News & Commentaries by Ron Robins
The Next Wave of Socially Responsible Investors Has Arrived. “Swell Investing′s 2018 ’Money Meets Morals’ study finds that the vast majority of Gen Z investors aged 18-24 (84%) are either already invested in socially responsible or impact investments or plan to invest in the future. The study was conducted online by Harris Poll on behalf of Swell Investing and gathered insights from more than 2,000 US adults aged 18 and up, among whom over 1,400 have investments.”
[COMMENTARY]Even if one disregards critiquing the questions and how those questions might be understood by survey participants, the results still demonstrate the terrific potential for ethical, sustainable, and ESG oriented investments among the youngest investors!
The Next Wave of Socially Responsible Investors Has Arrived, Swell, USA.
[UK] Ethical funds beat market but struggle for breakthrough. “UK investors hold …16.7 billion in funds with an ethical remit, but that accounts for just 1.3% of Investment Association (IA) funds… ’Ethical fund sales are ticking up, albeit from a relatively low base’, [said Laith Khalaf, senior analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown.]”
[COMMENTARY]The above data provides further validation of my comment immediately below. In the USA and Canada, ethical, SRI, ESG funds are around 3% of total retail fund assets.
[UK] Ethical funds beat market but struggle for breakthrough, by Michelle McGagh, September 27, 2018, Citywire Money, UK.
UK millennials shun sustainable investments. “A survey has found that just 14 percent of UK millennial investors who cite an interest in sustainable investing actually invest in the area.”
[COMMENTARY]What people say and what they do are two very different things! The survey data cited above provides a good explanation of why most investors who say they want to invest in ethical, sustainable, responsible investments, don’t.
The latest Canadian data on responsible investing will be out in the next few weeks. I’ll be watching closely to see if the percentage of total Canadian retail fund assets invested in responsible funds exceeds 4%. If not, it’ll be another disappointment. Though, institutional responsible assets should still do well.
UK millennials shun sustainable investments, September 24, 2018, Private Banker, UK.
Climate Change, Paris Accords Driving ESG Strategies: Report. “A new report from Newsweek Media Group′s Vantage Thought Leadership division says environmental, social and governance investing has gone mainstream, having gotten a boost from the Paris Climate Accord and adoption of the UN Sustainable Development Goals in 2015.”
[COMMENTARY]It seems that ESG based investing has become so popular that almost every financial institution must do its own survey concerning who is using it. That’s good. It’s what I’ve been waiting to see since the 1970s! I was curious to see that in this survey respondents complained about lack of ESG oriented products. I can see this is probably true in fixed income and possibly ETFs. Though the latter is fast being addressed.
Climate Change, Paris Accords Driving ESG Strategies: Report, by Michael Fischer, September 21, 2018, Think Advisor, USA.
Schroders Global Investor Study 2018: Minority of people globally concerned investing sustainably would hinder returns. “Only a quarter of people globally are concerned that investing sustainably would hinder investment outcomes, an indication that investors are increasingly convinced robust returns and a positive impact are not mutually exclusive.”
[COMMENTARY]Schroders released the second part of their study which reviewed investors perception of returns concerning sustainable investing. It suggests that most investors globally now see sustainable investing producing good returns.
Schroders Global Investor Study 2018: Minority of people globally concerned investing sustainably would hinder returns, press release, September 17, 2018, Schroders, UK.
Only 20% of rich Britons hold ethical assets, study finds. “UBS says Britons were second-least likely to buy into sustainable investments after Americans… Just 12% of wealthy people in the US had more than 1% of their fortunes held in sustainable investments … a broad term which includes renewable energy and companies which have committed to pay employees fairly.
… 60% of Chinese HNWIs had at least 1% of their assets held in sustainable funds, followed by Brazilians and people from the United Arab Emirates.”
[COMMENTARY]The divide between institutional and retail investors concerning sustainable assets is still wide, especially in the developed world. I believe this problem rests mostly with the investment advisor/broker community. Most still don’t or want to understand, the potential impacts of climate change on their client portfolios. In the USA particularly, it′s probable that advisors/brokers are largely ’climate change deniers.’
Only 20% of rich Britons hold ethical assets, study finds, by Rupert Neate, September 19, 2018, The Guardian, UK.
