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ESG

Credit Markets – The Elephant in the ESG Room

To read the headlines, you could easily be forgiven for thinking that ESG integration in capital markets is now fully underway, as the value of global assets applying environmental, social and governance data to drive investment decisions has soared to $40.5 trillion and now represents more than a third of the $95 trillion equity market in 2020.

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Biden and ESG:

How the new administration might shape the sustainability landscape

With one week until President-Elect Joe Biden takes office, the U.S. is likely in for a major shift in tone at the top. The Trump administration has been marked by a loosening of regulations, both environmental and economic, that have drawn criticism for their negative impact on ESG issues from climate change to social justice. Analysts are already predicting that a Biden presidency will give a substantial boost to ESG investing and many of his early cabinet and advisor picks appear to be ESG-friendly. With the recent runoff election in Georgia adding two Democratic seats to the Senate, giving the…

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The Role of Trade Associations in ESG

  While ESG integration has been widely explored from company, investor, and broader capital market perspectives, there has been less focus on the role of trade associations in ESG integration and their influence on regulation and policy development on ESG issues such as climate change. This research note, prepared by KKS Advisors, shines a light on the role that trade associations play in promoting and inhibiting the integration of ESG in business practices and reporting. It examines the ways that companies currently disclose their trade association memberships and identifies barriers to increased disclosure and transparency. Specifically it makes a case for…

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Sustainability in Capital Markets: A Survey of Current Progress and Practices

In the three years since our 2015 survey on the state of ESG integration in Capital Markets, interest and engagement with ESG in capital markets can truly be said to have gone mainstream. ESG investment products flood the market in almost every investment category, from ETFs to fixed income and alternatives. ESG assets under management now total $30 trillion, up from $23 trillion in 2016 and are projected to grow to $35 trillion by 2020. The first version of this report was published in January 2016, using 2015 data. The report offered a landscape analysis of the mainstream capital market…

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ESG Integration in Investment Management: Myths and Realities

Until very recently, there has been considerable doubt, especially among mainstream investors, that companies with high ESG “scores” could succeed in producing competitive returns for their shareholders. Studies of the last three decades of the 20th century have reported that what was then known as Socially Responsible Investing (or SRI)—an investment approach that worked mainly by screening out the companies with the lowest ESG scores or entire industries such as tobacco and alcohol—produced shareholder returns that were often below market averages. And this finding has in turn contributed to the widespread perception that corporate efforts to address environmental and social…

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Finding the Signal in the Noise

The practice of integrating ESG factors into investment decisions is growing, but are asset managers and owners making the right decisions about which factors to focus on? The answer is, not often enough, despite research by George Serafeim and others at Harvard Business School which concluded that company financial performance is only improved if a given ESG factor or issue is relevant, or material, to that company in its industry peer group. As a growing number of asset owners and asset managers are interested in integrating material ESG factors into their investment decisions. Those not yet involved in the practice…

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Widening Our View of ESG Investing

ESG investing strategies—investing plans that align with a healthy environment, social responsibility, and good governance—are some of the fastest-growing strategies in asset management. According to a report from the US SIF Foundation, US institutional assets invested in ESG strategies reached $8.72 trillion in 2016, up 32.7 percent from 2014. ESG’s appeal isn’t limited to larger investors; ESG mutual funds are among the most talked-about consumer investment products on the market. Approximately $81 billion of environmentally friendly “green bonds” were issued last year, according to data from the Climate Bonds Initiative, providing institutional and retail investors a way to engage in ESG investing….

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Asness and Sorkin Miss the Point When It Comes to ESG

When a leading investment professional like Cliff Asness and a respected journalist like Andrew Ross Sorkin offer their opinions, mainstream investors tend to listen. It’s unfortunate, then, that both these pundits have recently added to the confusion about the impact of ESG on investment returns. More importantly, neither offer any practical insight into how to breakthrough this confusion and how to use ESG as a value driver for both investors and society. In a recent blog post titled “Virtue is its Own Reward: Or, One Man’s Ceiling is Another Man’s Floor,” Asness laid out his argument for why ESG investing…

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Incorporating ESG Considerations into Engagement Practices

Most of the discussion around environmental, social and governance (ESG) investing is about screening out companies that don’t fit specific ESG criteria. But investors who take this approach are missing an opportunity to drive change by engaging directly with companies and pushing for improved sustainability practices. The High Meadows Institute recently published a report that explores the different ways investors can engage with companies and provide evidence that shareholder engagement really works — in terms of both profit and ethics. For the purpose of this report, we examined both private and public engagement practices. Private engagement is the route used most often…

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Deutsche Bank ESG Investing Conference 2016

Earlier this month, High Meadows Institute President Chris Pinney joined colleagues in the corporate and financial sectors to discuss the complexities of climate risk and environmental, social and governance (ESG) investing. Deutsche Bank held its first annual ESG Investing Conference in Boston on November 1st to address the growing impacts climate change and short-termism have on businesses and investors. Hard hitting topics that were discussed throughout the day included the opportunities ESG integration presents investors in uncertain times, what the transition to a clean energy economy could look like for companies and communities, and what the ESG investment space is…

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