Displaying items by tag: esg

Thursday, 30 March 2023 10:22

Biodiversity ESG Funds See 15% Jump in Assets

Over the last two months, there has been a 15% increase in the asset base of biodiversity funds according to an article by Natasha White of Bloomberg. This is a relatively new segment of the ESG market which saw a 150% increase in the number of funds last year. 

Overall, biodiversity is a fraction of the overall ESG market with combined assets of $2.9 billion. To compare, the overall ESG market is estimated to have $41 trillion in assets. The largest biodiversity funds are from Northern Trust, Axa Investment Managers, and Lombard Odier. All three are based in Europe, where there is a more defined regulatory environment. 

One catalyst for the asset class was the agreement at the COP15 summit in December of last year, where the Global Biodiversity Framework was signed by nearly 200 nations, with the intent to mobilize $200 billion annually to preserve and maintain biodiversity.

A challenge for the nascent fund class is the lack of standardized data on biodiversity which means there is disagreement on best practices and assessing impact. A larger issue is that many experts believe that the tradeoff between earning financial returns and maximizing biodiversity is too steep and thus can only be attained through public policy.

Finsum: Biodiversity funds have seen a 15% increase in assets over the last two months and a sharp boom in formation over the last couple of years. While there is agreement on the importance of preserving biodiversity, there are doubts whether it can be attained while generating positive returns for investors.

Published in Wealth Management

Investors have been expressing a growing interest in addressing ESG issues with the filing of a record number of shareholder resolutions to be considered this proxy season. According to As You Sow, the Sustainable Investment Institute and Proxy Impact in the Proxy Preview 2023 report, investors filed 542 shareholder resolutions concerning ESG issues in 2022 that they want public companies to take into consideration. The organization said that the leading concerns were climate change, corporate political influence, racial justice, and reproductive and worker rights. Many of these will be voted on at spring and summer corporate annual general meetings. While politicians are arguing over the merits of ESG investing, “Investors have shown long-term support for companies adopting for net-zero greenhouse gas goals and reporting on the management of climate risks and opportunities,” according to Michael Passoff, CEO of Proxy Impact and co-author of Proxy Preview 2023. He also added that “Shareholder resolutions have always been at the forefront of these efforts — first by educating companies and investors about climate risk and solutions, and more recently by calling for quantitative metrics on greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets, alignment with science-based targets, and incorporating climate-risk mitigation into executive compensation packages and company-wide business strategies.”

Finsum:Investors continue to show a growing interest in addressing ESG issues with the filing of a record 542 shareholder resolutions concerning ESG issues in 2022 that they want public companies to take into consideration.

Published in Wealth Management

While many ESG investors are drawn to the appeal of helping the environment with their investments, the two-year rally in oil and gas stocks has become too much to ignore. The energy sector has led the market for two years rising 135% in 2021 and 2022 compared with a 2.2% gain in the S&P 500 Index. Analysts expect the sector to jump another 22% in 2023, despite its 5.8% decline so far, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. ESG firms have taken notice. Rockefeller Capital Management takes pride in its ESG investing record. While the firm’s larger portfolio follows multiple strategies that include ESG and non-ESG, its $19 billion equity portfolio now has a 6% energy weighting. This is even more than the S&P 500’s energy weighting of 4.8%. Plus, clients in Rockefeller’s wealth management arm, which is separate from its asset management arm, have almost tripled their holdings in Chevron Corp. In fact, the stake’s value has quintupled to $251 million over two years. Their clients have also been buying tens of thousands of shares in Brazilian oil producer Petroleo Brasileiro SA, Diamond Offshore Drilling Inc., and several other S&P 500 Energy Index members, including Exxon Mobil Corp. and APA Corp.

Finsum:With a massive two-year run, and a strong return expected this year, energy stocks have attracted clients of firms such as Rockefeller Capital Management that take pride in their ESG investing record.

Published in Wealth Management
Thursday, 09 March 2023 14:30

Sustainable Funds Evaded Outflows in 2022

Sustainable funds that invest based on factors such as a company’s carbon footprints and workforce diversity were able to attract new investments in 2022, despite a broad market selloff. According to Morningstar, investments into U.S. ESG funds including stocks, bonds, and other categories fell to $3.1 billion in 2022 from $69.2 billion a year earlier, while conventional funds that don’t consider ESG factors, saw more than $370 billion in withdrawals last year. Fixed-income funds accounted for about 75% of sustainable inflows or $2.4 billion. Sustainable products are benefitting from capital chasing greener investments in response to a warming planet, while governments and regulators are increasingly setting ambitious climate targets. This is pushing companies to shrink their carbon footprints. Morningstar’s associate director of sustainability research, Alyssa Stankiewicz, stated, “Investors are experiencing more and more the first or secondhand effects of climate change and societal inequality, and that’s driving their desire to want to have a positive impact.” Some of the ESG fixed-income funds with the largest inflows invest directly in renewable energy and low-carbon transit alternatives. For instance, the Calvert Bond Fund saw $413 million in inflows last year, the third-highest inflow of any sustainable bond fund last year, according to Morningstar.

Finsum:Amid a broad market selloff last year, sustainable bond funds continued to see inflows while non-ESG funds experienced $370 billion in withdrawals as investors chased greener investments in response to a warming planet.

Published in Wealth Management

According to a Cogent Syndicated report from Escalent, advisors are not optimistic about the future of ESG investing partly due to growing political tension. Last year, 58% of advisors used ESG investments, down 10 percentage points from 2020, according to the Livonia, Michigan-based firms survey of over 500 financial advisors in September. In addition, only 15% of advisors who used ESG agree with its importance, while the majority of advisors don’t think ESG investing is a significant factor in attracting new clients. As part of the report, Linda York, a senior vice president in the financial services research division of Escalent, stated, “In the past six months, the topic of ESG investing has become even more divisive as political tensions rise. With firms suffering public backlash from using what many call ‘woke’ investment strategies, many advisors are waiting for clarity from regulators before using ESG investments. Increased supervision from federal or state legislature with added qualifications and reporting can only help in terms of ESG becoming more popular among advisors and investors alike.” In examining the reasons for the growing tension, Escalent said that advisors were concerned by the inconsistent definitions and perceived negative public sentiment of ESG.

Finsum:Based on the results of a recent report from Escalent, advisors are not optimistic about the future of ESG due to inconsistent definitions and perceived negative public sentiment.

Published in Wealth Management
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