May 2018 Newsletter

May 2018 Newsletter

News & Commentaries by Ron Robins


Ethical funds reach record high in the UK. “Investors bought …138m in ethical funds in March 2018 compared to just …32m at the same point last year, according to the most recent data from the Investment Association. Ethical funds still make up a small proportion of the total at 1.3 per cent. But the number is growing, from 1 per cent in 2015.

[COMMENTARY]In most developed economies, ESG-ethical funds are gaining ground. And we can rejoice in that. However, everywhere, they still represent a tiny fraction of the retail fund space. Only when advisors really apply their ’know thy client’ rule to also consider the personal investing values of their clients will things change rapidly.
Ethical funds reach record high in the UK, by Kate Beioley, May 23, 2018, FT, UK.


[US government’s] GAO Urges Removal Of Roadblocks To ESG Investing In Retirement Plans. “ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) investing roadblocks in retirement plans should be removed, the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the investigative arm of Congress, urged in a report today. ’Asset managers and state and municipal plans using ESG strategies report enhanced risk management and other benefits,’ the report said.”

[COMMENTARY]Good to see other arms of the US government are proposing that the recent US Department of Labor’s guidance on ESG use in pension funds is not only potentially harmful but even likely injurious to long-term fund returns.
[US government’s] GAO Urges Removal Of Roadblocks To ESG Investing In Retirement Plans, by Ted Knutson, May 22, 2018, Forbes, USA.


A New Measure Captures a Company′s “Total Social Investment.” “In its report ’What Counts: The ‘S′ in ESG, New Conclusions,’ CECP, with support from Cisco, introduces an aggregated calculation called ’Total Social Investment (TSI).’ The calculation is a forward-looking reflection of the innovative ways companies invest in society. TSI offers a high-level and comparable snapshot for use by investors and other stakeholders to determine the value created by the ’S’ efforts in Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) measures.”

[COMMENTARY]An insightful, new perspective on evaluating the ’S’ in ESG. Hopefully, many companies and investors will adopt this measure.
A New Measure Captures a Company′s “Total Social Investment,” by CECP, May 16, 2018, USA.


In Sight of the Clean Trillion. “The Ceres Clean Trillion highlights the need for an additional $1 trillion per year in clean energy investment to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. Now that clean energy has gone mainstream, this ’Clean Trillion’ goal is eminently feasible. This report, In Sight of the Clean Trillion, points to significant opportunities for investors to scale up their clean energy investments while simultaneously meeting their risk-return requirements.”

[COMMENTARY]Investors should download the full report to get expert guidance on clean energy investment opportunities. Ceres is doing a terrific job!
In Sight of the Clean Trillion, press release, May 10, 2018, Ceres, USA.


Corporate Responsibility Magazine Announces 2018 100 Best Corporate Citizens. “’CR Magazine is proud to present the only ESG ranking list that doesn’t rely on self-reporting,’ said Dave Armon, publisher of CR Magazine. ’Each year, the 100 Best Corporate Citizens ranking measures the success of the Brands Taking Stands movement by celebrating the most successful, most transparent companies that report on their responsible practices. We congratulate those honored on this year’s list for their commitment to corporate responsibility.’”

[COMMENTARY]The top five 2018 winners are Microsoft Corporation, Accenture plc, Owens Corning, Intel Corp., and Hasbro, Inc. See the full list at the link below.
Corporate Responsibility Magazine Announces 2018 100 Best Corporate Citizens, press release, May 7, 2018, USA.


Mercer touts ESG integration, SDGs. “We have seen good progress with asset managers since we started assessing ESG integration at the strategy level. In 2010, less than 9 per cent of investment strategies with an ESG rating were ESG1 or ESG2. At the beginning of 2018, more than 15 per cent of active investment strategies achieved a high rating. This highlights that there is still much room for improvement across the market.”

[COMMENTARY]A good overview of the state of ESG integration in financial analysis and the need for it, among asset managers.
Mercer touts ESG integration, SDGs, by Sarika Goel, May 7, 2018, Top 1000 Funds, Australia.


Advisors Stand In Way Of ESG Investing. “When it comes to impact investing, advisors often say their clients do not ask for it. But many clients do not know enough to ask about the possibilities of ESG investing, according to Marlo Stil, managing partner and financial advisor at the Wealth Consulting Group in Nevada…

When clients learn they can invest in a way that promotes their personal goals, ’78 percent want to know more,’ Stil said during a discussion of environmental, social and governance (ESG) investing at the Invest In Women conference, which is being sponsored by Financial Advisor and Private Wealth magazines and held in Houston.”

[COMMENTARY]Regular readers of this column know that I believe the biggest barrier at the retail level to ESG-ethical investing are advisors. I was happy to see two different financial articles in advisor related publications on this subject today, and I thought to post this one. I’m delighted that this discussion is now occurring among advisors.

I could never understand that since the ’know thy client rule’ was central to advisors conduct with their clients, that it was rarely, truly, applied. It’s as if the client’s personal values really didn’t matter.
Advisors Stand In Way Of ESG Investing, by Karen Demasters, May 2, 2018, Financial Advisor, USA.


Featured Book

Conscious Investing: Practitioners’ views on holistic investing approaches that benefit people and the planet, by Christin ter Braak-Forstinger, Harriman House 2017.
“Now is the time to rethink growth and radically change the way of investing in order to save the planet. With her book Conscious Investing, Christin ter Braak-Forstinger provides a comprehensive guide for the societal shift towards sustainability.”—Dr. Franz Fischler, President of the European Forum Alpbach.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *