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Shareholder Values

"Forty-five percent of U.S. households prefer an environmental, social and governance (ESG) approach to investing… Among those between the ages of 30 and 39, this increases to 64%, and for those younger than 30, it is 67%."
-- Cerulli Associates
    October 2018

"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."
-- Responsible
    Association (RIA)
    June 2017

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


Ethical Investing News/Commentaries
December 2015


Commentaries by Ron Robins

If a link does not work, please e-mail us. Link may only be valid a limited time.

Investment Managers Raising ESG Offerings To Meet Demand, Study Says. "Over 75 percent of investment managers are increasing their use of environmental, social and governance products and impact investing to meet customer demand, according to a survey released this week by Tiburon Strategic Advisors."

[COMMENTARY] The 75% figure is the highest I’ve seen among such surveys. Seeing that it was reported by a reputable advisors magazine, it has some credibility.
Investment Managers Raising ESG Offerings To Meet Demand, Study Says, by Ted Knutson, December 31, 2015, Financial Advisor, USA.

50 Best (US) Workplaces for Diversity. "Fortune and Great Place to Work partnered with Essence and People en EspaƱol to survey companies that make inclusiveness a top priority. Rankings were determined by employee feedback and the representation of racial and ethnic minorities and women."

[COMMENTARY] Among public companies, the top three are: Camden Property Trust (which was ranked #1 over all); Ultimate Software (#4); and Workday (#6). This is a must see list for those ethical investors who rate diversity highly when selecting investments.
50 Best (US) Workplaces for Diversity, Forbes, December 2015, USA.

Climate Bonds releases new Standard V2.0 - post COP21 global guidance for green bond market participants. "Climate Bonds Initiative has released the Climate Bonds Standard V2.0, the next iteration of an overarching multi-sector standard that allows investors and intermediaries to easily assess the environmental integrity of bonds claiming to be green and funding the low carbon and climate resilient future.

Standard V2.0 has been built on consultation with market actors, incorporates the latest amended Green Bond Principles and is a key part of Climate Bonds′ work to mobilise debt capital markets and develop sound and sustainable international green bond frameworks

[COMMENTARY] As the market for green bonds escalates, it’s imperative that some standards be incorporated in their structure, issue and marketing. I greatly welcome the Climate bonds initiative in this direction.
Climate Bonds releases new Standard V2.0 - post COP21 global guidance for green bond market participants, by Sean Kidney, December 22, 2015, Climate Bonds Initiative, UK.

Largest-ever analysis of ESG investment studies sees ‘well-founded′ relation to profit. "The analysis of more than 2,200 academic studies and more than 60 review studies published since the early 1970s concludes that investment based on ESG criteria has a positive effect on corporate financial performance (CPF) that is ‘stable over time′.

The authors, including Timo Busch of the University of Hamburg, Alexander Bassen of the University of Reading and Gunnar Friede of Deutsche Asset and Wealth Management, say that 90 percent of the studies they reviewed showed a non-negative relationship between ESG investment and corporate financial performance. They also say the ‘large majority′ report positive findings."

[COMMENTARY] This is a phenomenal study and should put-to-rest any argument about ESG being unimportant to corporate profits. It might well win next year’s Moskowitz SRI Prize! (Download study ESG & Corporate Financial Performance, PDF.)
Largest-ever analysis of ESG investment studies sees ‘well-founded′ relation to profit, by Adam Brown, December 24, 2015, IR Magazine, UK/USA.

Pension funds agree ESG is vital to investment returns. "The vast majority of pension funds (93%) say that environmental and social governance (ESG) issues are linked to investment returns, a significant increase since 2013, when only 81% viewed the link.

The Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association has released its annual survey which also found that there is near universal agreement that pension funds have stewardship responsibilities (98%)."

[COMMENTARY] Again, more evidence of the rise of ESG in the investment community. The massive belief of the surveyed fund managers that they have stewardship responsibilities for their investments is also highly encouraging to the hearts of ethical investors.
Pension funds agree ESG is vital to investment returns, December 21, 2015, Funds Europe, UK.

