E-newsletter of Investing for the Soul April 29, 2010
Top ethical investing news for April 2010
Links may only be valid a limited time Commentaries by Ron Robins
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Vatican Backs First Christian Stock Index--Stoxx Europe Christian Index. - [COMMENTARY] "The Stoxx Europe Christian Index comprises 533 European companies that only derive revenues from sources approved 'according to the values and principles of the Christian religion'... A committee, which Stoxx says includes representatives of the Vatican, screens shares, which are drawn from the Stoxx Europe 600 Index.”
I have been
wondering for sometime when something like this this might happen. We
should note that Islamic investments have from their inception religious
oversight. I believe the Vatican involvement is positive for ethical
investing generally, as it brings more attention to ethics in finance.
Major Pension Funds Pressuring Companies
To Reveal Their Policies Concerning Bribery & Corruption.
"A coalition of 20 pension fund investors and fund managers with
assets of $1.7 trillion – all signatories to the United Nations
Principles for Responsible Investment – is pressuring major companies,
notably in the defence and construction sectors, to reveal their
management policies on bribery and corruption." I fear that what
these companies say, versus what they actually do, might not be the
same. For ethical investors, this poses a real dilemma.
55% Of US Advisors Allocating Portion Of Client Portfolios To Green Investments. - [COMMENTARY] "'To think, not five years ago, probably fewer than 10% of the financial advisors stewarding America’s private and institutional wealth even knew what it meant to invest in alternative and clean fuel solutions,' said Richard Bookbinder, Managing Member of TerraVerde Capital Management and author of Fund of Funds Investing: A Roadmap to Portfolio Diversification."
advisors are getting the message to invest in green. This is good news
for ethical investors as it may mean that advisors will give more
consideration to their concerns.
US States Begin Offering Legal Protections For Socially Responsible Companies. - [COMMENTARY] "When Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield sold Ben & Jerry's to Unilever (UN) for $326 million a decade ago, they did so reluctantly. They liked the payout but feared the new owners would ignore the social goals famously embraced by the ice cream maker. The board, though, felt it had no choice but to accept Unilever's offer. 'The legal advice was that the primary concern for the directors was the financial interests of the shareholders,' says Greenfield."
It seems that some US states are likely to
offer "benefit corporations" which would have greater legal protections
from the type of suit that Ben & Jerry were concerned about in the above
Oxford University Says Investing In Arms
Is Fine. -
"Oxford University released documents this week showing it believes
its investment in the arms trade is ‘socially responsible'." I have
known ethical investors to be on either side of this issue. Where do you
New Site: Climate Bonds Initiative. - [COMMENTARY] "... the Climate Bonds Initiative is an international network which promotes the development and use of Climate Bonds. These bonds provide for large scale issuance of long-term debt to overcome medium term investment barriers preventing the achievement of economies of scale in low-carbon industry sectors. The bonds can thus finance that global transition at speed and at scale."
ConocoPhillips and ExxonMobil Next Targets Of Oil Sands Campaigners. - [COMMENTARY] "An institutional investor campaign which is challenging oil giant BP (AGM) to improve its reporting on financial, environmental and social risks associated with oil sands investments in Canada at today’s (April 15th) annual general meeting, is being extended to similar resolutions at oil majors, ConocoPhillips and ExxonMobil. The investors have already lodged a resolution at Shell’s AGM on May 18th in a campaign that is gathering momentum, but seriously dividing shareholder opinion."
increasing environmental and water costs, oil sands producers may not be
as profitable as many hitherto thought.
A 'Data Engine' To Analyze Corporate Social Impacts. - [COMMENTARY] "A new group [GIIN] is aiming to revolutionise the standard maths used to select investments for billions of dollars worth of assets by constructing a data engine that contrasts – and quantifies – the tangible social benefits of investing opportunities... A formidable array of organisations joined forces last year to form GIIN and propel the effort, including the Rockefeller Foundation, Deloitte, PwC, Hitachi, Citigroup, Deutsche Bank, JPMorgan, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation."
The value I see in these efforts is that
they are likely to bring huge new funds into ethical investments. The
problem with such efforts is like that of economists trying to model the
economy--there are just too many variables to model and account for.
Nonetheless, it is wonderful they are attempting to create such a model.
New Global Sustainability Ratings
"Global Initiative for Sustainability Ratings (GISR),
is a swipe at the profusion of sustainability
ratings providers and the 'proliferation of tools
and methods' which GISR says has created confusion
for the market. The founders say the rapid
consolidation of the ratings field and the
The desire to create a single ratings
system to analyze corporate sustainability efforts on the surface seems
good. However, just as two analysts can evaluate a single income
statement and arrive at different conclusions as to a company's
prospects, so, I'm sure will there be continued variability in assessing
outcomes using a system such as the one proposed by GISR.
$16 Trillion Investor Coalition Quizzing Companies On Water Use. - [COMMENTARY] "A group of 137 financial institutions globally with a combined $16trn (€11.9bn) in assets have sent out questionnaires to more than 300 of the world’s largest companies on their water use as part of the Carbon Disclosure Project’s Water Disclosure initiative. The institutions include names such as Allianz Group, CalSTRS, HSBC, ING, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (MUFG) and National Australia Bank."
fast becoming the new oil in terms of importance to economic activity.
It will be rewarding for investors to follow which companies use
extraordinary amounts of water and how they are able to reduce its
usage. It just might significantly affect their bottom line in the
future as water becomes increasingly more costly.
German Investors Favour Ethical Investing. - [COMMENTARY] "Almost two thirds of German retail investors would prefer investing in ethical SRI products rather than other, potentially more profitable, opportunities, according to a survey commissioned by German asset management firm Union Investment. The survey, carried out by market research institute Forsa, revealed that investors between 20-29 years old were also the most likely to opt for a sustainable investment with 45% of them considering it an attractive option."
continues to be positive for ethical investing. However, and I am not
aware of the exact figures for Germany, but in North America and the UK,
ethical/SRI mutual funds have less than three per cent of the mutual
funds market. This is the perennial problem for the ethical/SRI
industry--how to get retail investors putting their money where their
Global Renewable Energy Market Predicted
To Grow Seven Fold Within Five Years: KPMG.
"The global renewable energy market is set to grow seven times over
the next five years to about US$560 billion. This is according to an
expert from KPMG, who was speaking at the sidelines of Eco World 2010."
Predictions for renewable energy growth are bright indeed.
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Disclaimer: Neither The Soul Investor nor Ron Robins make investment recommendations. Nothing in this newsletter should be interpreted as a recommendation or solicitation to buy/sell any securities or investments. The Soul Investor is a source of general information and resources for spiritual investing, ethical investing, and socially responsible investing (SRI). Investors should consider their actions thoroughly and consult their professional advisers prior to taking any investment action. The Soul Investor does not necessarily agree with the opinions expressed in articles in its newsletter or offered on the web pages to which it might be linked. Such opinions are the responsibility of the writers themselves. Furthermore, The Soul Investor 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 in this e-newsletter, or other sites, to which it might be 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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