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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
April 2016


Commentaries by Ron Robins

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2016 Country Sustainability Ranking by RobecoSAM and Robeco. "The country sustainability score is based on 17 environmental, social and governance indicators, which receive a weight of 15%, 25% and 60% of the total score, respectively. The score ranges from 1 to 10 and should be interpreted as a grade, with the highest grade being 10 and the lowest 1. The purpose of the score is to compare countries on the basis of ESG indicators that we consider to be relevant for investors."

[COMMENTARY] The top three countries are who you might expect -- Sweden, Switzerland and Norway. Amazingly, the UK is rated fourth! The ratings and detailed country ESG analysis are useful for ethical investors when assessing sovereign bonds, particularly, from rated countries.
Country Sustainability Ranking, April 2016, by RobecoSAM and Robeco, Switzerland.

Managers score weak on ESG despite more signing up to PRI. "Half of managers that are signatories to the United Nations backed Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) in reality have a weak responsible investment rating, according to research."

[COMMENTARY] The inference from the research is that many PRI signatories signed-up for public relations reasons and not for the genuine implementation of the six PRI ESG principles. However, I believe that the PRI is planning significant steps to encourage its members to be more aggressive with their ESG commitments. This must be done if the PRI are to be respected. They should even throw-out those signatories that are not serious about their implementation.
Managers score weak on ESG despite more signing up to PRI, by Kristian Brunt-Seymour, April 29, 2016, Professional Pensions, UK.

G&A Institute and Bloomberg LP Partner to Examine Bloomberg ESG Disclosure Scores For S&P 500 Companies Reporting VS Not Reporting on Sustainability. "Results Show Companies Not Publishing Sustainability Reports Are Disadvantaged by Lower Average Bloomberg ESG Disclosure Scores."

[COMMENTARY] Those companies not reporting on their environmental and social activities are most penalized. Non-reporting companies must realize that not improving internally on ESG matters and not reporting their performance on those metrics will be increasingly penalized -- from relatively poor stock performance to credit costs.
G&A Institute and Bloomberg LP Partner to Examine Bloomberg ESG Disclosure Scores For S&P 500 Companies Reporting VS Not Reporting on Sustainability, press release, April 26, 2016, Bloomberg LP/Governance & Accountability Institute, Inc., USA.

66% of Quebecers would allocate a portion of investments to responsible investing. "While only 46% of Quebecers have heard of responsible investing (RI), 66% said they′d be willing to allocate a portion of their investments to it when told about this option. Responsible investing may have topped the $2 billion mark at Desjardins, but Quebecers′ interest in RI suggests this kind of investing could grow by leaps and bounds in the coming years."

[COMMENTARY] Quebec is a trendsetter in many areas of social development. It could also lead Canadian investors in their adoption of SR-ethical investing!
66% of Quebecers would allocate a portion of investments to responsible investing, press release, April 22, 2016, Desjardins Group, Canada.

Bangladesh Apparel Workers Still at Risk, Investors Say. "... known as the Bangladesh Investor Initiative [representing] 139 institutional investors from North America and Europe with collective assets valued at over U.S. $3 trillion... the group expresses concern over the pace of progress being made to remediate the issues identified by inspections conducted by both the Accord on Fire and Building Safety and the Alliance for Worker Safety."

[COMMENTARY] It’s tragic that the affected workers haven’t yet received compensation, nor that the necessary safety regulations are properly in place to prevent similar fires, etc. Hopefully, the call by the signatory investors in the above group will spur some faster action to resolve the outstanding issues.
Bangladesh Apparel Workers Still at Risk, Investors Say, press release, April 21, 2016, Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR), USA.

Earth Day Update: Socially Responsible Investing Coming of Age. "Nearly four-in-ten (38 percent) of households with a net worth between $100,000 and $1 million (not including primary residence) consider social responsibility when selecting an investment. This is up from 36 percent last year. Roughly one-third of Millionaire investors with a net worth up to $5 million consider social responsibility when choosing an investment; up from 29 percent the previous year."

[COMMENTARY] I’ve been watching the growth of interest in SRI among wealthy American investors -- particularly as reported by Spectrem Group -- for several years now. The full report is available for $9000.
Earth Day Update: Socially Responsible Investing Coming of Age, by Donald Liebenson, April 26, 2016, Millionaire Corner, USA.

ESG Materiality Without (Comparable) Metrics? Back to the future of financial reporting? "What if a firm could pick and choose which element(s) of its financials on which it would report? What if each firm could define its reporting categories on its own (think of choosing one or more contemporary non-GAAP financial reporting categories, e.g. pro forma, operating earnings, EBITDA, cash earnings, or some combination, any combination, or something else)?

