Meet Kate Starr, CFA, CIO, Flat World Partners @ #Intro2ESG Training

Presenting at Introduction to ESG, Sustainable & Impact Investment OneDay Training
The How & Why of Applying ESG to Corporate Valuations
Hosted by Zicklin School of Business at Baruch College/CUNY on June 15th

Introduction:  For professionals in the capital markets, and in the corporate sector, G&A Institute and Global Change Associates are teamed to present a one-day professional training program, hosted by Zicklin School of Business at Baruch College/CUNY, in midtown Manhattan.  This is an excellent introduction to the application of ESG factors to investment making decisions and corporate valuations.  Find out more at https://intro2esg.eventbrite.com

ESG = the corporate environmental, social or societal and corporate governance factors to be evaluated by the financial analyst, asset owner, asset manager, and others in the capital markets in looking beyond the financial in selecting public companies for “buy/sell/hold” portfolio management decisions. (This is also referred to as “sustainable investing,” “impact investing,” and similar titles by practitioners.)

The outstanding faculty presenting during the one-day course will include experts in ESG / sustainable / impact investing, covering topics such as best practices; data sources; analytical tools; research resources; methodologies; why ESG matters; and realized outcomes using these approaches to analysis and investment management.

MEET ONE OF YOUR COURSE LEADERS
Kate Starr, CFA
Chief Investment Officer, Flat World Partners
TOPIC: What Investors Need to Know About the Rising Importance of Impact Investing

A conversation with Kate:

Q:   How is your day-to-day work related to the Intro to ESG, Sustainable & Impact Investment Certificate Program to be presented at Baruch?
[KS] Here at Flat World Partners, we help family offices, foundations, pension funds, and wealth advisors build customized investment portfolios that drive positive environmental and social impact.  We look at everything from direct investments in early-stage companies to public equity and fixed income and think about how ESG works across asset classes.

Q:  What can attendees expect to learn from your session?
[KS] I’ll be focusing on “impact investing” — what it means and where it fits into an overall portfolio from both an investment and a client service perspective.  We’ll talk about the issue of impact measurement and how to think about simple, effective ways to do it. Last, we’ll discuss some of the most interesting themes and strategies that we’re seeing in the market right now.

Q:  What advice do you have or opportunity that you see for attendees who complete the Certificate Program?
[KS] Our entire business is focused on impact, or sustainable investing, because we believe that it represents the future of investing.  Clients have already woken up to the fact that finance and investment plays a big role in shaping the world around them. 

Finance and investment teams who can recognize that demand and lead their clients to a better future will be the ones to be sustainable over the long-term.

* * * * * * * *

CAREER BACKGROUND: KATE STARR
Kate leads investment strategy and portfolio development at Flat World Partners. In her prior role at the Heron Foundation, Kate formed and led the team that invests Heron’s approximately US$300 million portfolio for impact. Working with the board and staff, Kate developed the investment policy statement and implementation plan to move the foundation to invest 100% of its assets for mission.

Kate started her career as an economics and equities analyst at First Asset Management and moved into research on microfinance in Tanzania.  She is a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA), co-leading the Sustainability Committee at the New York Society of Security Analysts (NYSSA),.  She serves on the investment committee of the Christopher Reynolds Foundation; and, serves as an advisor to the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) and the Mission Investors Exchange.

She was graduated from Indiana University with an Honors degree in English and Italian, and earned a Master’s degree in International Relations from Johns Hopkins School for Advanced International Studies.

For more information about the course and how to register, visit: https://intro2esg.eventbrite.com

Meet Hideki Suzuki, Senior ESG Analyst, Bloomberg LP @ #Intro2ESG Training

Presenting at Introduction to ESG, Sustainable & Impact Investment OneDay Training
The How & Why of Applying ESG to Corporate Valuations
Hosted by Zicklin School of Business at Baruch College/CUNY on June 15th

Introduction:  For professionals in the capital markets, and in the corporate sector, G&A Institute and Global Change Associates are teamed to present a one-day professional training program, hosted by Zicklin School of Business at Baruch College/CUNY, in midtown Manhattan.  This is an excellent introduction to the application of ESG factors to investment making decisions and corporate valuations.  Find out more at https://intro2esg.eventbrite.com

ESG = the corporate environmental, social or societal and corporate governance factors to be evaluated by the financial analyst, asset owner, asset manager, and others in the capital markets in looking beyond the financial in selecting public companies for “buy/sell/hold” portfolio management decisions. (This is also referred to as “sustainable investing,” “impact investing,” and similar titles by practitioners.)

The outstanding faculty presenting during the one-day course will include experts in ESG / sustainable / impact investing, covering topics such as best practices; data sources; analytical tools; research resources; methodologies; why ESG matters; and realized outcomes using these approaches to analysis and investment management.

