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Shareholder Values

"64% of those polled were interested in investing, or
investing more money, in SRI fund options; and 22%
said they were very interested."
    November 2014

"92% of Canadians say that it's important to choose investments that are aligned with their values. By contrast, only 14% of advisors raised the topic of RI [responsible investing] with their clients."
Deb Abbey referring
    to 2014 NEI study
(Canada) April 2015

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




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Commentaries by Ron Robins  E-mail us your feedback

Links may only be valid for a limited time   February 10, 2016

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Green Bank Network aims to unleash private clean energy capital. "During the Paris climate conference, six green banks and two nonprofit organizations jointly announced the opening of the network Dec. 7. The network will accelerate clean energy installations and mobilize private investments worldwide... The six participating green banks are Connecticut Green Bank, Japan’s Green Fund, Malaysian Green Technology Corporation, UK Green Investment Bank, NY Green Bank and Australia’s Clean Energy Finance Corporation."

[COMMENTARY] The joining of these banks could be the beginning of a global green bank network. We will see if over time it becomes a significant player in global green energy finance. Some green banks, like the UK's Triodos Bank, seem to be left out.
Green Bank Network aims to unleash private clean energy capital, by Yinong Sun, February 9, 2016, GreenBiz, USA.

The First Benefit Corporation IPO Is Coming, And That’s A Big Deal. "Get ready for the first public stock offering by a chartered Benefit Corporation. This ain’t no friendly neighborhood organic coffee roaster, either. Laureate Education promises to operate as a triple-bottom-line business, but this is a much bigger, more complicated deal.

Laureate is the world’s largest for-profit operator of online and campus-based higher education. It owns, controls or manages 88 institutions that enroll more than 1 million students, 90 percent of whom live outside the United States. It has been growing rapidly, and in 2014 its revenues exceeded $4.4 billion. It’s a 16-year-old company, but it announced its new charter as a Delaware Benefit Corporation just four months ago, on the same day it registered for its IPO."

[COMMENTARY] Major investors in Laureate are KKR and the World Bank's International Finance Corporation! So this deal looks like it will be very widely watched and could the beginning of a whole new era of financing for companies focused on triple bottom line results. Ethical investors everywhere could get excited and interested in such deals.
The First Benefit Corporation IPO Is Coming, And That’s A Big Deal, by Brad Edmondson, February 4, 2016, TriplePundit, USA.

JPM teams up with World Bank and S&P for ESG platform. "JP Morgan Investment Bank’s structured products team has launched a new ESG-related platform alongside index provider S&P and World Bank, the group has announced.

The platform is called JP Morgan Ethos Investments and it is aimed at investors seeking to deploy capital in ESG-focused assets by investing across trackers, principal protected products, equity, credit and fixed income."

[COMMENTARY] This new product will be fascinating to watch. It certainly has a blue-chip pedigree. Clearly, with this type of backing it could go far.
JPM teams up with World Bank and S&P for ESG platform, by Silvia Sciorilli Borrelli, February 1, 2016, Citywire Selector, UK.

Adviser launches ethical online investment service for the UK. "Bromige Financial's expertEthical website is powered by Parmenion and will provide advice exclusively on ethical investments. The company said it wants to make specialist advice on ethical products more affordable for consumers."

[COMMENTARY] On-line investment advisory services are proliferating, but I believe this is the first in the UK to offer purely ethical products.
Adviser launches ethical online investment service, by Carmen Reichman, February 1, 2016, Professional Advisor, UK.

The SEC Isn’t Enforcing Climate Risk Disclosures By Fossil Fuel Companies. "Peabody Energy is not the only fossil fuel company to fail to disclose climate change risks. ExxonMobil, the largest oil and gas company in the U.S., is being investigated by both California and New York for not disclosing climate risks to investors and the public. So, what does it say about the SEC?"

[COMMENTARY] Probably certain economic elites who are hugely invested in fossil fuels are restraining the SEC. However, their power is waning! I expect the SEC to be much more forceful on corporate disclosure of climate change impacts in the years to come.
The SEC Isn’t Enforcing Climate Risk Disclosures By Fossil Fuel Companies, by Gina-Marie Cheeseman, January 28, 2016, TriplePundit, USA.

