"Large scale, deep data, and advanced statistical
analysis — allowing researchers to identify what is
happening in the real world as opposed to what
should happen according to economic theory." The
study's author is
Andreas Hoepner, a data scientist and professor at
UK's Henley Business School professor.
What Big Data Says About ESG, by Amy Whyte,
September 6, 2016, Chief Investment Officer, USA.
PRI launches A practical guide to ESG
integration for equity investing. "To guide
investors - both asset owners and investment
managers - who are implementing ESG integration
techniques in their investment process, this report
is the most comprehensive description to date of
what ESG-integrated analysis is, and how it works in
appears to be an invaluable guide to ESG investing.
By using case studies, it demonstrates real life
practices of ESG integration in investment analysis
utilizing a variety of investment approaches.
PRI launches A practical guide to ESG integration
for equity investing, September 2016, UN's
Principles for Responsible Investing (PRI), UK.
Does ESG Boost Returns? "And though
there is convincing evidence that good performance
on selected industry-specific materiality data leads
to increased returns, translating those
aggregate-level insights into portfolio-appropriate
ideas is not a linear process.
With these issues in mind, it seemed natural to ask
what readers of CFA Institute Financial NewsBrief
thought of how examining these disclosures might
yield better returns."
their survey question, "Do you think analyzing ESG
factors can boost returns?" 37% say they include it
in any complete analysis and only 15% said "no way."
Read the article as the results are interesting.
Does ESG Boost Returns? By Will Ortel, September
1, 2016, Enterprising Investor, CFA Institute, USA.
How ETFs Are Incorporating Sustainability.
"While the two largest diversified sustainable
investment options have been around for a decade,
the diversified set now totals 20 funds, with 17
launched in just the past two years, nine of them so
far in 2016, reflecting growing demand for
sustainable investment products as well as more
general investor interest in passive portfolios."
informative article from Jon Hale at Morningstar. It
will interest most ethical investors.
How ETFs Are Incorporating Sustainability, by
Jon Hale, September 1, 2016, Morningstar, USA.
Climate change is ‘overblown nonsense’ and not
a material risk, says industry representative.
"The latest Pensions Buzz poll - conducted by
Professional Pensions between 22 August and 23
August among 101 trustees, scheme managers and
pension professionals - found more than half (53%)
did not see climate change as a financially material
risk to their own or their clients' portfolios."
fact that in the same survey 36% said that climate
change was a material financial risk and 16% didn't
know if it was one -- are the numbers that
impressed me. Go back a few years and this kind of
survey would've not even been done.
Climate change is ‘overblown nonsense’ and not a
material risk, says industry, by Michael Klimes,
August 24, 2016, Professional Pensions, UK.
Deloitte Says Sustainability Reporting Adds Up
To Real Numbers. "A recent CFA Institute
Survey found that 69% of CFA Institute members
globally believe it is important that ESG
disclosures be subject to independent verification.
Respondents, however, are split on what level of
verification is necessary – 44% prefer a high level
of assurance and 46% support limited verification.
But it is clear that the movement toward
'investor-grade' ESG disclosure is still evolving
with only 63% of the responding Global 250 companies
obtaining some form of assurance on sustainability
is something I've been talking about for decades --
the need for independent verification of ESG
disclosures in corporate reports. I believe they
warrant the same scrutiny as auditors provide for
financial statements. Overall, this article is
useful and informative for all investors.
Deloitte Says Sustainability Reporting Adds Up To
Real Numbers, by Christopher P. Skroupa, August
23, 2016, Forbes, USA.
Demonstrating Ethical Conduct Is A Priority
Throughout Investment Relationship. "The
level of importance of ethical actions is another of
the themes uncovered in the results of the joint CFA
Institute/Edelman survey From Trust to Loyalty: A
Global Survey of What Investors Want. An earlier
blog noted several topline findings of the report,
such as fee transparency and disclosure of conflicts
Although these are clearly elements in
building trust, I wanted to see how retail and
institutional respondents viewed a commitment to
ethical conduct over the lifespan of the advisory
An unwavering commitment to ethical conduct
combined with transparent and consistent
communications will be keys to both building and
maintaining loyal clients."
you read this article and the research it's based
on it's clear that ethical conduct is the first
requirement that investors demand of their advisors.
