Displaying items by tag: esg

Saturday, 21 January 2023 09:18

ESG Themes to Keep an Eye on in 2023

Last year was a notable year for ESG investing. While ESG funds dealt with underperformance, anti-ESG initiatives, and regulation, demand continued to be strong for these funds. This year could be just as eventful for the strategy. First, there were record numbers of shareholder resolutions filed at public companies last year due to the SEC’s friendlier stance on them. That is expected to continue as companies set climate-related targets and shareholders press them on ESG matters. Second, while 57% of institutions expect the energy sector to outperform the market again this year, according to Natixis’ Global Survey of Institutional Investors, 46% said that they are increasing investments in renewables, twice the rate of those increasing investments in fossil fuels. Third, while the SEC has proposed a set of rules designed to help curb greenwashing, firms have a bigger motivator to stop, sweep examinations. According to Michael McGrath, a partner at K&L Gates, “That has had a greater impact on the approaches of firms to their ESG marketing actions thus far than have the new rules. That’s really because firms have an immediate concern that needs to be addressed.” The last theme to watch is anti-ESG initiatives. Asset managers that are focused on sustainable investing will have to accept the fact that they may not be competitive in some markets.


Finsum:2022 was a highly eventful year for ESG investing and this year will be no different due to themes such as shareholder resolutions, increased investments in renewables, SEC sweep examinations, and continued anti-ESG initiatives. 

Published in Wealth Management

While ESG continues to face backlash on the political front, this is still a strong demand for sustainability from investors. For example, recent research from Ernst and Young (EY) found that sustainability experience at the board level in Europe has increased over the last six months as companies respond to investor demand. The latest EY Boardroom Monitor found that 32% of companies currently have board directors with professional experience or expertise in sustainability. While that figure may seem low, it’s a big jump from EY’s Boardroom Monitor in June, when only 19% of boards monitored listed sustainability expertise. The jump in experience corresponds with EY’s research that showed sustainability was a dealbreaker for investing for a majority of investors. Over fifty percent (51%) of investors said boardroom experience in sustainability has a ‘significant’ impact in terms of making a company an attractive investment. Twenty-two percent went further, saying it has a “highly significant” impact on a company’s investment case. Other findings from EY’s research revealed that sustainability experience is much more prevalent among female board members. While the current gender split in financial services boardrooms is 58% male and 42% female, 72% of board directors with experience in sustainability are female.


Finsum:According to research from Ernst and Young, sustainability experience in the board room jumped from 19% in June to 32% as companies respond to investor demand.

Published in Wealth Management

Last month, the Vanguard Group decided to drop out of the Net Zero Asset Managers initiative, whose members commit to making their investment portfolios emission-neutral by 2050. The decision by Vanguard emphasizes the notion that retail investors are less focused on ESG priorities than institutional investors. The fund giant said that 80% of its nearly $8 trillion in assets are in index funds, which typically attract retail investors. The rationale for the decision, according to Vanguard was that it was responding to the desire of its clients to provide "clarity" and make its independence clear. Vanguard's largest competitors, BlackRock and State Street rely more on institutional investors such as pension funds and foundations. Todd Rosenbluth, head of research at VettaFi told Reuters that “Institutional investors focus more on climate and other ESG priorities amid pressure to do so by clients, regulators and investment activists. BlackRock and State Street are appealing to an investment base that cares more about ESG." Both BlackRock and State Street have stuck with the Net Zero Asset Managers initiative. Rosenbluth also stated that “Many retail investors are also interested in matters like climate change, but prioritize them less in building retirement portfolios.” That matches a FINRA Investor Education Foundation study of retail investors last year that found only 9% of respondents held ESG investments.


Finsum:Many retail investors are interested in climate change, but prioritize them less in building portfolios, while institutional investors focus more on ESG amid pressure from clients, regulators, and activists.

Published in Wealth Management

If your clients are invested in Chinese companies and have a preference for ESG, it may be time for a change in their portfolios. It appears sustainability rules in western countries are at odds with what’s happening in China. While Chinese equities offer strong growth potential, their ESG ratings rank lower than western nations and most emerging markets. For instance, Sustainalytics, a sustainable rating agency owned by Morningstar, downgraded three Chinese big-name tech companies on its watchlist in October. The three stocks, Tencent, Weibo, and Baidu, were moved to the category of “non-compliant with UN principles.” In addition, Hong Kong Watch, a UK-based group that researches investment and human rights issues in China, recently said in a report that “many of the biggest asset management, state pension, and sovereign wealth funds were passively invested in companies allegedly involved in the repression of Uyghur Muslims in China’s Xinjiang region.” The report found three major stock indices provided by MSCI included at least 13 companies that “have allegedly used forced labor or have profited from China’s construction of internment camps and surveillance apparatus in Xinjiang.” Another problem is that Chinese companies are less likely to respond to queries from ESG rating agencies.


Finsum:With ESG investing continuing to gain momentum, it appears that many Chinese companies are at odds with ESG due to censorship and repression in China.

Published in Eq: Asia
Thursday, 05 January 2023 11:35

Save Launches ESG Savings Product

Investment advisor and banking solutions provider Save recently announced that it launched a savings product that is focused on ESG investing. The firm said in a recent press release that its "Market Savings program offers an option that provides a yield from iShares ESG Aware exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and other ETFs.” According to the press release, the ESG Market Savings portfolio aims to maximize environmental, social, and governance characteristics and exclude companies with certain practices. The release also said that since the launch of this ESG portfolio, about 10% of the people who have signed up for Market Savings have selected the Save ESG portfolio. Save Founder and CEO Michael Nelskyla said the following in the release, “Consumers are increasingly turning to ethical choices in all aspects of life including investments. We see it as our fiduciary responsibility to offer ethical investing through our Market Savings program for those consumers who seek these choices.” The Market Savings program on Save’s Savetech platform offers a yield that varies according to underlying market performance. It also noted that customer deposits are FDIC insured.


Finsum:Save announced that it launched an ESG Market Savings portfolio that aims to maximize environmental, social, and governance characteristics and exclude companies with certain practices.

Published in Wealth Management
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