Indeed, what if a firm′s Board could define which financial data points were material? What if a Board could determine when it should release information? How would publics (investors and others) judge a firm′s value, potential, strength/weakness, and how would comparisons be made?"

[COMMENTARY] The situation cited above was once the reality of financial reporting that investors had to deal with before the 1930s. We would think it ridiculous that such information and reporting were not standardized as we have it today. Yet, ESG/materiality reporting is now in much the same state as financial reporting all those decades ago. This article is a great read and the author makes a good case for establishing ESG/materiality standards.
ESG Materiality Without (Comparable) Metrics? Back to the future of financial reporting? By Dr. James Hawley, April 12, 2016, TruValue Labs, USA.

Ethiquette® new, independent, Canadian university-based responsible investment website. "Ethiquette®... developed and managed by the Responsible Consumption Observatory (RCO) of UQÀM′s School of Management Sciences (ESG UQÀM) and Ellio.... A crossroads for dialogue and the sharing of information by responsible investment stakeholders in Québec and Canada (organizations, NPOs, media and government), Ethiquette aims first and foremost to help individual investors as they venture into the realm of responsible investment."

[COMMENTARY] Ethiquette® is a terrific new site for Canadians and others seeking knowledge about responsible investing (RI). It offers information on RI products, strategies, resources and more...
® Canada.

Millennials set to drive major growth in Canadian RI. "82% of millennials surveyed believe that RI will become more important in the next five years, with two-thirds of saying it is important for their advisors to be knowledgeable about RI issues and trends."

[COMMENTARY] Deb Abbey, CEO of Canada’s Responsible Investment Association (RIA), reports on an impressive and important new Canadian study on the present and potential future investing actions of millennials, boomers, and Gen Xers. The studies’ findings show that millennials are extremely interested in RI! Even if you’re not Canadian, the reports’ findings are really worth reading.
Millennials set to drive major growth in Canadian RI, by Deb Abbey, April 14, 2016, Investment Executive, Canada.

Low Carbon ETFs for the Socially Responsible Investor. "Many investors believe we are reaching a political tipping point, when the regulatory burden on firms with a large carbon footprint must increase dramatically."

[COMMENTARY] A good article on low-carbon ETFs by Morningstar.
Low Carbon ETFs for the Socially Responsible Investor, by Kenneth Lamont, April 11, 2016, Morningstar, UK.

Is DJSI worth the effort? "Impressively, 7 percent of companies included on DJSI North America have been included for 11 years, since launch of the Index. Companies are selected for the index if they rank among the top 20 percent in their industry; existing index members are protected by a buffer rule that allows them to stay in the index as long as they belong to the top 30 percent."

[COMMENTARY] This is a great article explaining the intricacies of the Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI) and why companies might engage to be included.
Is DJSI worth the effort? By Megan DeYoung, April 7, 2016, GreenBiz, USA.

US DOL Bulletin Hampers Social Impact Investing. "The bulletin implies that the act of voting or otherwise addressing long-term environmental, social and governance (ESG) risks are unrelated to the provision of benefits.

’We believe the bulletin is out of date,’ said Meg Voorhes, director of research with (US SIF), an organization dedicated to advancing sustainable, responsible and impact investing across all asset classes.’"

[COMMENTARY] Surely, how companies perform on ESG measures has very real consequences for their future profitability. Yes, this DOL bulletin is truly out-of-date!
DOL Bulletin Hampers Social Impact Investing, by Juliette Fairley, April 7, 2016, AdvisorNews, USA.

Veres: Professional Advisors Already Winners with Fiduciary Rule. "The Department of Labor′s announcement of its long-awaited, long-debated fiduciary rule for retirement plan advice will be remembered as a milestone in the history of the industry. To put it simply, professional financial planners and advisors have achieved a victory, and the Wall Street and independent broker-dealer service models have been dealt a blow."

[COMMENTARY] This is a terrific step forward for average American investors. It now says that brokers have real fiduciary responsibility to their clients and are not simply salespeople!
Veres: Professional Advisors Already Winners with Fiduciary Rule, by Bob Veres, April 8, 2016, Nasdaq, USA.

PRI says now is the time to act on ESG in credit ratings. "Investors across our signatory network are being asked to support a call for credit rating agencies to incorporate ESG into their credit analysis in a more systematic and transparent way. In May last year our survey received responses from 99 investors who showed strong support for an initiative on credit ratings, with 78% wanting to see ESG more explicitly in ratings."

[COMMENTARY] This is a timely call for all involved in ethical investing to get behind PRI’s call to encourage credit rating agencies to integrate ESG factors into their credit ratings!
PRI says now is the time to act on ESG in credit ratings, press release, April 6, 2016, UNPRI, UK.

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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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