Demonstrating Ethical Conduct Is A Priority
Throughout Investment Relationship, by Glenn
Doggett, August 23, 2016, Seeking Alpha, USA.
Diversity makes dollars and sense.
"Corporate boards and executive teams that lack
gender and cultural diversity risk missing out on
opportunities to generate long-term value."
Abbey convincingly argues the case for board and
senior management diversity! She provides the
reasoning why diversity is among the primary
investment screens for SR-ethical investors. Thank
you Deb for compiling and writing about the specific
research that demonstrates the benefits of how
diversity in boards and management improves
financial and stockholder returns.
Diversity makes dollars and sense, by Deb Abbey,
August 18, 2016, Investment Executive, Canada.
ESG performing well and in demand, but a
shortage of ETFs is holding back adoption.
"There are not enough SRI/ESG ETFs for all the
different asset classes. It’s all very well having a
global equities SRI ETF but if it’s Emerging Markets
equity exposure you are after that won’t help. In
fixed income it would be good to see more offerings,
such as in High Yield. There are corporate bond SRI/ESG
ETFs but nothing in the lower credit rating/higher
yield spectrum.” -- Camilla Ritchie, UK.
concern in lack of diversity in ESG ETFs is common
globally. Considering the growth of ESG ETFs, no
doubt many ESG providers are planning to fill this
ESG performing well and in demand, but a shortage of
ETFs is holding back adoption, by Rebecca
Hampson, August 19, 2016, ETF Strategy, UK.
The Most Reputable Tech Companies In 2016.
"Another takeaway from this year’s results is the
importance of social responsibility to millennials —
the 18- to 34-year-olds who are becoming the largest
consumer base in the U.S. In fact, the most
reputable tech companies are faring especially well
with that age group. And to have a positive
reputation among millennials, a company has to learn
how to attach the critical issues that these young
people care about to the company’s vision or
Wang's article provides a good overview of the
results of this fascinating index. It's
extraordinary that Google is eighth while Amazon,
Samsung and Intel are the top three on the list.
The Most Reputable Tech Companies In 2016, by
Monica Wang, August 18, 2016, Forbes, USA.
You Don't Have to Sacrifice Returns for
Sustainability. "The performance of socially
responsible funds has been in line with conventional
funds' over time, writes Morningstar's Jon Hale."
Morningstar owns database Jon Hale concludes that
ESG oriented funds have performed similarly over the
long haul to regular funds. This eliminates the
argument that by limiting the universe of stocks
that an ESG fund will do less well than the
general fund universe.
You Don't Have to Sacrifice Returns for
Sustainability, by Jon Hale, August 18, 2016,
The Carbon Clean 200. "The Clean200 is
intended as the clean energy inverse of the Carbon
Underground 200TM. Where the Carbon Underground
200TM (which evolved from the seminal Carbon Tracker
Initiative report, Unburnable Carbon: Are the
World’s Financial Markets Carrying a Carbon
Bubble?), ranks the largest publicly listed
companies by the carbon intensity of their coal,
oil, and gas reserves...
The Clean200 ranks the largest publicly listed
companies by their total clean energy revenues, with
a few additional screens to help ensure the
companies are indeed building the infrastructure and
services needed for what Lester Brown and many
others have called 'The Great Energy Transition' in
a just and equitable way."
to Corporate Knights and As You Sow for creating
new useful innovative index! The link below provides
not only a link to the index but to a great article
describing it too.
The Carbon Clean 200, by Andy Behar, Michael Yow
and Toby A.A. Heaps, August 15, 2016, Corporate
LEED for vertical farms? Defining high-tech
sustainable food. "Amid a wave of in-field
technology, food data analytics and experimental
urban agriculture, the particularly futuristic field
of vertical farming is attracting entrants including
industrial incumbents such as Fujitsu and upstarts
such as AeroFarms, City Farm and Green Sense."
the amount of farmland shrinking and depletion and
erosion of good soil, vertical farming might grow
into a huge business. Such farming could be located
in urban areas, reducing the need for food
transportation over large distances thereby reducing
costs while likely improving quality. Definitely an
industry to watch for ethical-SR investors.