MEET ONE OF YOUR COURSE LEADERS
Hideki Suzuki
Senior ESG Analyst, Bloomberg LP
TOPIC:  ESG Equity Fundamentals Data Analytics

A conversation with Hideki:

Q:  How is your day-to-day work related to the Intro to ESG, Sustainable & Impact Investment Certificate Program to be presented at Baruch?
[HS] 
My day-to-day is to manage ESG data products on Bloomberg – both on and off terminal. We extract and ingest listed company & debt issuer ESG data into our system and make sure they speak with our analytics correctly.

Q:  What can attendees expect to learn from your session?
[HS] ESG information is easy to digest when a company/issuer gives you fiscal period environmental and social data  that give analysts company operational insights – by that we mean operational risks & opportunities into how companies manage things like resource consumption and human capital issues.

As for governance, how well is this company being managed?

This is a qualitative question every analyst is trying to answer by looking at company structure and listening into CEO/CFO’s presentations. Quantitative data on board of directors and executive  statistics – ex) company executive pay practice, can give you clues on how company rewards executives for taking risks etc.

Participants will learn “how you can navigate a widening variety of datasets available on the Bloomberg terminal to find best-in-class issuers.”

What advice do you have or opportunity that you see for attendees who complete the Certificate Program?
[HS] Data is still challenging at times in this space but challenge is an opportunity for investors – opportunity to manage beta, generate alpha and an engagement opportunity with the public company. If you are a consultant or in other service provider space, this is your business opportunity to help companies/investment firms respond to ESG questions and help them tell their ESG stories well.

* * * * * * * *

CAREER BACKGROUND: HIDEKI SUZUKI
Hideki is a senior corporate governance analyst and also a team lead for ESG data team at Bloomberg.

After joining Bloomberg LP in 1999, he spent the first five years in electronic trading desk support and 3rd party fixed-income and the derivatives pricing contents team.

In 2005, Hideki moved to the equity fundamentals data department, and then moved to the ESG team in December 2008. From 2014 on, his focus has been to build database and analytics for corporate governance and executive compensation products on the Bloomberg terminal.

Since 2016, he is a team lead for the ESG data analyst team at Bloomberg.

He has a B.A. in Economics and History from Fordham University.

For more information about the course and how to register, visit: https://intro2esg.eventbrite.com

 

Meet Agnes Terestchenko, Senior Manager, Investor Initiatives North America, CDP Speaker @ #Intro2ESG Training

Presenting at Introduction to ESG, Sustainable & Impact Investment OneDay Training
The How & Why of Applying ESG to Corporate Valuations
Hosted by Zicklin School of Business at Baruch College/CUNY on June 15th

Introduction:  For professionals in the capital markets, and in the corporate sector, G&A Institute and Global Change Associates are teamed to present a one-day professional training program, hosted by Zicklin School of Business at Baruch College/CUNY, in midtown Manhattan.  This is an excellent introduction to the application of ESG factors to investment making decisions and corporate valuations.  Find out more at https://intro2esg.eventbrite.com

ESG = the corporate environmental, social or societal and corporate governance factors to be evaluated by the financial analyst, asset owner, asset manager, and others in the capital markets in looking beyond the financial in selecting public companies for “buy/sell/hold” portfolio management decisions. (This is also referred to as “sustainable investing,” “impact investing,” and similar titles by practitioners.)

The outstanding faculty presenting during the one-day course will include experts in ESG / sustainable / impact investing, covering topics such as best practices; data sources; analytical tools; research resources; methodologies; why ESG matters; and realized outcomes using these approaches to analysis and investment management.

MEET ONE OF YOUR COURSE LEADERS
Agnes Terestchenko
Senior Manager, Investor Initiatives North America, CDP
TOPIC: CDP Investor Initiatives

 A conversation with Agnes:

Q:  How is your day-to-day work related to the Intro to ESG, Sustainable & Impact Investment Certificate Program to be presented at Baruch?
[AT] CDP is a global coalition of 800-plus institutional investors that give CDP the authority to request disclosure on material environmental information to over 6,000 companies.  Today, CDP has the largest global database of self-disclosed environmental information. Once collected, we give access to the data to investors and the public and encourage investors to engage with companies and to integrate environmental factors into their investment processes

Q:  What can attendees expect to learn from your session?
[AT] Information about the data collected, engagement resources for investors and how investors use environmental data in their investment processes.

Q:  What advice do you have or opportunity that you see for attendees who complete the Certificate Program?
[AT]  Integration of ESG factors into investment process is only at its beginning stages at many institutions, but because of increasing demand from asset owners, the Millennial generation, a growing number of investor coalitions and financial regulators, it will become more mainstream inside the financial world and is something attendees will need to know about.

* * * * * * * *

CAREER BACKGROUND: AGNES TERESTCHENKO
Agnes is Senior Manager, Investor Initiatives at CDP – the Global environmental reporting system. Agnes manages relationships with investor signatories & members for CDP’s Climate, Water, Forests and Carbon Action programs and assists the integration of environmental risk data into ESG & SRI focused approach to investment processes.

She also promotes CDP programs through public-speaking and development of research products leading to thought-leadership in emerging investment themes. After a full career in institutional equity sales at major European brokerage houses, Agnes followed her passion and specialized in ESG integration.