RepRisk Special Report: Most Controversial Companies (MCC) 2015. "How a company manages environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues is now seen as directly linked to its operational excellence and social license to operate. ESG risks – such as environmental degradation, human rights abuses, and corruption – can also translate into compliance, reputational, and financial risks."

[COMMENTARY] Among their top companies for ESG risk are: Uber Technologies Inc., Takata Corp., HSBC Private Bank (Suisse), Sony Corp., Volkswagen AG., and GM. It's interesting to read their analysis of how they view the issues related to these, and many other, companies.
RepRisk Special Report: Most Controversial Companies (MCC) 2015, January 2016, RepRisk, Switzerland.

Investors still sceptical about ESG. "Almost two-thirds, some 64%, of institutional investors polled by Natixis Global Asset Management in its annual survey said environmental, social and corporate governance measures offered by fund managers were 'primarily a PR tool'."

[COMMENTARY] The findings in this Nataxis survey run almost counter to other surveys of investors. Actually, when I read this article I wondered how thoroughly those institutional investors were aware of the research that predominantly finds utilizing ESG criteria generally improves returns? The survey -- and the tone of the article -- left me believing that most of those surveyed were still a little ignorant about ESG.
Investors still sceptical about ESG, by Andrew Pearce, January 26, 2016, Financial News, UK.

Socially Responsible Firms Tend to Pay Less Taxes. "If you cynics figured the do-gooders pay less in taxes, you’re right, according to a study published in the January/February issue of the American Accounting Association journal, The Accounting Review.

The study finds that a higher CSR corresponds to lower taxes paid. In a sample of US companies with an effective tax rate averaging 26 percent, the do-gooders ranking in the top fifth of CSR paid an average of 1.7 percentage points below other companies – and, ultimately, about 6 percent less when factoring in other differences in tax rates."

[COMMENTARY] This is a puzzling finding. Even the authors of the study were at a loss as to the reasons why this is happening. If anyone has some good theory or insight into this, please let me know.
Socially Responsible Firms Tend to Pay Less Taxes, by Terry Sheridan, January 25, 2016, Accountingweb, USA.

Warming up to ESG funds in 401(k)s. "According to The Vanguard Group, only 9% of all [US] defined-contribution retirement plans offered a socially responsible domestic equity fund in 2014."

[COMMENTARY] I have another interpretation -- other than that mentioned in the article -- as to why US DC plans offer few SR-ethical offerings. Since they have plan participants 'over a barrel' -- in that plan participants have to put their annual contributions and possibly those of their employers into what's presently being offered -- so maybe many DC plans figure why bother creating extra expenses for new fund offerings? Am I too cynical?
Warming up to ESG funds in 401(k)s, editorial, January 24, 2016, Investment News, USA.

2016 Global 100 Most Sustainable Corporations in the World Ranking. "European companies continued to dominate the ranking, comprising 53 per cent of the total. North American companies made up 27 per cent of the remainder, followed by a combined 20 per cent from Asia, Africa and Australia."

[COMMENTARY] This annual ranking by Corporate Knights is worthwhile reading for all SR-ethical investors.
2016 Global 100 Most Sustainable Corporations in the World Ranking, January 21, 2016, Corporate Knights, Canada.

Corporate Risk Disclosures Dominated by Non-Specific "Boilerplate" and Fail to Provide Investors with a Clear Risk Picture, New Study Finds. "The findings are contained in a new study, The Corporate Risk Factor Disclosure Landscape, published today by the Investor Responsibility Research Center Institute (IRRCi). Ernst & Young LLP (EY) was the primary research entity and contributor to this report. The study examines the risk disclosures of 50 large companies, including the five largest publicly traded companies in ten different industries with an aggregate market capitalization of approximately $8 trillion."

