Monthly Archives : August 2015

Xray

The Necessity of Corporate Sustainability Disclosure

Mark Bateman - August 28, 2015

Let me start with a disclaimer—I’m a researcher, and as a researcher, I need access to information.

On the basis of my disclaimer, you may (correctly) detect a bias on the topic of corporate sustainability disclosure. I’ve long worked for ESG (environmental, social, governance) research firms that take a “values neutral” stance on controversial issues, for example, no expressed belief on climate change, abortion, or firearms. The position of these firms, including ENSOGO Analytics, is that it’s not our values that matter, but the values of our clients.

The one area where my employers have taken a stand and advocated strongly, was on corporate disclosure. We were always “pro disclosure.” As researchers, we rely on information that companies voluntarily disclose. Without it, our clients would have a much smaller foundation upon which to base their decisions.

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Are your clients concerned about Climate Change?

Mark Bateman - August 10, 2015

Climate Change is in the news a lot. Whether it is the Obama Administration’s Clean Power Plan, the recent Papal Encyclical on the Environment, or calls from groups like 350.org for university endowments (and other investors) to divest from fossil fuels, discussions about climate change are pervasive. But how are investors reacting to all these discussions, and what is the role of financial advisors in helping their clients navigate climate change as an investment issue?

Two initiatives demonstrate the view of some major institutional investors regarding climate change. First, in 2003, Ceres, an environmental advocacy organization, convened institutional investors to form a group called the Investor Network on Climate Risk (INCR). INCR now has more than 110 institutional investors with $13 trillion in assets as members. Huge public and private sector investors like the California Public Employee Retirement System (CalPERS) and BlackRock, Inc. are members. INCR and its members have advocated for companies to increase disclosure related to climate change and sustainability, better vehicle fuel economy, and curbing deforestation, all efforts to reduce the material risk they as investors see from climate change.

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ESG Issues Survey—Understanding a Client’s Values

Mark Bateman - August 3, 2015

We’ve all taken surveys, and most of the time the results disappear into the ether, never to be seen again. But at their best, surveys are a tool to help improve a process, and can be particularly useful when the results inform very personal decisions.

Investors wanting to increase their consciousness about investing, may find a survey on environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues to be very helpful. An ESG survey should allow investors to express a combination of absolute stands as well as preferences. For instance, someone might want to avoid all exposure to companies that manufacture tobacco products, but have a preference for lower exposure to companies that manufacture alcohol, but don’t have to exclude all exposure. Similarly, an investor may be concerned about both environment and human rights issues, but place more importance on human rights issues in evaluating their investments.
 
Here is a sample of what a survey could look like:
 
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