IBE Survey Highlights Key Public Concerns in Business Ethics. "The Institute of Business Ethics (IBE) recently released the findings of its latest survey on the British public′s opinion about business behavior. The survey revealed that the people′s general opinion about ethical business conduct has not shown any improvement over the last three years, with nearly 40 percent of the respondents still saying they believe British business behaves unethically."

[COMMENTARY] Possibly the percentage of people behaving unethically -- in some manor -- is probably similar to the 40% of UK public thinking that business behave unethically. After all, since businesses employ the majority of adults, they must largely reflect the ethics of those it employs.
IBE Survey Highlights Key Public Concerns in Business Ethics, by Vikas Vij, December 11, 2015, Justmeans, USA.

Special note: Due to personal affairs there were no postings in mid December.

So, what do you think of these seemingly two contradictory studies! (Are they looking at the same parameters CSR versus ESG?)

1) How Ethical Compliance Affects Portfolio Performance And Flows: Evidence From Mutual Funds. "Using an asset-weighted composite CSR fund score based on firm-level ratings, we find that funds with high CSR scores display poor performance and strong performance reversal. Furthermore, high-CSR funds exhibit weaker performance-flow relationships and slightly stronger flow persistence."

[COMMENTARY] Well, funds with "high CSR scores display poor performance." Now go to 2).
How Ethical Compliance Affects Portfolio Performance And Flows: Evidence From Mutual Funds, Sadok El Ghoul, University of Alberta and Aymen Karoui, University of Quebec at Montreal (UQAM), December 4, 2015, Canada.

2) Responsible Investing Is Hot: ESG AUM Hits $21 Trillion. "According to HSBC, companies with significantly improving ESG indicators outperformed those who lagged by 26pp since 2008. So, by investing responsibly, you could also improve your returns."

[COMMENTARY] Furthermore, "HSBC′s analysis is in line with the broader academic literature, where 80% of studies have shown that prudent corporate sustainability programs tend to boost company performance."
Responsible Investing Is Hot: ESG AUM Hits $21 Trillion, by Rupert Hargreaves, December 10, 2015, Valuewalk, USA.

Two-thirds of (UK) investors don′t know if they are investing ethically.  "Sixty-three per cent of investors surveyed by Triodos Bank said they did not know whether or not the activities of the companies they are investing in are ethical.

Only a quarter (25%) said they were actively aware of how ethical their investees are. Investments made through pension funds, stocks and shares ISAs, for example, can lead consumers to inadvertently finance activities they ethically or morally object to."

[COMMENTARY] This survey could’ve been even more illuminating if they had asked if the investors who didn’t know if they were investing ethically, plan to actually investigate the ethical character of their investments. At least some responders to the questionnaire might to do that.
Two-thirds of investors don′t know if they are investing ethically, by Daniel Hunter, December 11, 2015, freshbusinessthinking.com, UK.

Northern Trust Survey: Majority of Institutional Investors Expect to Introduce Climate Risk Profiling Within Two Years. "Eighty percent of institutional investors surveyed at a recent event hosted by Northern Trust (Nasdaq: NTRS) in Stockholm expect their firm to introduce climate risk profiling within the next two years.

“The Nordic region has for many years had a strong emphasis on sustainable business, with many institutional investors demonstrating strong leadership addressing climate change risks.” More than 30 Nordic institutional investors were surveyed including some of the largest and most sophisticated asset owners in the world about their perspectives on sustainable investing and maintaining investment oversight."

[COMMENTARY] Scandinavia has a history of leading in CSR/ESG issues, so it’s unsurprising that the survey got such good results. However, there’s no doubt that ESG/climate change corporate initiatives are gaining ground. The COP21 Paris climate change talks are also infusing a new thrust for sustainability in corporations globally. The future is bright for ESG!
Northern Trust Survey: Majority of Institutional Investors Expect to Introduce Climate Risk Profiling Within Two Years, press release, December 8, 2015, Northern Trust, UK/Sweden.

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