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Top Ethical Investing News for January 2018
Links may only be valid a limited time Commentaries by Ron Robins
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Just out, Corporate Knight's 2018 Global 100. "Companies from 22 different countries made the 2018 list, with the U.S., France and U.K. leading the pack. European companies dominated the rankings, accounting for 69 per cent of listed companies, while North America and Asia accounted for 22 and 12 per cent respectively."
This is a ranking I always look forward to. And European companies
continue to lead in a considerable fashion. Register to download the full
Sustainable Fund Assets Under Management Achieved Limited Gains in 2017 But Poised to Increase Traction. "During a year when a number of high profile environmental, social and governance (ESG) related events unfolded, sustainable fund assets under management in the US, including mutual funds, exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and exchange-traded notes (ETNs) achieved limited gains. Estimated net inflows, including new 2017 fund launches, were $2.9 billion or 1.5%."
It's an old story. Despite retail investors saying they're making ESG
investments, the numbers continue to show only modest growth in these
assets. According to many surveys, there seems to be much better ESG
take-up in pension, endowment, and other institutional funds.
Chinese index ranking companies by social value commitment aims to help ethical investors. "China Alliance of Social Value Investment says its Social Value 99 index outperformed traditional benchmark stock indices in a simulation."
It demonstrates that ESG investing is gaining ground in China. Actual
index information can be found
Hopefully, an English version of the page will be up at some point.
Millennial Investors Want Perks and ESG Investing. "The latest Spectrem Group report, 'Millennial and Generation X Investors,' suggests these two generations are significantly more attuned to socially responsible investing than their older counterparts.
In fact, survey results show more than half of Millennial investors (52%) see the social responsibility of their investments as an important selection criteria, compared with less than 30% of WWII-era investors and 42% of Gen X investors.
The study also reveals that almost a third of Millennial investors (29%) expect their financial adviser to reward them with gifts or other favors in exchange for their recurring business."
It's fascinating the degree to which millennial investors want perks from
their advisors! The rest of the survey's findings continue to reinforce
the fact that millennials are much more interested in ESG investing than
Larger Plans Continue to Outpace Smaller Plans in Incorporating ESG Factors. "While the top-line percentage was unchanged, plans with more than $20 billion in assets increased incorporation of ESG factors by 136% from 2013 to 2017, according to the findings. The authors note that these plans now have the highest rate of incorporation at 78%, compared to only 30% for the smallest funds. ESG adoption across all plan sizes has increased 68% since the firm’s first such survey in 2013."
I wonder if one reason larger plans outpace smaller plans in utilizing ESG
criteria has to do with staffing and resources of the plan managers?
State of Green Business Report 2018, by GreenBiz/Trucost. "The report looks at 10 key trends and dozens of metrics assessing how, and how much, companies are moving the needle on the world’s most pressing environmental challenges. The report is produced in partnership with Trucost, part of S&P Global, a world leader in helping companies, investors, governments, academics and thought leaders to understand the economic consequences of natural capital dependency."
The report is well worth reading for any ethical investor.
Demystifying negative screens: the full implications of ESG exclusions. "In this paper we explore the role of screening, the activities typically targeted, the different ways that exclusions are defined, and their effects on investment strategies. Our aim is to help both those investors with exclusion policies already in place and those considering them to understand the options available and the full implications of their choices."
Shroders quantifies the effects of various negative investment screens in
a variety of investment strategies such as growth, value, and income. It's
a pioneering work in this area and something that anyone interested in ESG
screening might want to read.
MSCI links ESG with stronger asset growth. "For calendar 2016 the managers that scored the highest under MSCI's responsible investment assessment recorded an average compound annual growth rate of 3.7% in institutional assets under management, vs. a 1.8% decline for those with the lowest scores. Over the two years, the CAGR is 2.6% for the leaders vs. 1.6% for the lowest scorers; and for the three-year period, those with higher responsible investment scores saw 3.6% growth in AUM, vs. 0.3% growth."
This is the first study of its kind that I'm aware of. The results could
give an impetus to fund managers presently minimally or unengaged with ESG
to take it more seriously.
Sexual Harassment Screens Making It Into ETF ESG World. "Impact Shares, is launching the first ETF focused on women empowerment that will screen for sexual harassment. The fund will contain around 200 to 300 stocks and will track the Equileap North American Women's Empowerment Index. The index applies 19 screening criteria, which cover gender balance in leadership and workforce, equal pay, flexible work options, safety at work and freedom from violence, abuse and sexual harassment."
I suspect this will not be the only fund to advance the cause. We'll
probably hear from many ESG oriented funds and managers that they'll
similarly screen for sexual harassment issues in their stock analysis.
Why managers need to wake up to ESG threat. “'It will get to a point where, if a fund group doesn’t have fully-implemented ESG integration, and had it in place for sometime, we won’t be able to use them anymore,' she [Teresa Platan, who specialises in selecting emerging markets and Japan equity funds for Aktia, a Finnish bank] says. 'The shift has been so fast in the past year with the clients suddenly asking so much about ESG. It’s difficult to say exactly how long before we’re there. Maybe only in a year or two.'”
The article's headline seems to imply a backlash against ESG integration.
However, as the quote implies, it's really cautioning those investment
industry players not already on the ESG train to get on-board now or lose
The New Grand Strategy: Restoring America’s Prosperity, Security and
Sustainability in the 21st Century, by Mark Mykleby, Patrick Doherty
and Joel Makower, St. Martin’s Press 2016
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Disclaimer: Neither The Soul Investor nor Ron Robins makes 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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