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"Almost three-quarters of investors (74 percent) would be more likely to work with an advisor who could give them competitive investment returns from investments that also made a positive impact on society and 65 percent of investors would be more likely to stay with an advisor who could discuss responsible investing with them."
--
TIAA Global Asset
    Management
(USA)
    May 2016

"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
    Investment
    Association (RIA)
 
  (Canada)
    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
    International
   
(UK) June 2015

 

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Links may only be valid for a limited time   May 27, 2018

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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.

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[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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Three Risks That Are Haunting Big Oil. "In the UK, climate related risk has moved from the NGO agenda to that of asset managers. A recent survey reported that fund managers believe International Oil Companies (IOCs) will be negatively revalued within a few years due to climate change related risks."

[COMMENTARY] Finally, fund managers are getting the message! Even 'big oil' is coming around to the potential problems for them cited in this research and post.
Three Risks That Are Haunting Big Oil, by Felicia Jackson, April 26, 2018, Forbes.

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Methods for Selecting Ethical Investments: Some Sociological Explanations, a research paper. "Nowadays the need for an ethical and socially responsible approach to finance appears increasingly evident, yet the sphere of ethical finance does not have the success that one could imagine."

[COMMENTARY] This research delves into the subject that many of us in the ethical investment sphere have long been curious about: despite the large proportion of investors wanting to invest ethically, relatively few do!
Methods for Selecting Ethical Investments: Some Sociological Explanations, a research paper, by Caterina Galluccio, April 23, 2018, Advances in Applied Sociology.

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Time for a Global Financial Makeover. "In the past three years, the world has made some progress toward the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals for 2030, but the fundamental issue of financing the SDGs remains unresolved. And, with the financial sector strongly oriented toward short-termism, the necessary investments may never materialize."

[COMMENTARY] The UN is sounding an alarm that if short-termism in finance persists, the Sustainable Development Goals will never materialize. Many observers are sounding this warning. I've repeated it too over the past several decades. For long-term thinking, we need a new consciousness. Interestingly, some cultures have this orientation ingrained. For instance, China appears to think long-term in its economic and social planning. And they have done exceedingly well with it!
Time for a Global Financial Makeover, by Liu Zhenmin, April 24, 2018, Project Syndicate, USA.

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Weekend read. Capitalism coming of age: using the SDGs to bridge business strategy and social responsibility, by RobecoSam. "Our analyses of corporate philanthropy and citizenship practices shows that companies already recognize the need to address SDGs and are using their CSR programs to apply, advance and report efforts. However, stronger metrics are still needed, especially for companies and stakeholders to fully maximize impact."

[COMMENTARY] A superb, insightful analysis and survey of the rise of CSR and the integration of the UN's Sustainable Development Goals into corporate thinking and activity .
Capitalism coming of age: using the SDGs to bridge business strategy and social responsibility, by RobecoSam, April 17, 2018, Switzerland.

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Impact assessment model finds ESG funds ‘low on sustainability.’ "Investment funds aren’t what they say they are when it comes to sustainability or environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria, according to the company behind a new impact measurement model."

[COMMENTARY] There are many views on determining sustainability. Here is one perspective that many ESG-ethical fund managers might want to review.
Impact assessment model finds ESG funds ‘low on sustainability,' by Susanna Rust, April 13, 2018, IPE, UK.

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First-Quarter Volatility Doesn't Slow [US] Sustainable Funds. "Driven by the strong performance of the group’s core U.S. equity funds, one third of sustainable funds finished in the top quartile of their Morningstar Categories and 55% finished in the top half. Among sustainable funds in the large-blend Morningstar Category, 20 out of 37 finished in the top quartile, 28 beat the S&P 500, and 29 finished in the category’s top half."

[COMMENTARY] These results help confirm that in unstable markets ESG-ethical investment funds likely have more stability, higher returns, and investor retention rates, than most other funds.
First-Quarter Volatility Doesn't Slow [US] Sustainable Funds, by Jon Hale, April 12, 2018, Morningstar, USA.

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UK business leads in boards with climate change policies. "In North America, the US had the lowest proportion using and preparing to use carbon pricing, 15 and 9 per cent respectively, and, at 66 per cent, the lowest percentage of companies with board oversight...

The research, into 1,681 companies in 14 countries and eleven sectors, was conducted by the London-based Carbon Disclosure Project, or CDP."

[COMMENTARY] France and Germany were next. This information might be particularly helpful for ethical investors allocating investments across regions. CDP continues to conduct terrific and important research for the investment community.
UK business leads in boards with climate change policies, by Brian Collett, April 9, 2018, TriplePundit, USA.