[COMMENTARY] This study comes at an opportune time as ESG factors are increasingly integrated into mainstream investment analysis. Analysts and funds will demand greater corporate disclosure of risks and companies that don't respond appropriately will likely be punished with lower stock prices. So we're going to have much more transparency of risk by companies in the future.
Corporate Risk Disclosures Dominated by Non-Specific "Boilerplate" and Fail to Provide Investors with a Clear Risk Picture, New Study Finds, press release, January 21, 2016, Investor Responsibility Research Center Institute (IRRCi)/Ernst & Young LLP (EY), USA.

Morningstar ethical rating could cost funds billions. "High quality global journalism requires investment. Please share this article with others using the link below, do not cut & paste the article.

Asset managers fear losing billions of dollars as a result of a Morningstar initiative that will enable investors to compare the ethical ratings of thousands of funds tracked by the data provider. Morningstar will release the environmental, social and governance scores of a large proportion of the 200,000 funds it tracks for the first time before the end of March."

[COMMENTARY] Sustainalytics has the contract to supply Morningstar with ESG ratings on some 4,500 companies, who will in turn apply those ratings to fund holdings. Since most investors are now interested in sustainability, a funds ESG rating could become a big deal for all fund managers -- forcing them to improve their ESG scores! This is wonderful news for ethical investors and for those of us desiring the greatest use possible of ESG criteria in funds' management.
Morningstar ethical rating could cost funds billions, by Attracta Mooney, January 17, 2016, Financial Times, UK.

2015 seeing $41.8bn green bonds issued – that’s the biggest ever!
"Achieving scale hasn’t been the only reason to celebrate the green bond market at the year-end; the real success is the geographical spread of green bonds across the world. Green bond markets are popping up all across the world, in Brazil, China, Estonia, Mexico and India… just to name a few!"

[COMMENTARY] Probably most SR-ethical investors want to have green bonds in their portfolio -- some might even have some now. Opportunities for investing in green bonds will likely increase markedly in the years ahead. It's great to see the Climate Bonds Initiative playing such an active role in assisting and promoting their development.
2015 seeing $41.8bn green bonds issued – that’s the biggest ever! January 2016, Climate Bonds Initiative, UK.

Tiny materials, big questions: How green is nanotechnology? "Working at the nanoscale — which can mean the near-atomic scale, with substances a million times shorter than the length of an ant, a thousand times thinner than human hair — brings the ability to create new materials that can perform tasks in ways that otherwise might not be possible.

But it also brings new concerns and challenges related to understanding environmental and human health impacts, because at the nanoscale, substances often take on chemical, biological and physical properties they otherwise might not have and behave in ways they might not at conventional sizes."

[COMMENTARY] Many blame short-termism for most of the problems in the markets today. However, short-termism may also cause potentially large-scale human health and environment difficulties with new technologies -- such as GMOs, nanoparticles, etc. It seems few people want to apply the 'precautionary principle' when it comes to the potential for profit. SR-ethical investors should especially read this article.
Tiny materials, big questions: How green is nanotechnology? By Elizabeth Grossman, January 14, 2016, GreenBiz, USA.

Ethical investing: making money, making a difference. "'We surveyed about 1,100 investors last year from coast to coast [in Canada], and 92% said that it was important for them to invest in products that are consistent with their own personal values,' says Chris Nickerson, senior vice president, sales and distribution, NEI Investments. 'And 71% of Canadians want their investments to help change or make companies better.'”

[COMMENTARY] Non SR-ethical investment advisors should understand they can do even better for themselves and their clients when they know the personal values of each client.
Ethical investing: making money, making a difference, by Donald Horne, January 12, 2016, Wealth Professional, Canada.

Corruption interruption. "According to TRACE’s 2014 Global Enforcement Report, there were 211 investigations involving foreign bribery being conducted in 27 countries by the end of that year. These cases are being investigated by countries that even five years ago were considered to be anemic enforcers, including China, Slovakia and Argentina. And while the U.S. leads the world in total enforcement actions overall, in 2014 more enforcement actions were brought outside than within the United States."