She joined CDP after working on specific projects with ICCR and Domini Social Investments. Agnes is a Certified Financial Analyst (CFA) Charterholder and a member of the steering Sustainable Investing Thought Leadership Group at the New York Society of Securities Analysts (NYSSA).

For more information about the course and how to register, visit: https://intro2esg.eventbrite.com

Meet Jordan Kimmel, Co-Founder & Portfolio Manager, FACTS Asset Management @ #Intro2ESG Training

Presenting at Introduction to ESG, Sustainable & Impact Investment OneDay Training
The How & Why of Applying ESG to Corporate Valuations
Hosted by Zicklin School of Business at Baruch College/CUNY on June 15th

Introduction:  For professionals in the capital markets, and in the corporate sector, G&A Institute and Global Change Associates are teamed to present a one-day professional training program, hosted by Zicklin School of Business at Baruch College/CUNY, in midtown Manhattan.  This is an excellent introduction to the application of ESG factors to investment making decisions and corporate valuations.  Find out more at https://intro2esg.eventbrite.com

ESG = the corporate environmental, social or societal and corporate governance factors to be evaluated by the financial analyst, asset owner, asset manager, and others in the capital markets in looking beyond the financial in selecting public companies for “buy/sell/hold” portfolio management decisions. (This is also referred to as “sustainable investing,” “impact investing,” and similar titles by practitioners.)

The outstanding faculty presenting during the one-day course will include experts in ESG / sustainable / impact investing, covering topics such as best practices; data sources; analytical tools; research resources; methodologies; why ESG matters; and realized outcomes using these approaches to analysis and investment management.

MEET ONE OF YOUR COURSE LEADERS
Jordan Kimmel
Co-Founder & Portfolio Manager, FACTS Asset Management
TOPIC: Integrating ESG Factors into Portfolio Construction

A conversation with Jordan:

Q:  How is your day-to-day work related to the Intro to ESG, Sustainable & Impact Investment Certificate Program to be presented at Baruch?

[JK]  I am a registered investment advisor currently running three strategies for SMAs. They are all based on our FACTS® Framework, which we think of as “ESG 2.0”. The FACTS® screen reduces the Russell 1000 to create a universe of Top 400 having the highest “integrity rank.”  We have identified five (5) financial and non-financial quantitative “indicators” of integrity that go beyond the traditional ESG.

Q:  What can attendees expect to learn from your session?

[JK]  There are different ways to use ESG criteria when building investment portfolios. Not all ESG information and data are created equal.  I’ll explain a bit about the history of our model and how we built it.   And I’ll show how using FACTS enhances returns by attempting to lower volatility and risk.

Q:  What advice do you have or opportunity that you see for attendees who complete the Certificate Program?

[JK]  My top lines:  Customer interest in ESG investing is rapidly growing. Be part of the discussion. Add it to your existing expertise or partner with those who can provide it.

Be concerned with what you invest in going forward. Investment dollars following into more sustainably-run companies will create a virtuous cycle.  You’ll want to understand that.

Be part of a movement to encourage stakeholder management and integrity based investing.

* * * * * * * *

CAREER BACKGROUND: JORDAN KIMMEL
Jordan Kimmel is the co-founder and portfolio manager at FACTS® Asset Management.

Leveraging more than 30 years in the financial services industry – as both a retail broker and a fund/portfolio manager – he is the creator/co-creator of the FACTS® model, a holistic, unbiased quantitative measurement of the “integrity” of over 2,000 public companies.

FACTS® identifies companies with strong leadership, core values and ethical cultures. The strategy blends financial stability with conservative accounting, corporate governance, transparency, and sustainability metrics for the largest and most liquid companies. FACTS® incorporates Jordan’s previous Magnet® model, which has been licensed to leading financial services institutions including John Nuveen & Co.

Jordan’s market insights have been sought by numerous networks — such as CNBC, Fox News and ABC News; he has been quoted extensively by various print and digital outlets such as Forbes and U.S. News & World Report. Also, he is the author of two books, the most recent being “The Magnet Method of Investing” (Wiley 2009).

Jordan earned his M.S. in Urban Policy Sciences and a B.A. in Economics from SUNY at Stony Brook.

For more information about the course and how to register, visit: https://intro2esg.eventbrite.com

Meet Bahar Gidwani, Co-Founder/CEO, CSRHub @ #Intro2ESG Training

Presenting at Introduction to ESG, Sustainable & Impact Investment OneDay Training
The How & Why of Applying ESG to Corporate Valuations
Hosted by Zicklin School of Business at Baruch College/CUNY on June 15th

Introduction:  For professionals in the capital markets, and in the corporate sector, G&A Institute and Global Change Associates are teamed to present a one-day professional training program, hosted by Zicklin School of Business at Baruch College/CUNY, in midtown Manhattan.  This is an excellent introduction to the application of ESG factors to investment making decisions and corporate valuations.  Find out more at https://intro2esg.eventbrite.com

ESG = the corporate environmental, social or societal and corporate governance factors to be evaluated by the financial analyst, asset owner, asset manager, and others in the capital markets in looking beyond the financial in selecting public companies for “buy/sell/hold” portfolio management decisions. (This is also referred to as “sustainable investing,” “impact investing,” and similar titles by practitioners.)