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SRI stutters in bid to take foothold in Asia: report. "Socially responsible investments still have a long way to go to gain a foothold in Asia ex-Japan’s retail markets, according to new research from Cerulli Associates."

[COMMENTARY] Not just Asia -- but particularly throughout the developing world -- SRI assets lag. As countries mature, SRI gathers momentum.
SRI stutters in bid to take foothold in Asia: report, by Gary Robinson, March 29, 2018, International Investment, UK.

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Impact Investing: What It Is and How It Can Reshape Markets. "The Global Impact Investing Network, comprising several hundred institutional investors and asset managers, has released a roadmap to accelerate the development of impact investing, which has been growing in popularity among individual investors, too.

Advisors with clients who are interested in impact investing as well as those who view impact investing as means to attract new clients may want to consult the roadmap because it can help them monitor developments in that market and even allows them to play a role in those developments if they’re interested."

[COMMENTARY] Great information for advisors interested in impact investing.
Impact Investing: What It Is and How It Can Reshape Markets, by Bernice Napach, March 27, 2018, ThinkAdvisor, USA.

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Are asset managers delivering on their ESG claims? "Lane Clark & Peacock's (LCP) biennial investment survey of 120 major UK-based investment management firms finds a disappointingly small number have put in place comprehensive approaches to responsible investment, particularly when it comes to managing climate-related risks.

While the survey found some increased consideration of ESG issues and improvement in attitudes compared to the survey two years ago, only 8% of the 120 investment managers received the top score compared to 20% awarded the lowest.

Some 78% of respondents said they were PRI signatories - a substantial improvement on the 66% recorded in the 2015 survey. "

[COMMENTARY] And it is the UK and Europe that lead in the adoption of ESG. So, what is likely the situation in North America? It's clear that while the adoption of ESG issues is growing, it's still not a high priority for investment managers.
Are asset managers delivering on their ESG claims? By Victoria Ticha, March 16, 2018, Professional Pensions, UK.

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The Harris Poll On Corporate Reputation: Americans Favor "Main Street" Companies Over Traditional Corporate America; Praise Companies Bringing Innovation To Help Solve Societal Challenges. "'This year, the RQ® study revealed that socially conscious companies are thriving off of the division and dysfunction in government, and what we're seeing is a new vanguard of corporate leaders taking an active role to solve societal challenges that government can't or won't,' said The Harris Poll CEO, John Gerzema. 'We're calling this a movement of Big Ideals, where companies are rising above politics to focus on a pressing social challenge whether it be healthcare, transportation, or education.'"

[COMMENTARY] The top three of the 100 companies covered: Amazon, Wegmans, and Tesla Motors. Among those in the bottom ten are: Goldman Sachs, Monsanto, and Equifax. Ethical investors take note.
The Harris Poll On Corporate Reputation, press release, March 13, 2018, The Harris Poll, USA.

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Investing ethically? Buy shares, not funds! - A guide. "Ron Robins, founder of the ethical-ESG investing website, 'Investing for the Soul', speaks exclusively to What Investment about why he thinks investing in shares - as opposed to funds - is the best route to ethical ESG investments."

[COMMENTARY] This article I wrote, my tutorials, and other similar articles are for investors who can spend the time and have the confidence to engage in do-it-yourself investing. And they are a minority! I sincerely believe that investment/financial advisors perform valuable services for most investors including helping them maintain savings plans and keeping their emotions in check in volatile times -- so vitally important in today's markets!
Investing ethically? Buy shares, not funds! - A guide, by Ron Robins, March 8, 2018, What Investment, UK.

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The story of ESG. "Despite growing focus on the value of Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) data in our marketplace, we are only at the beginning of the beginning of how this traditionally “non-financial” data will matter. At the end of this process, it will cease to exist as something separate from financial reporting, and we will look back on the journey and wonder at the flat-earth nature of where we were. Here is how I see the timeline."

[COMMENTARY] Mr. Nixon provides an excellent perspective on the future development, role, and importance of ESG.
The story of ESG, by Timothy Nixon, March 5, 2018, The Economist, UK.

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TURNING POINT: Corporate Progress on the Ceres Roadmap for Sustainability. "Using data provided by Vigeo Eiris, the report offers valuable insight for companies, investors, and advocates into how more than 600 of the largest publicly traded companies in the United States are positioned to address critical sustainability issues such as climate change, water pollution and scarcity and human rights abuses."