[COMMENTARY] It's interesting that the increasing interest of countries everywhere to rid themselves of corruption parallels the rise of ESG and ethical investing. They go together. This is a further promising sign for SR-ethical investors that the world is moving towards their ideals and can only help their financial returns too.
Corruption interruption, by Alexandra Wrage, January 8, 2016, Corporate Knights magazine, Canada.

Europe Leads Sustainable Investing. "San Lie, director of manager research, Benelux with Morningstar’s EMEA fund research team said in the firm’s latest bi-monthly magazine that $13.6 trillion was invested in sustainable assets in Europe compared to $6.6 trillion in the US. Lie said that a total of $21.4 trillion was invested globally in ESG (environmental, social and governance) assets in 2014, 60% more than in 2012."

[COMMENTARY] This article further discusses how institutional investors a far ahead of individuals in using ESG criteria in selecting investments. However, in all surveys of individual investors a significant proportion of them want to invest with ESG/ethical criteria in mind. Thus, again, I suggest it's the advisors not doing their job of 'knowing their client' is where the real bottleneck lies for individual investors.
Europe Leads Sustainable Investing, January 5, 2016, Markets Media, USA.

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 Español 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.

Companies with greater carbon efficiency outperform markets. "According to a new report published by the world’s largest asset manager BlackRock, businesses that have been at the forefront of improving their carbon efficiency for the last three years have dramatically outperformed the ones that have been laggards in this area.

The report analyzed the stock market performance of over 1,850 companies that have joined the CDP (formerly, Carbon Disclosure Project). It includes companies across sectors, ranging from energy and auto giants such as BP and General Motors to technology leaders such as IBM."

[COMMENTARY] A study like this from the world's largest asset manager is likely to influence corporate boards globally. Blackrock is clearly showing that ethical investors positioned in companies with carbon reducing strategies -- especially compared to their peers -- offers the opportunity for superior financial returns.
Companies with greater carbon efficiency outperform markets, by Vikas Vij, November 30, 2015, Justmeans, USA.

Stronger Focus Needed on Business Ethics and Whistleblowing Arrangements: IBE Survey. "The Institute of Business Ethics (IBE) has published its Ethics at Work Surveys for Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Spain. The survey shows that about half of employees who aware of misconduct do not voice their concerns. According to Philippa Foster Back, Director of IBE, weak speak-up arrangements leave companies vulnerable. If managements do not know what is going on, they cannot protect their businesses against crisis.

The survey showed that 61 percent of those who did speak up said they were dissatisfied with the outcome. This percentage has more than doubled when compared with 2012.

[COMMENTARY] Unsurprising that ethics is still an issue at most companies. Generally, businesses reflect the ethics of the society where they operate. It's obvious that only in a highly ethical society will the majority of businesses behave with high ethics. I believe ethics is largely a societal issue. However, that's not to say that individual businesses should not attempt to be more ethical.
Stronger Focus Needed on Business Ethics and Whistleblowing Arrangements: IBE Survey,  by Vikas Vij, November 26, 2015, Justmeans, USA.

(Benefits) Consultants adding ESG factors to decision mix. "According to research from Cerulli Associates, consultants are finding that they need to incorporate ESG factors into their manager selection decision-making process. More than half (53 percent) of consultants polled by Cerulli have dedicated resources for ESG manager research, and another 20 percent are considering adding resources."

[COMMENTARY] Interest in ESG continues to spread -- with this report that benefits consultants in their choice of investment managers are now largely taking managers' perspectives on ESG into account.
Consultants adding ESG factors to decision mix, by Marlene Satter, November 25, 2015, Benefits Pro, USA.

Decarbonizer: The first planetary investment tool... answers the question - 'Does it pay to decarbonize?' "Created by Corporate Knights and powered by carbon data from South Pole Group, the Clean Capitalist Decarbonizer is a free interactive tool that shows the financial implications of divesting high carbon companies in favour of those that derive at least 20% of their revenues from environmental markets or new energy.

