The boom in credit inflows to ESG might be an obvious sign environmental risk isn’t actually priced in. Coal companies have got credit ratings boosts, mortgage increases in flood zones, and a myriad of other issues. These are all signals that risks aren’t properly priced into fixed income markets according to Tom Graff of Brown Advisory. Natural disasters are becoming more frequent yet greenwashing keeps this from accurately being a factor in ESG. However, there is an advantage for investors to take advantage of mispricing, if disasters isolate countries energy independence could be underpriced in many countries around the world, the anti-Russia position.
Finsum: Fixed income regulators are could be turning a blind eye to sources of credit risk which investors might be able to exploit in the early days of greenwashing.
Biden has hit a brick wall with his climate legislation, and now is going out of his way pleading that oil companies double down on drilling efforts to curb gas prices in response to Russia-Ukraine invasion. However, the SEC is expected to propose new regulation that will force companies to disclose data around their climate risks. This legislation will only come into effect as early as 2023, but it will put a major spotlight on the biggest polluters and carbon contributors. Many believe these changes will force companies to pay higher costs for their carbon use and maybe make it harder for companies to invest in green bonds and funds around these companies.
Finsum: This isn’t enough to end greenwashing; foriegn governments are well ahead of the US in terms of ESG regulation.
While ESG has run white-hot the last three years the main gripe was greenwashing, that was until now as anti-trust is on the horizon. An attorney from Arizona Mark Brnovich is opening an investigation into ESG investing with regards to anti-trust. The idea is pretty simple, while a top-down approach comes from legal agreements like the Paris accord, companies are suddenly allowed to coordinate and self-regulate among each other as to what constitutes good practices. Additionally, they may use ESG as a mechanism to compel or influence the removal of financing for companies from different industries. This coordination takes place through groups like the Climate Action 100+ rather than through the hush tones of a golf course but the effect is a coordinated one targeting companies or industries.
Finsum: There is a compelling case that without legal parameters ESG will turn into anti-energy coordination and tech-centric greenwashing campaign.
Europe has been the dominant authority in shaping ESG guidelines around the globe, however, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is bringing weapons to the forefront of ESG labeling. The bloc is redefining its ESG rules and the no-brainers include rules on gender pay equity, humane supply chains, and banning cigarettes and goods produced from forced labor. While there is hot debate on weapons German defense lobby group BDSV is pushing hard for the case as to why weapons are part of ESG. They are making the case that a strong defense is critical to the governance component of ESG. There is a willingness to hear these arguments by ESG labelers and it is being put under fair consideration.
FINSUM: Euro area defense companies have had a huge boost in the last couple of weeks and securing ESG financing could be pivotal to their future.
Environmental, social, and governance investing have been one of the largest sources of outperformance in the last two years, however, a mis-selling scandal could be coming to ESG investing. Most investors know mis-selling scandals from PPI, endowment mortgages, and diesel cars. ‘Greenwashing’ is not new by any means but high-profile cases with DWS and BlackRock are both escalating. BlackRock whistleblower Tariq Fancy said this could just be the beginning and that a combination of marketing hype and false promises could cause more scandal in the upcoming years. The difference will be if funds are on the hook for the language they put forth and that the Paris Agreement could be critical to holding them accountable.
Finsum: ESG investing could be reaching its peak performance, time will tell howgGovernments begin the crackdown.
A new study from Escalent details model portfolio use and acceleration since the pandemic. There has been a slow number of model portfolio adoption from third party issuers since the pandemic but those already using third party MP have had a significant uptick with over a fourth of them have seen an increase in use. However, advisors that lean on in-house production have mainly kept it that way which is a little over half of the users. Overall third-party adoption is still on the rise, and that's despite advisors' apprehension of MPs when compared to standard active management during high volatility.
Finsum: Model portfolios seem to be simplifying the advisor decision-making process, regardless of whether they are in-house or third party.