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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
February 2017


Commentaries by Ron Robins

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Dalbar: Active Investors Do Better Long-Term; Passive Investors Do Better Short-Term. "The study concludes that the choice of active or passive investing should be based largely on the needs and preferences of the investor and the cost of providing asset allocation and capital preservation strategies that are not available in passive fund."

[COMMENTARY] The predominant trend in recent years has favored passive funds. In fact, active management has been widely ridiculed even by the likes of Warren Buffet. Now comes Dalbar, a highly distinguished research authority on these matters, adding fuel to the debate of active versus passive investing.
Dalbar Announces Active versus Passive Analysis, press release, February 27, 2017, Dalbar, USA.

Socially Responsible Funds Underperform. (Is this true?) "In a new paper that will appear in the April 2017 issue of the Journal of Banking and Finance, a top scholarly journal, the authors study over 2,000 funds. They argue that prior studies on SRI or CSR funds are flawed because those studies simply categorized funds as being either socially-responsible or conventional. This categorization leads to too many other differences between funds, and it ignores the fact that firms can have varying degrees of social responsibility.

So, in the new study, they compare low-CSR funds to high-CSR funds. They find that high-CSR funds underperform relative to low-CSR funds. Their evidence is both compelling and robust."

[COMMENTARY] We’ll have to wait til the study is out to truly critique it. Initially, my reaction is how the term ’CSR’ is defined. Are the researchers only concerned with social issues? Even with that, how is it defined? Do the researchers include environmental and governance factors? One thing is for sure, it’ll likely be quite controversial!
Socially Responsible Funds Underperform, by Kenneth A Kim, February 28, 2017, FA Magazine, USA.

The Evolution of Corporate Social Responsibility Assurance – A Longitudinal South African Study. "Although the extent to which companies have provided independent assurance over their CSR disclosures has steadily grown, the study also revealed that the majority still did not. Although the pool of CSR assurance providers has widened to become more inclusive, contrary to the expectation that the dominance of the Big 4 audit firms would gradually be eroded, the study found that the Big 4 audit firms were actually consolidating their position in this area."

[COMMENTARY] I’ve long held that CSR disclosures should be independently audited -- as per financial statements -- and the results available to all stakeholders. Though the above study was South African based, it provides some insight into the possible state of CSR auditing today. Hopefully, similar studies will be done, particularly in the USA, Europe, and Japan.
The Evolution of Corporate Social Responsibility Assurance – A Longitudinal South African Study, by Barry Ackers, February 25, 2017, Social and Environmental Accountability Journal, UK.

The race is on for socially responsible investing in Japan. "The Japanese market is finally moving towards an ESG environment, similar to the mature markets of the US and Europe."

[COMMENTARY] This is good news for ethical investors globally. Historically, Japanese companies have been reticent to disclose much ESG information. This is now changing with Japan’s new corporate stewardship code and especially Japanese institutional investors such as their huge Government Pension Investment Fund demanding ESG data.
The race is on for socially responsible investing in Japan, by Seiji Kawazoe, February 20, 2017, FT Advisor, UK.

How to solve the imbalance in ESG investing. "Investors are actively demanding more information about different components of environmental, social and governance investments. As evidence of this, S&P Dow Jones Indices, one of the world′s largest index providers and a division of S&P Global, acquired Trucost Plc, a carbon and environmental data provider, in October.

During a GreenBiz 17 program Wednesday, Dmitri Sedov, vice president of innovation and digital strategy at S&P Global, said the acquisition of Trucost will help solve a gap between the demand for sustainable investing and the supply of these investments."

[COMMENTARY] We see many of the pioneer organizations associated with ethical-ESG investing being acquired by mainstream investment industry behemoths. In time, we will see if these hookups truly benefit investors. Superficially, this deal appears promising for ethical-ESG investors.
How to solve the imbalance in ESG investing, by Keith Larsen, February 16, 2017, GreenBiz, USA.

Global financiers launch green investment criteria. "Nearly 20 global banks and investors have launched a set of criteria for investments to be considered sustainable. The group, which includes Société Générale and Hermes Investment Management and totals around $6.6 trillion (£5.28tn) in assets, outlined the Principles for Positive Impact Finance (PPIF)."

[COMMENTARY] Such developments are welcome news. Developments like this make sustainable investing -- in this instance particularly for institutions  -- a little bit easier.
Global financiers launch green investment criteria, by Jonny Bairstow, February 16, 2017, Energy Live News, UK.

Nearly a Third of Non-Profit Institutional Investors Say They Make "Mission-Related" Investments, According to Cambridge Associates Survey. "In a survey of 159 non-profit institutional investors around the globe, 31% say they’re currently engaged in mission-related investing -- making investments designed to align with or advance institutional goals or values as well as provide financial returns. Of that group, 44% say they have increased their mission-related allocation over recent years, and 62% expect to grow their mission-related allocation in the coming five years. None of the institutions that currently make mission-related investments expect to decrease their allocations."

[COMMENTARY] We see continuing good news that non-profit institutional investors are increasingly aligning their investments with their missions. It always surprised me how a charity invested in companies that produced products or services abhorrent to its mission. Often it was blamed on the fund manager′s fiduciary responsibility. However, it was often due to the timidity of the charity in properly instructing their fund managers in what they expected from them.  See my editorial: Unethical Investing by Charities.
Nearly a Third of Non-Profit Institutional Investors Say They Make "Mission-Related" Investments, According to Cambridge Associates Survey, press release, February 15, 2017, USA.

Ethical investment demand outstrips adviser interest. "[UK] Fnancial advisers may be seriously underestimating demand for responsible investment, after research showed wide discrepancies between adviser and consumer attitudes to investing ethically."

[COMMENTARY] This is a problem everywhere and explains why the percentage of ethical retail fund assets is only 2-4% of all retail funds. It’s an issue I’ve written about numerous times over the years. This FT article should be broadcast by all professional brokerage and financial planning organizations.
UK Ethical investment demand outstrips adviser interest. by James Fernyhough, February 6, 2017, FT Advisor, UK.

Canadian RI Assets Surpass $1.5 Trillion, up 49% in two years: Canadian RI Trends Report. "The 2016 Canadian Responsible Investment Trends Report reveals that Canada′s responsible investment (RI) market is continuing to experience rapid growth. Responsible investment refers to the incorporation of environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) factors into the selection and management of investments. This report provides a detailed overview of recent trends in Canada′s responsible investment marketplace."

[COMMENTARY] These are terrific results! I’m particularly impressed with the growth of 91% growth of assets among individual investors.
Canadian RI Assets Surpass $1.5 Trillion, up 49% in two years: Canadian RI Trends Report, press release, February 2, 2017, RIA Canada, Canada.

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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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