The Clean Capitalist database covers 7,000 securities (comprising more than 85% of global market capitalization), including all primary public equity securities with a market cap over $2 billion and/or listed on major national and global indices. A professional version of the Clean Capitalist tool for the investment community will be launched at the upcoming Paris Climate Conference."

[COMMENTARY] Congratulations to Corporate Knights and the South Pole Group for creating an extraordinarily useful tool for investors wanting to know how portfolios would do were they to rid themselves of carbon related assets!
Decarbonizer, by Corporate Knights and South Pole Group, 2015.

Institutional Investors Increasingly Consider ESG Factors. "The number of U.S. institutional investors that incorporate environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors into investment decision making increased from 22% in 2013 to 29% in 2015, according to results of a Callan survey. The investment consultant’s 2015 ESG Interest and Implementation survey found that, by fund type, foundations (39%) and endowments (37%) have the highest rates of ESG adoption. Public fund usage of ESG factors has nearly doubled in the past two years, from 15% in 2013 to 27% in 2015."

[COMMENTARY] I really wonder if I should continue posting these surveys. They're all so repetitive -- but in a great way! The only remarks I'll make about this survey is that it demonstrates how far ahead foundations and endowments are relative to others and it would've been good to compare them to European equivalents.
Institutional Investors Increasingly Consider ESG Factors, by Rebecca Moore, Asset International, USA.

Stranded assets may add up to $2.2 trillion — blame COP21? "U.S. fossil fuel companies and their shareholders are exposed to $412 billion in potentially unusable assets from oil, coal and gas projects on their books that may never be needed, according to a report released today.

That vast U.S. exposure is part of $2.2 trillion globally in excess in fossil fuel drilling or mining projects that could well become stranded assets on the books of various private and state-run companies, according to Carbon Tracker."

[COMMENTARY] Carbon Tracker has produced a fascinating study on this subject. All investors have to be aware that their portfolios often contain expose to many investments that could be hit hard due to asset write downs, etc. Fortunately, many ethical investors are ahead of the game.
Stranded assets may add up to $2.2 trillion — blame COP21? By Barbara Grady, November 24, 2015, GreenBiz, USA.

Low level of climate integration into investments. "Only a minority of major European investors, found in a sample of asset owners that invests €7.3 trillion, integrate climate change into their investment policies.

However, research into these asset owners also found that 53% consider climate change to be a top priority. Nearly 90% of those surveyed use one of three recognised methods of responsible investment: stock screening; shareholder engagement; or selecting stocks based on environmental, social and governance criteria. Novethic says this shows investors are strengthening their responsible investment practices.

[COMMENTARY] This survey continues the trend -- found in countless other surveys too -- that responsible investment/ESG factors are increasingly a concern for investors.
Low level of climate integration into investments, November 23, 2015, Funds Europe, UK.

How your pension can change the world. "According to BNY Mellon research millennials would allocate an average 42% of their investment portfolio to social finance products, with those in the UK keen to invest in projects that focus on crime prevention and homelessness.

However, they feel that the pension industry is not listening to them as 95% said that pension funds and insurers only provide limited, poor or no options for investing in social finance initiatives."

[COMMENTARY] The pension industry is generally slow to adapt to new opportunities -- though there are some outliers such as Canada's Canada Pension Plan. It has used a responsible investment approach for many years. However, it too, I believe, hasn't gotten into investments related to the areas mentioned above: crime prevention and homelessness.
How your pension can change the world, by Michelle McGagh, November 21, 2015, citywire money, UK.

Individual Investors Can Now Divest From Fossil Fuels with One ETF. "A San Francisco investment firm today launched on the New York Stock Exchange what it touted as the world’s first diversified, socially responsible and fossil-free, exchange-traded fund (ETF) based on a climate leadership index."

[COMMENTARY] It'll be interesting to watch how this ETF performs financially compared to other fossil fuel free funds. It appears unique in its methodology.
Individual Investors Can Now Divest From Fossil Fuels with One ETF, by Jim Pierobon, November 19, 2015, TriplePundit, USA.