The outstanding faculty presenting during the one-day course will include experts in ESG / sustainable / impact investing, covering topics such as best practices; data sources; analytical tools; research resources; methodologies; why ESG matters; and realized outcomes using these approaches to analysis and investment management.

MEET ONE OF YOUR COURSE LEADERS
Bahar Gidwani
Co-Founder / Chief Executive Officer, CSRHub
TOPIC: Bridging the Gap: Sustainability vs. Profitability

A conversation with Bahar:

Q:  How is your day-to-day work related to the Intro to ESG, Sustainable & Impact Investment Certificate Program to be presented at Baruch?

[BG] We support around 15,000 CSR professionals, more than half of whom are located outside North America.  Our users include sustainability managers, consultant/accountants/lawyers and investment advisors, academics, not-for-profit organizations, journalists, and activists.  We provide these users with aggregated sustainability ratings on more than 17,000 entities—public companies, private companies, government agencies, and not-for-profits.  Most of our users do not have formal training in sustainability.  They have had to learn the contents of your program through experience (and probably by making a fair number of preventable mistakes!).  I believe it will be helpful for your course participants to get a systematic and comprehensive understanding of ESG metrics.

Q:  What can attendees expect to learn from your session?

[BG]  There has been a perception that corporate sustainability is not directly related to corporate profitability.  We have done research that we believe shows there is a relationship between various aspects of sustainability and important drivers of business success.  We will show some of the reasons we believe these relationships have not yet been fully appreciated — and show where further research could be done in the future.  However, there is no direct evidence that ESG factors drive stock market performance.  I would hope to make this distinction clear.

What advice do you have or opportunity that you see for attendees who complete the Certificate Program?
[BG] 
 There is no clear career path yet for sustainability professionals.  While people talk about “Chief Sustainability Officer” roles—very few of them exist in the US.  So, sustainability professionals should be open to incorporating the tools they get from the program into general business practice.  Being aware of sustainability opportunities should help them advance their careers towards analyst and portfolio manager positions.  Once in these positions, they should be able to influence others in investment groups to share their interest in sustainability practice and bring its benefits into their organizations.

* * * * * * * *

CAREER BACKGROUND: BAHAR GIDWANI
Bahar
is Chief Executive Officer of CSRHub, co-founded by him in 2007.  The organization provides CSR and sustainability metrics to corporate managers, professionals and researchers.  These metrics are used to manage ESG, employment and community issues.  There are more than 17,000 companies monitored by CSRHub and the “big data” results are sourced from more than 500 organizations.

Before founding CSRHub, Bahar was CEO of Sonobyte Podcasting Voiceover Services; CEO of Index Stock Imagery; and Vice President, Kidder Peabody & Company.

Bahar holds the MBA-Marketing from Harvard Business School (where he was a Baker Scholar); and a B.A.- Astronomy and Physics from Amherst College.  He holds the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designations (securities analysis) from the CFA Institute (Levels I and II); also, the FSA designation from the Financial and Sustainability Initiative organization.  He is trained in Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) reporting.

For more information about the course and how to register, visit: https://intro2esg.eventbrite.com

Meet Mert Demir, PhD, Director of Research at Weissman Center For International Business, Baruch College, CUNY @ #Intro2ESG Training

Presenting at Introduction to ESG, Sustainable & Impact Investment OneDay Training
The How & Why of Applying ESG to Corporate Valuations
Hosted by Zicklin School of Business at Baruch College/CUNY on June 15th

Introduction:  For professionals in the capital markets, and in the corporate sector, G&A Institute and Global Change Associates are teamed to present a one-day professional training program, hosted by Zicklin School of Business at Baruch College/CUNY, in midtown Manhattan.  This is an excellent introduction to the application of ESG factors to investment making decisions and corporate valuations.  Find out more at https://intro2esg.eventbrite.com

ESG = the corporate environmental, social or societal and corporate governance factors to be evaluated by the financial analyst, asset owner, asset manager, and others in the capital markets in looking beyond the financial in selecting public companies for “buy/sell/hold” portfolio management decisions. (This is also referred to as “sustainable investing,” “impact investing,” and similar titles by practitioners.)

The outstanding faculty presenting during the one-day course will include experts in ESG / sustainable / impact investing, covering topics such as best practices; data sources; analytical tools; research resources; methodologies; why ESG matters; and realized outcomes using these approaches to analysis and investment management.

MEET ONE OF YOUR COURSE LEADERS
Mert Demir, PhD
Director of Research, Weissman Center for International Business, Baruch College/CUNY
TOPIC: About the Baruch CSR-Sustainability Monitor® Project

A conversation with Mert:

Q:   How is your day-to-day work related to the Intro to ESG, Sustainable & Impact Investment Certificate Program to be presented at Baruch?