LEED for vertical farms? Defining high-tech
sustainable food, by Lauren Hepler, August 15,
2016, GreenBiz, USA.
SEC Urged to Strengthen ESG Reporting
Requirements. "Ceres organizes an investor
coalition calling for regulations to strengthen
corporate climate reporting, while US SIF and ICCR
issue a joint press release urging mandatory
important that ethical-SRI oriented organizations
pressure the SEC to adopt more meaningful ESG
disclosure since the SEC is getting huge pressure
against expansion of ESG reporting from such
entities as the US Chamber of Commerce!
SEC Urged to Strengthen ESG Reporting Requirements,
by Robert Kropp, August 12, 2016, Social Funds, USA.
ESG is part of fiduciary duty, says new code
of practice from UK Pensions Regulator – Responsible
Investor. "'Trustees of UK pension funds
should consider environmental, social and governance
(ESG) factors when making investment decisions,
where such factors are 'financially significant',
according to a new code of practice published by The
Pensions Regulator, which sets out standards for
trustee boards of defined-contribution (DC) scheme."
is a huge development. Fund fiduciaries around the
world will take notice of this.
As a result
we'll likely see similar regulatory moves in
numerous countries. It's about time this happened.
The stocks of companies excelling in ESG will
continue to benefit from such moves.
ESG is part of fiduciary duty, says new code of
practice from UK Pensions Regulator – Responsible
Investor, by Laurie Havelock, August 2, 2016,
America's 50 Most Trustworthy Financial
Companies. "To develop this list for Forbes,
MSCI MSCI +% ESG Research reviews the accounting and
governance behaviors of nearly 700 publicly-traded
North American financial companies with market caps
of $250 million or greater, for the year ending
December 2015. In assessing each company, factors
including high-risk events, revenue and expense
recognition methods, SEC actions, and bankruptcy
risk are all considered as indicators of a company’s
credibility. Companies on this list also scored
above a 5 out of 10 against criteria established by
MSCI ESG to track governance considerations."
of America's largest financial institutions don't
make the list. That's not surprising considering how
much most of them have had to pay in fines for
unethical financial practices. This is a good list
for ethical investors to review who want to invest
in financial companies.
America's 50 Most Trustworthy Financial Companies,
by Kathryn Dill, August 2, 2016, Forbes, USA.
In Pleas to SEC, Businesses Slam
Sustainability Disclosures. "In a letter sent
to the agency on July 20, the U.S. Chamber of
Commerce's Center for Capital Markets
Competitiveness harshly criticized the push for ESG
disclosures, arguing that requiring more of this
information from companies would exceed the
materiality standards for disclosure set by federal
'The objective of many calling for new public
company ESG disclosures is primarily to obtain some
social impact or achieve a political goal,' the
chamber wrote. 'These goals, if met, would in many
cases contribute to an environment that makes it
more difficult for businesses to innovate, compete
The former [U.S.] Treasury chiefs said that
climate change is a material risk under the
Securities and Exchange Act, but that most companies
disclose information about this risk 'poorly, if at
[COMMENTARY] Companies need to be truthful about climate and
environmental risks to their businesses and show how
they're mitigating them if they are to earn the
trust of investors. Otherwise, it'll likely backfire
on them as investor interest in their stocks
declines together with their stock prices.
In Pleas to SEC, Businesses Slam Sustainability
Disclosures, by Rebekah Mintzer, July 25, 2016,
Corporate Counsel, USA.
Alternatives managers split on the benefits of
ESG, finds Unigestion. "The survey suggests
ESG is growing in importance for hedge funds with 53
per cent of managers saying they currently have ‘no
interest’ compared with 60 per cent who 12 months
ago said they were ‘reluctant’ to consider ESG as
part of their strategies. In addition, some 30 per
cent of hedge fund managers surveyed are now
actively incorporating ESG into their strategies."
is more evidence of the mainstreaming of ESG in the
Alternatives managers split on the benefits of ESG,
finds Unigestion, July 25, 2016, Hedgeweek, USA.
Japan pension fund to try socially responsible
stock picking. "Japan's Government Pension
Investment Fund will make room in its huge portfolio
for domestic companies picked for their
environmental, social and governance merits, a move
that could lend momentum here to this kind of
investing... The GPIF ranks as one of the biggest
investors in Japanese equities, with a portfolio
worth around 30 trillion yen [appr. US$283
great news for ethical investors with continuing
large funds entering the ESG investment space.