Most Investors Are Going Green to Make Money, HSBC Says. “Financial returns were cited as the biggest reason to have a strategy focused on the environment, social issues and governance, known as ESG, according to a survey of 868 institutional investors by the U.K.′s largest bank. Nearly three quarters of companies with this focus said that this was their number one driver, followed by tax incentives.”
[COMMENTARY]’Financial returns’ could also be code for using ESG criteria to screen for potential material issues. As such, it reflects what other surveys of this nature report. It’s encouraging to see such huge numbers of institutional investors so engaged.
Most Investors Are Going Green to Make Money, HSBC Says, by Anna Hirtenstein, September 12, 2018, Bloomberg, USA.
Sustainalytics Launches its ESG Risk Ratings. “Materiality-Driven ESG Ratings Framework Enables Investors to Better Understand the Unmanaged ESG Risks Facing Companies.”
[COMMENTARY]Sustainalytics may well be launching a new ESG ratings’ platform that could become an industry standard in the years to come. It’ll be fascinating to see how it is received and to track its results.
Sustainalytics Launches its ESG Risk Ratings, press release, September 12, 2018, Sustainalytics, The Netherlands.
[UK] Government to demand greater transparency on pension investments. “Savers will be able to see at a glance if their pension money is held in ethical and socially responsible investments under measures to be unveiled today by the government.”
[COMMENTARY]This is terrific news. It sets an example for governments and regulators globally to follow. However, one suspects it might be a while before such action occurs in the USA.
[UK] Government to demand greater transparency on pension investments, by Josephine Cumbo, September 11, 2018, FT, UK.
ESG outperforms in European large caps and U.S. small caps. “Data compiled by Arabesque S-Ray show companies that score high in Arabesque’s proprietary ESG rating algorithm outperform lower scoring peers, particularly among large-cap European firms and small-cap U.S. firms.”
[COMMENTARY]The unique aspect of this study is the segregation of ESG performance according to a company’s market size and geographical orientation.
ESG outperforms in European large caps and U.S. small caps, Charles McGrath, September 11, 2018, Pensions & Investments, USA.
Fossil fuel divestment funds rise to $6tn. “Insurance companies lead the sell-off of coal, oil and gas stocks over climate change and financial fears … oil majors now cite divestment as a risk to them.”
[COMMENTARY]Yes, the oil majors should be worried and that’s why many of them are actively pursuing alternative energy. Despite President Trump’s attempts, these majors will continue to grow such energy sources.
Fossil fuel divestment funds rise to $6tn., by Damian Carrington, September 10, 2018, The Guardian, UK.
Sustainable investment not core investment consideration for institutional investors. “Investing sustainably remains a minor factor in the investment decision-making process despite institutional investors′ expectations it will grow in importance, according to Schroders’ Institutional Investor Study 2018.”
[COMMENTARY]Sustainability wasn’t even a minor consideration for investors not so long ago! Now, increasingly, it’s on the radar for most of them.
Sustainable investment not core investment consideration for institutional investors, September 3, 2018, Institutional Asset Manager, UK.
PRI develops guide to identifying ‘mainstream′ impact investments. “The goal was to help asset owners and fund managers better assess opportunities in this market, the United Nations-backed investor organisation said.”
[COMMENTARY]This guide is useful for all asset managers. PRI, Principles for Responsible Investment, has been working for many years developing this guide. For the guide, click here.
PRI develops guide to identifying ‘mainstream′ impact investments, by Susanna Rust, August 30, 2018, IPE, UK.
3 Challenges for Getting ESG Funds Into Retirement Plans. “CalSavers recently announced the selection of State Street Global Advisors to manage the investment lineup using existing SSGA funds or combinations thereof but said there won’t be an ESG fund in the plan, at least not initially. The reason? The ESG options were too expensive.”
[COMMENTARY]Jon Hale, at Morningstar, outlines the steps that could’ve been taken by CalSavers to get inexpensive ESG options included in its lineup. The points Jon makes are important for all fund managers to be aware of.
3 Challenges for Getting ESG Funds Into Retirement Plans, by Jon Hale, August 30, 2018, Morningstar, USA.
Stranded Assets: Developments in Finance and Investment, by Ben Caldecott and Achim Steiner, Routledge 2018.
“Taken as a whole, this book provides some of the latest thinking on how stranded assets are relevant to investor strategy and decision-making, as well as those seeking to understand and influence financial institutions. This book was originally published as a special issue of the Journal of Sustainable Finance and Investment.”