[MD]  ESG information disclosed by companies through various channels including standalone or integrated reports is subject to considerable variation in content and quality due to their mostly voluntary or discretionary nature, preventing effective comparisons of company performance. This should limit their usefulness for stakeholders looking to make accurate judgments regarding a company’s ESG activities and risks; nevertheless, various stakeholders including investors continue to cite these reports as their primary source of information about the topic.

In the CSR-Sustainability Monitor project, we collect CSR/ESG/Sustainability reports published by the world’s largest organizations and assess the quality and accuracy of the information therein. The Monitor’s data provide an effective tool, which enables stakeholders to more adequately compare and contrast the ESG reports of large corporations across industries, sectors, and countries. The information we collect aids in decision-making, facilitates more accurate analysis of company performance, and hence market valuations.

Q:  What can attendees expect to learn from your session?

[MD] I will try to highlight some prevailing trends in ESG reporting by the world’s largest corporations as the variations in their ESG reporting practices have significant implications for the ESG information collected and used by various stakeholders in their company-related decisions including investment.

Thus, for firms, providing comprehensive and complete information through these reports to their stakeholders is as important, if not more, as providing material and relevant information. While ESG reporting is still an evolving phenomenon and hence limited standardization is commonplace, attendees/stakeholders should be well aware of this fact and not take the information provided by companies for granted.

They should always check to make sure it is relevant, accurate, and credible, and of high quality, which will allow them to gain a better view of the big picture before acting.

Q:  What advice do you have or opportunity that you see for attendees who complete the Certificate Program?

[MD] Our work on the CSR-S Monitor often includes research into industry trends and puts us in contact with industry professionals. We consistently find that corporate interest in CSR issues is at an all-time high and still growing, despite being also a relatively recent phenomenon.

For example, between 2011 and 2015 the percentage of companies on the S&P 500® universe of companies publishing ESG reports jumped from 20% to 81%. This combination of factors means many organizations are going to be trying to start or expand their CSR efforts, but whether they look internal or external to their company they will not have as many qualified candidates as they may for other, more traditional roles.

Essentially, completing the Certificate Program demonstrates a strong interest in a subject that is clearly important to many stakeholders, but still evolving and not widely understood. Overall, this is a situation which is certain to lead to great opportunities for course attendees.

* * * * * * * *

CAREER BACKGROUND: MERT DEMIR, PHD

Mert Demir holds a PhD in Finance and works as the Director of Research in the CSR-Sustainability Monitor Project at the Weissman Center for International Business, Baruch College, CUNY. Demir’s research centers around corporate finance and sustainability. Currently, his research focuses on the roles of corporate responsibility and related disclosure quality on corporate financing decisions and firm valuations. Demir holds a bachelor’s degree in Statistics and an MBA with a concentration in Finance. His academic research has been published in top tier academic journals and presented in several national and international conferences. Demir is also an editor of the Monitor’s annual report.

For more information about the course and how to register, visit: https://intro2esg.eventbrite.com

World Bank & Partners + S&P Dow Jones Indices, & Partners — Rolling Out New Sustainable Investing Approaches for Institutions…

Forward Momentum! — Two new approaches that spell out a-d-v-a-n-c-e-m-e-n-t for sustainable investment: World Bank and S&P Dow Jones Indices (separately) roll out new products and approaches with key partners’ participation.

Despite the nay-saying about climate change, global warming, sustainability and related subjects in certain quarters in the United States, major players in global finance enthusiastically rolled out new products / approaches for institutional customers.

First:  The World Bank, as part of its “SDGs Everyone” initiative has partnered with (initially) institutions in France and Italy for issuance of equity-index bonds that link returns to the performance of 50 companies that “advance global development priorities” as determined by the methodology of Vigeo Eiris Equities.  The bonds are being marketed by BNP Paribas. (Proceeds:  163 million Euros.)

The proceeds will be used to finance projects that help to eliminate poverty and boost shared prosperity, advancing Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that are being adopted by nations around the world.  This is the World Bank and partners “walking the talk” of sustainability and responding practically to the aspirational 2030 SDG goals.

Second:  S&P Dow Jones Indices (“S&P DJI”) created the S&P Green Bond Select Index (for ‘green label” bonds), to “meet strong market demand,” according to the company.  The first licensee is VanEck, to create an Exchange Traded Fund (ETF).   S&P DJI offers more than 100 financial indices to its global capital market customers. (The S&P 500, for example, represents more than 80% of U.S. value of corporate equities and is the most widely used benchmark.

G&A Institute each year monitors and reports on the S&P 500 universe of companies’ reporting on their sustainability journeys.  Watch for our news coming shortly on the latest survey results.

VanEck notes that the market value of “green bonds” was US$82 billion in 2016 and could reach $150 billion in 2017.  Click here for details . There’s also a good introduction to “green bonds” on the web site.