Japan pension fund to try socially responsible stock
picking, July 22, 2016, Nikkei Asian Review,
2016 Sustainable Stock Exchange report
released. "Euronext Amsterdam tops ranking of
45 global exchanges measured on overall
Disclosure: Ranking the World’s Stock Exchanges
2016, finds that of 4469 large companies analysed,
only 47 per cent disclosed GHGs, arguably the most
closely tracked sustainability indicator.
Furthermore, over the 2010-2014 period, the number
of large companies that disclosed GHGs nudged up
just 12 points from 33 per cent to 47 per cent
despite a number of high-profile policy initiatives
aimed at sustainability disclosure in the last few
to Aviva Plc and Corporate Knights for producing
this report. It's needed to determine the
extent of corporate sustainability reporting
by the world's stock exchanges and to see
who among them stands out.
2016 Sustainable Stock Exchange report released,
July 19, 2016,
Aviva Plc and Corporate Knights, UK/Canada.
Foundations Slowly Come Around to Responsible
Investing. "A new study released jointly by
the Council on Foundations and Commonfund Institute
found that a third of U.S. private, public and
community foundations have implemented or are
actively considering mission-related investing
practices in managing their endowed assets...
However, impediments to adoption remain. Concern
over returns was the single most commonly reported
barrier, with 23% of foundations considering it a
significant one and 48% a moderate one."
seems many foundations are still under the
impression that they might have to sacrifice returns
for mission-related investments. It's clear they
need to familiarize themselves with what current
research says: that returns from responsible
investment portfolios are comparable to or often
better than more 'conventional' ones.
Foundations Slowly Come Around to Responsible
Investing, by Michael S. Fischer, July 18, 2016,
ESG Ratings: Four Myths And A Truth.
"Recent criticisms of ESG ratings reflect an
outdated and inaccurate notion of the ingredients
and value of an ESG rating... Today, applying
analytical tools and modeling techniques to wider
datasets beyond corporate disclosure has
significantly improved the rigour, consistency, and
relevance of ESG information to the investment
Linda-Eling Lee has written a good article on the
state of ESG rating systems today. Recommended
reading for all investors.
ESG Ratings: Four Myths And A Truth, by
Linda-Eling Lee, July 13, 2016, Benefits and
Pensions Monitor, Canada.
The Fastest-Growing Cause for Shareholders Is
Sustainability. "In fact, the largest number
of shareholder resolutions filed by investors — the
method through which activists work — now concern
social and environmental issues. This is a recent
phenomenon, according to my research; the number of
these resolutions has increased dramatically over
the past five years. Political spending, climate
change, diversity, and human rights are now some of
the most frequent resolutions that investors file."
Serafeim (of Harvard) has written an insightful
article about ESG shareholder resolutions. Worth
reading by all ethical investors.
The Fastest-Growing Cause for Shareholders Is
George Serafeim, Jakurski Family Associate Professor
of Business Administration at Harvard Business, July
12, 2016, Harvard Business Review, USA.
Does SRI Deliver? "According to a
WealthManagement.com survey of 780 advisors across
all business channels, while only 35 percent of
advisors said they were 'very familiar' with SRI
funds, 66 percent said they have offered one to
clients, mostly due to client requests. Nearly six
in 10 advisors expect it to become a bigger part of
their practice in the next five years."
most advisors are getting the message that they need
to be much more understanding of their clients'
personal values and utilize that knowledge in
assisting them in selecting appropriate SR-ethical
securities and funds. Another important article for
advisors to read.
Does SRI Deliver? By Diana Britton, July 5,
2016, WealthManagement Magazine, USA.
Unintended Biases in ESG Index Funds. "ESG
index strategies can be effective tools for
values-based investing, but they may introduce some
additional bets that investors may not intend to
have written a great article examining the biases in the holdings
of various ESG index funds. (Incidentally, the same
issues are present in ESG ETF funds too.) Investors
holding these funds should definitely read this
Unintended Biases in ESG Index Funds, by Alex
Bryan, July 6, 2016, Morningstar, USA.
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