[COMMENTARY] This report offers great ESG/CSR insight into corporate America.
TURNING POINT: Corporate Progress on the Ceres Roadmap for Sustainability, February 28, 2018, Ceres, USA.

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It's official: Sustainability strategies boost revenue. "The survey found the potential to expand revenues was the most important factor when deciding to implement sustainability strategies, with 39 percent of respondents citing revenue growth as a priority. Cutting costs was identified as the main driver for sustainability initiatives by 35 percent of respondents, while 30 percent said they primarily were seeking to boost brand reputation."

[COMMENTARY] The survey by ING shows that companies are finally understanding the benefits of sustainable strategies. It's good news for the global economy and for ethical investors.
It's official: Sustainability strategies boost revenue, by Madeleine Cuff, February 22, 2018, GreenBiz, USA.

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Every CFO Should Know This: 'The Future Of Banking' Ties Verified ESG Performance To Cheaper Capital. "Danone’s third-party-verified ESG performance will be 'directly impacting, upwards or downwards, the margin payable to the banks over the entire duration of the facility.'”

[COMMENTARY] This is great news and provides even more encouragement for companies to engage in ESG activities. Independent studies had verified that companies with high ESG ratings generally have a lower cost of capital. However, this is possibly the first time that it's been directly linked to credit facilities!
Every CFO Should Know This: 'The Future Of Banking' Ties Verified ESG Performance To Cheaper Capital, by Jay Coen Gilbert, February 20, 2018, Forbes, USA.

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Banking on a Low-Carbon Future: Are the World’s Largest Banks Stepping Up to the Risks & Opportunities of Climate Change? "Banks are exposed to climate-related risks through their lending and financial service activities, including project finance, equity and debt underwriting. These risks are real and wide-ranging. A recent study estimates that the value at risk for investors from climate change, under a business-as-usual scenario, may be equivalent to a permanent reduction of up to 20% in portfolio value in just over a decade."

[COMMENTARY] Great analysis of the state of global banking with respect to their financial risks and opportunities concerning fossil fuels.
Banking on a Low-Carbon Future: Are the World’s Largest Banks Stepping Up to the Risks & Opportunities of Climate Change? February 2018, Boston Common Asset Management, USA.

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Carbon Clean 200--2018 Q1. "We are happy to present the 2018 Q1 Clean200™ list of publicly traded companies that are leading the way with solutions for the transition to a clean energy future."

[COMMENTARY] This is a terrific list by two of the most respected organizations in the ESG space. And unlike most other ESG related rated rankings, this list is updated quarterly!
Carbon Clean 200--2018 Q1, February 16, 2018, As You Sow and Corporate Knights, Canada.

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Ethisphere Institute Announces 135 Companies Honored as World’s Most Ethical Companies. "Ethisphere’s notion that financial value and ethics are inexorably tied together has been borne out through long-term tracking of how the stock prices of publicly traded honorees compare to the U.S. Large Cap Index. The research found that listed World’s Most Ethical Companies outperformed the large cap sector over five years by 10.72 percent and over three years by 4.88 percent. Ethisphere refers to this as the Ethics Premium."

[COMMENTARY] Ethisphere's report is the absolute opposite of ReRisk's report below! Here we have the most ethical companies -- according to their methodology. It's a good idea to read Ethisphere's and RepRisk's reports together.
Ethisphere Institute Announces 135 Companies Honored as World’s Most Ethical Companies, press release, February 12, 2018, Ethisphere, USA.

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RepRisk Releases the Most Controversial Companies 2017 Report. "Eight of Ten Companies Included Were Exposed to Severe Governance Issues, in Particular Bribery and Corruption."

[COMMENTARY] Interestingly, RepRisk believes 2017 could be a landmark year when 'when the tide started to turn against corporate corruption.' This RepRisk report is useful reading for ethical investors. See it here.
RepRisk Releases the Most Controversial Companies 2017 Report, press release, February 13, 2018, RepRisk, Switzerland.

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Ethics in the markets. Some real concerns!

(1) Insider trading has been rife on Wall Street, academics conclude--The Economist,
"INSIDER-TRADING prosecutions have netted plenty of small fry. But many grumble that the big fish swim off unharmed. That nagging fear has some new academic backing, from three studies. One argues that well-connected insiders profited even from the financial crisis. The others go further still, suggesting the entire share-trading system is rigged."
Insider trading has been rife on Wall Street, academics conclude--The Economist, February 10, 2018, The Economist, UK.