As Sustainable Brands, in reporting on the developments noted…”this could expand sustainability investment and drive it towards the mainstream…”  The details are here for you in our Top Story:

Dow Jones, World Bank Unveil New Financial Tools to Expand Sustainability Investments
(Wednesday – March 15, 2017)
Source: Sustainable Brands – &P Dow Jones Indices (S&P DJI), the world’s leading provider of index-based concepts, data and research, has announced the launch of the S&P Green Bond Select Index which captures the most liquid and tradeable segment of…

The NYT Brings Us Encouraging News in the Swelter of Negative Reports as Sustainability Advocates Consider Possible Changes of Course in the New Year for U.S. Federal Government Policies

Leading Business readership publication focuses attention on the dramatic rise of ESG factors in investing over the past five years in wrap up story…

If you have not yet seen the story by Randall J. Smith that appeared in The New York Times Business Section on December 14th, we urge you to read it now, and to share it with your colleagues. Especially those occupants of the C-suite, board room, investor relations office — this will help to make the important case for ESG / sustainable investing. It’s our Top Story this week and the headline puts things in focus: investors are sharpening their focus on “S” and “E” risks to stocks.

This is a front page, Business Section [Deal Book] wrap-up feature that shares news, commentary and important developments at such organizations as MSCI, Vanguard, TIAA-CREF, Goldman Sachs, Perella Weinberg Partners, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, US SIF, Heron Foundation, Parnassus and other leaders in sustainable investing.

“Investing based on ESG factors has mushroomed in recent years,” author Randall Smith explains, “driven in part by big pension funds and European money managers, trying new ways to evaluate potential investments.”  The article helps those not yet familiar with sustainable investing to understand the increasing momentum in “sustainable” or “ESG” or “sustainable, responsible & impact” investing.

The organization MSCI is in sharp focus in the piece, with Linda-Eling Lee (the firm’s able head of global research) interviewed on the company’s approach to ESG research, ratings, equities indexes, and related work.  At MSCI, the assets managed using ESG approaches is now at $8 billion-plus — that’s triple the 2010 level.  ESG-related risks and opportunities are being closely evaluated as MSCI looks at publicly-traded companies, and as explained by the MSCI head of global research, 6,500 companies are followed by 150 analysts working in 14 global offices.

The recent US SIF survey results are heralded — $8.1 trillion in professionally-managed AUM assets in the U.S.A. are determined using ESG factors in analysis and portfolio management (the big driver is client demand).  The TIAA-CREF Social Choice Equity Fund is at $2.3 billion in assets under management — doubling in the past five years.  MSCI’s ESG indexes are at $3 billion — tripling over the past three years.  Vanguard’s social index fund is at $2.4 billion — quadrupling since 2011.  There’s a new CalSTRS low-carbon portfolio (using an MSCI index) set at $2.5 billion.

This article in the Business Section of a leading American daily newspaper provides an encouraging — and very timely! — look at the momentum that’s been building the capital markets signaling mainstream capital markets uptake and dramatic growth in adoption of ESG strategies and approaches for asset owners and asset managers.

As we suggest, it is a wonderful wrap-up of top-line developments in sustainable investing that also underscores the importance of corporate sustainability to individual institutional investors — and should help to make the investing and business cases for top management.

This news article is of course timely as corporate sustainability and sustainable investing professionals consider the potential changes on the horizon with a new administration and the new congress coming to town with a very different agenda – at least what has been publicly proclaimed to date.  There is clearly momentum in the capital markets for consideration of corporate ESG factors as investment dollars are being allocated.  This is good news heading into 2017 and the probable headwinds sustainability professionals will encounter.

Investors Sharpen Focus on Social and Environmental Risks to Stocks
(December 14, 2016)
Source: New York Times – Investing based on so-called E.S.G. factors has mushroomed in recent years, driven in part by big pension funds and European money managers that are trying new ways to evaluate potential investments. The idea has changed over the last three decades from managers’ simple exclusion from their portfolios of “sin stocks” such as tobacco, alcohol and firearms makers to incorporation of E.S.G. analysis into their stock and bond picks.

The Results Are In: Sustainable, Responsible, Impact Investing by U.S. Asset Managers At All-time High — $8 Trillion!

by Hank Boerner – Chairman & Chief Strategist, G&A Institute

We have an important update for you today: The US SIF Report on “US Sustainable, Responsible and Impact Investing Trends, 2016,” was released this week.

The top line for you today: In the U.S.A., sustainable, responsible and impact (SRI) investing continues to expand — at a rapid and encouraging pace.

As we read the results of 2016 survey report, we kept thinking about the past 30 or so years of what we first knew as “socially responsible,” “faith-based,” “ethical” (and so on) approaches to investing, and that more recently we declared to be sustainable & responsible investing (SRI). And even more recently, adding “Impact Investing”).

At various times over the years we tried to visualize “how” the future would be in practical terms when many more mainstream investors embraced SRI / ESG approaches in their stock analysis and portfolio decision-making.