Investors use technology as tool to dissect ESG portfolios. "Institutional investors increasingly turn to new ways of deploying technology and data to up their ESG game. Environmental, social and governance issues have been moving up on the agenda in recent years. Now they are coming to a head with the onset of regulatory demand; new guidance from the Department of Labor stating that investors can consider ESG factors in their investment without fear of repercussions; student protests; and general pressure from investors across the globe."

[COMMENTARY] This is a fascinating article on how technology is aiding portfolio integration of ESG criteria.
Investors use technology as tool to dissect ESG portfolios, by Sophie Baker, November 16, 2015, Pension & Investments, USA.

S&P 500 companies up their game on climate: Report. "Corporate board level responsibility for climate change has soared to 95 percent in 2015 from 67 percent five years ago, according to a 2015 climate change report from the CDP, formerly the Carbon Disclosure Project. Among the other findings, S&P 500 companies actively working to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions have increased to 96 percent from 52 percent."

[COMMENTARY] These are dramatic numbers and bode well for adaptation by business to not only climate change but for all issues related to ESG. It seems the ESG message to companies from SR-ethical investors over all these years is finally taking root!
S&P 500 companies up their game on climate: Report, by Heesun Wee, November 16, 2015, CNBC, USA.

Is this a tipping point? Business action moves past the 'climate A-list.' "The influential not-for profit CDP released the latest figures in its annual report on corporate carbon emissions disclosures on behalf of 822 investors representing $95 trillion worldwide...

The report indicates that corporates have passed an important business tipping point with 89 percent of companies having activities to reduce GHG emissions. This is compared to less than 50 percent five years ago, before the ill-fated COP15 in Copenhagen."

[COMMENTARY] What great findings! As I've previously commented, it looks like the wind is at the back for a successful COP21 Paris conference. Long-term, ethical investors are likely big winners.
Is this a tipping point? Business action moves past the 'climate A-list,' by Michael Mathres, November 11, 2015, GreenBiz.com, USA.

SRI Research Prize Winner: The Market Places Significant Monetary Value On Greater Transparency. "The market values better corporate disclosure of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and these effects appear strongest among firms in carbon-intensive industries. That conclusion is drawn by Professor Philipp Krüger in a major study that was awarded the 2015 Moskowitz Prize for Socially Responsible Investing during a special ceremony last night at the 26th annual SRI Conference in Colorado Springs, Colorado."

[COMMENTARY] The good news is the continuing and rapidly growing market of acceptance of GHG reporting due to the kind of research of Professor Philipp Krüger. Congratulations Professor Krüger on winning the 2015 Moskowitz Prize! (See study.)
SRI Research Prize Winner: The Market Places Significant Monetary Value On Greater Transparency, press release, November 5, 2015, First Affirmative Financial Network, LLC/The SRI Conference, USA.

World Exchanges Agree Enhanced Sustainability Guidance. "The WFE Guidance & Recommendations identifies material ESG metrics which exchanges can incorporate into disclosure guidance to companies listed on their markets. Specifically, the enhanced guidance highlights 34 key performance indicators, including energy consumption, water management, CEO pay ratio, gender diversity, human rights, child and forced labour, temporary worker rate, corruption and anti-bribery, tax transparency in addition to other corporate policies."

[COMMENTARY] More great news for ethical investors. Soon all stock exchanges will have ESG guidelines for their listed companies, making the task of promoting ESG and SR-ethical investing that much easier.
World Exchanges Agree Enhanced Sustainability Guidance, press release, November 4, 2015, World Federation of Exchanges, UK.

The ‘Sin Stock’ Premium: A Neat Illusion Dismantled. "Two scholars associated with the University of Reading’s ICMA Centre, in a new paper, take on the notion that the so-called “sin stocks” (chiefly: stocks of companies whose business plan is tied to highly addictive behaviors) outperform other stocks in an actionable alpha-generating way."

[COMMENTARY] This is a fine article about an important study. The study counters the notion of sin industries outperformance! (See study.)
The ‘Sin Stock’ Premium: A Neat Illusion Dismantled, by "cfaille," November 3, 2015, UK.

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