(2) Does CEO Pay Structure Incentivize Actions that Destroy Long-Term Value? "The research finds that a high amount of equity vesting will increase the likelihood that a company will revise guidance upward; reduce research and development and capital expenditures; buy-back shares or increase the amount of its share buy-back; and even enter into merger and acquisition activity. It paints a clear and bold portrait of short-termism with concern for long-term value creation faded into the background."
Does CEO Pay Structure Incentivize Actions that Destroy Long-Term Value? Press release, February 12, 2018, IRRC Institute, USA. (They're offering a webinar on this subject on February 14. Sign up on the web page.)

[COMMENTARY] The above studies should alarm most investors. Why haven’t the regulators -- including the US SEC and numerous other watchdog agencies -- conducted their own research on these issues as they pertain to their activities? Are they told to look the other way? I believe we're heading for a mammoth crisis of confidence if such issues aren't properly addressed.

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One-third of [UK] investors deem social impact just as important as returns. "The survey findings also show that 65% of Londoners are looking to make more environmental investments, and that they are twice as likely to prefer investing in SMEs, rather than stocks and shares, than people from other regions."

[COMMENTARY] Here we have another survey showing UK investors becoming more interested in socially and environmentally responsible investing.
One-third of [UK] investors deem social impact just as important as returns, by Chris Seekings, February 9, 2-018, The Actuary, UK.

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When ethical investment desires equal a demand for returns. "There has been a significant shift in UK investor behaviour, with 60 per cent of investors looking to make more social investments in 2018, according IW Capital's latest nationally representative data, which surveyed 2,004 national respondents."

[COMMENTARY] Another good survey showing how investors are increasingly interested in ethical investing. Given the recent huge increase in market volatility, it'll be fascinating to see at the end of 2018 how real were the survey's predictions.
When ethical investment desires equal a demand for return, by Ingrid Smith, February 7, 2018, What Investment, UK.

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Yahoo Finance Expands Offerings as Only Free Provider of Sustainability Scores, across Desktop and Mobile Web. "Conscientious investors will be able to track the Environment, Social and Governance (ESG) scores of more than 2,000 publicly traded companies, only on Yahoo Finance."

[COMMENTARY] More wonderful news for the retail investor interesting in obtaining free corporate ESG ratings! Sustainalytics is demonstrating that it wants its quality ESG research freely available to all investors. Thank you Sustainalytics!
Yahoo Finance Expands Offerings as Only Free Provider of Sustainability Scores, across Desktop and Mobile Web, press release, February 1, 2018, Sustainalytics, USA.

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Barron’s 100 Most Sustainable Companies. "Barron’s offers our first ranking of the most sustainable companies in the U.S. We have always aimed to provide information about what keenly interests investors—and what affects investment risk and performance.

The term 'sustainability' doesn’t have a single definition, but for years now, European investors have looked at environmental, social, and governance factors—qualitative measures that people believe promote a company’s long-term health and growth prospects."

[COMMENTARY] Now we know that sustainability and ESG have arrived in America! One of the founders of ESG investing in the US, Calvert Research and Management, did the research. As such, it's methodology looks good. However, surprisingly, their list differs from many others in not including Google, Facebook or Amazon!
Barron’s 100 Most Sustainable Companies, by Leslie P. Norton, February 3, 2018, Barron's, USA.

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Strong ESG policies are no protection against scandal. "Companies that aim to do good for society by adhering to environmental, social and governance policies are more likely to encounter lawsuits and regulatory actions, says BlackRock."

[COMMENTARY] At first glance this is a surprising finding. However, high performing ESG companies are held to high standards, so when they don't meet those standards there's perhaps greater disappointment and backlash against them. Nonetheless, it's important to know the facts!
Strong ESG policies are no protection against scandal, by Chris Flood, February 2, 2018, Financial Times, UK.

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CUNY, Harvard scientists team with UBS Asset Management on sustainable investing framework. "The team leveraged recent advances in several scientific disciplines, including earth observation and modeling, epidemiology, and public health, and linked these data to corporate operational and financial data to show how products and services can contribute to more sustainable environmental and human systems.

The research suggests a new way to assess the sustainability of corporations for investors, who are increasingly interested in this investment approach. A key is to provide systematic, transparent, and verifiable metrics of success based on well-accepted scientific approaches, in contrast to the self-disclosure of beneficial actions that are claimed typically by companies themselves."

[COMMENTARY] This is truly ground-breaking work and particularly important for ethical investors. I just wonder if their research will be proprietary or available freely to all investors? This project has the potential to significantly enhance corporate ESG and financial analysis!
CUNY, Harvard scientists team with UBS Asset Management on sustainable investing framework, press release, February 1, 2018, Advanced Science Research Center, GC/CUNY, USA.

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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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