We’re happy to report that great progress continues to be made. It may at times have seemed to be slow progress for some of our SRI colleagues, especially the hardy pioneers at Domini, Trillium, Calvert, Zevin, Walden, Christian Brothers/CBIS, As You Sow, Neuberger Berman, and other institutions.  But looking over the past three decades, always, in both “up and down” markets, and especially after the 2008 market crash — sustainable, responsible and impact investment gained ground!

And so, we in the U.S. SRI community anxiously look forward to the every-other-year survey of U.S.A. asset owners and managers to measure the breadth and depth of the pool of assets that are managed following ESG methods, SRI approaches, etc.

Here are the key takeaways for you in the just-released survey by the U.S. Forum for Sustainable & Responsible Investment (US SIF), the trade association of the SRI community that has tracked SRI in its survey efforts since 1995-1996, and the US SIF Foundation.

2016 Survey Highlights:

• At the start of 2016, ESG (“environmental/social/governance”) factors were being considered for US$8.72 trillion of professionally-managed assets in the United States of America.

• SRI Market size: that is 20 percent / or $1-in-$5 of all Assets Under Management (AUM) / for all US-domiciled assets under professional management (that is almost $9 Trillion of the total AUM of $40.3 trillion).

• This is a gain of 33% over the total number ($6.572 trillion in AUM) in the previous US SIF survey results at the start of 2014.

• Surveyed for the 2016 report: a total of 447 institutional investors, 300 money (asset) managers, and 1,043 community investment institutions. This can be described as a diverse group of investors seeking to achieve positive impacts through corporate engagement -or- investing with an emphasis on community, sustainability or advancement of women.

Drivers: Client demand is a major driver – the U.S. asset owners hiring asset (money) management firms are increasingly focused on ESG factors for their investments — as responsible fiduciaries.

ESG Criteria: Survey respondents in the investment community had 32 criteria to select from in the survey, including E-S-G and product related activities (ESG funds); they could add ESG criteria used as well.

What is important to the investors surveyed?  The report authors cited responses such as:

• Environmental investment factors — now apply to $7.79 trillion in AUM.
• Climate Change criteria – now shape $1.42 trillion in AUM – 5 times the prior survey number.
• Clean Technology is a consideration for managers of $354 billion in AUM.
• Social Criteria are applied to $7.78 trillion in AUM.
• Governance issues apply to $7.70 trillion in AUM, 2X the prior survey.
• Product specific criteria apply to $1.97 trillion in AUM.

The Social criteria (the “S” in ESG) include conflict risk; equal employment opportunity and diversity; labor and human rights issues.

Product issues include tobacco and alcohol; these were the typically “screened out” stocks in the earlier days of SRI and remain issues for some investors today.

Mutual Funds:
Among the investment vehicles incorporating ESG factors into investment management, the survey found 519 registered investment companies (mutual funds, variable annuity funds, ETFs, closed-end funds). Total: $1.74 trillion in AUM.

Alternative Investment Vehicles:
There were 413 alternate investment vehicles identified as using ESG strategies (including private equity, hedge funds, VCs). Total: $206 billion in AUM.

Institutional Investors:
The biggie in SRI, with $4.72 trillion in AUM, a 17% increase since the start of 2014 (the last survey). These owners include public employee funds; corporations; educational institutions; faith-based investors; healthcare funds; labor union pension funds; not-for-profits; and family offices.

Community Investing:
The survey included results from 1,043 community investing institutions, including credit unions; community development banks; loan funds; VC funds. Total: $122 billion in AUM. (These institutions typically serve low-to-moderate income individuals and communities and include CDFI’s.)

Proxy Activism:
SRI players are active on the corporate proxy front: From 2014 to 2016, 176 institutional investors and 49 money managers file / co-file shareholder resolutions at U.S. public companies focused on environmental (E) or social (S) issues. (The number remains stable over the past four years, the report tells us.) The major development was that where such resolutions received 17% approval from 2007 to 2009, since 2013, 30% of resolutions received 30% or more approval.

Methodologies/Approaches:
There are five primary ESG incorporation strategies cited by US SIF: (1) Analyzing, selecting best-in-class companies, positive choices for the portfolio; (2) negative approaches / exclusionary approaches for certain sectors or industries or products by/for the fiduciary; (3) methods of ESG integration — considering various ESG risks and opportunities; (4) impact or “outcome” investing, intended to generate social (“S) or environmental (“E”) impact along with financial return; (5) selecting sustainability-themed funds of various types.

Commenting on the survey results, US SIF CEO Lisa Woll observed that as the field grows, some growing pains are to be expected. . .with the continuing concern that too often, limited information is disclosed by survey respondents regarding their ESG assets. While the number of owners and managers say that they are using ESG factors, they do not disclose the specific criteria used. (This could be, say, criteria for clean energy consideration, or labor issues of various kinds.)

The US SIF biannual survey effort began in 1996, looking at year-end 1995 SRI assets under management. In that first year, $639 billion in AUM were identified. By the 2010 report, the $3 billion AUM mark was reached. That sum was doubled by the 2014 report.

Year-upon-year, for us the message was clear in the periodic survey results: The center (the pioneering asset owner and management firms) held fast and key players built on their strong foundations; the pioneers were joined by SRI peers and mainstream capital market players on a steady basis (and so the SRI AUM number steadily grew); and investors — individuals, and institutions — saw the value in adopting SRI approaches.

Today, $1-in-$5 in Assets Under [Professional] Management sends a very strong signal of where the capital markets are headed — with or without public sector “enthusiasm” for the journey ahead in 2017 and beyond!

There is a treasury of information for you in the report, which is available at: www.ussif.org.

Congratulations to the US SIF team for their year-long effort in charting the course of SRI in 2015-2016:  CEO Lisa Woll; Project Directors Meg Voorhes of the US SIF Foundation and Joshua Humphreys of Croatan Institute; Research Team members Farzana Hoque of the Foundation and Croatan Institute staff Ophir Bruck, Christi Electris, Kristin Lang, and Andreea Rodinciuc.

2016 survey sponsors included: Wallace Global Fund; Bloomberg LP; JP Morgan Chase & Co.; Calvert Investments; TIAA Global Asset Management; Candriam Investors Group; KKR; MacArthur Foundation; Neuberger Berman; Saturna Capital (and Amana Mutual Funds Trust); Bank of America; BlackRock; CBIS (Catholic Responsible Investing); Community Capital Management Inc.; ImpactUs; Legg Mason Global Asset Management / ClearBridge Investments; Morgan Stanley Institute for Sustainable Investing; Sentinel Investments; Trillium Asset Management; Cerulli Associates; and, Walden Asset Management.

A footnote on terminology: Throughout the survey exercise and reporting, terms used include sustainable, responsible and impact investing; sustainable investing; responsible investing; impact investing; and SRI. These are used interchangeably to describe investment practices.

About US SIF:  This is a three-decade old, Washington-DC-based membership association that advances SRI to ensure that capital markets can drive ESG practices. The mission is to work to rapidly shift investment practices toward sustainability, focusing on long-term investment and the generation of positive social and environmental impacts.  SIF Members are investment management and advisory firms; mutual fund companies; research firms; financial planners and advisors; broker-dealers; non-profit associations; pension funds; foundations; community investment institutions; and other asset owners.

Governance & Accountability Institute is a long-time member organization of the U.S. Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment (US SIF).

As part of the G&A Institute mission, we are committed to assisting more investing and financial professionals learn more about SRI and ESG — especially younger professionals interested in adopting SRI approaches in their work.  G&A is collaborating with Global Change Advisors to present a one-day certification program hosted at Baruch College/CUNY on December 14, 2016.  Details and registration information is at: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/intro-to-corporate-esg-for-investment-finance-professionals-certification-tickets-29052781652

For Finance / Investing Professionals: “ESG” IN FOCUS IN ALL-DAY WORKSHOP Hosted At Baruch College/CUNY – NYC

The interest in sustainable investing continues to rise in the mainstream investment community.  Numerous data & analytics providers, ratings & rankings organizations, and other influentials are busily shaping new approaches in and for the mainstream investment community. Corporate “ESG” factors are an important addition to the ubiquitous Bloomberg terminals, as example (i.e. the ESG Dashboard).  Mainstream asset managers — notably BlackRock, Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, State Street, and others — are putting sustainable investment approaches in place and launching new products for clients that are demanding “investable” vehicles for “doing well and doing good” with their assets.

As an investment professional, are you up to speed on these developments?  Need to “be more in the know” about sustainable investing?  Here’s a suggestion:  plan to attend an all-day workshop hosted at the Newman Vertical Campus of Baruch College/CUNY and presented by Governance & Accountability Institute and Global Change Associates (GCA). Participants will receive a Certificate of Completion from G&A Institute and GCA.

Mark the Date:  Wednesday, December 14, 2016
The course begins at 8 a.m. and features a full day of lectures from leaders in the field of sustainable investing and corporate sustainability. A networking lunch is included. The topics to be covered include:

  • What is Corporate ESG & Why It Really Matters to Shareowners;
  • ESG Analysis, Rating & Research;
  • What Investors Need to Know about the Rising Importance of Impact Investing;
  • The Sustainable Accounting Standards Board (SASB);
  • Case Study of Corporate Malfeasance — the VW Case;
  • ESG Equity Fundamental – Data Analytics;
  • About the Baruch CSR-Sustainability Monitor Project; 
  • and, Looking Beyond Corporate Sustainability & Financial Performance.

Presenters include:  Samuel Block, MSCI; Kate Starr, Flat World Partners; Eric Kane, SASB (Healthcare); Hideki Suzuki, Bloomberg LP; Mert Demir, PhD, Weissman Center at Baruch College.  And, there’ll be presentations by the principal organizers: Peter Fusaro of Global Change Associates; and, Hank Boerner, Chairman, and Louis D. Coppola, EVP (and co-founders) of G&A Institute.

We look forward to seeing you there, at Baruch College in December! 

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER for the workshop & for more information on the course offering.