Sustainable investing promotes the dual objectives of acknowledging the financial implications of sustainability risks in portfolios and also recognizing an increasing interest on behalf of stakeholders in promoting and achieving socially beneficial goals generally and positive environmental outcomes more specifically. Regardless of how one quantifies sustainable investing, it appears to be reaching a critical juncture.
In this paper, Henry Shilling and I propose three key standard setting recommendations for consideration and debate to address sector concerns and challenges that have recently arisen. The sector concerns and challenges have been amplified in the light of the dramatic growth (447% over a five quarter period ending March 31, 2020) in the number as well as assets sourced to sustainable investment mutual funds and ETFs in the United States.
The sustainable investing recommendations that we propose include the adoption of standardized definitions, creation of an accepted mutual fund/ETF product classification framework and closure of a disclosure gap.
Henry Shilling and I wrote our first paper to examine the components of the recent asset growth reported in the sustainable investment marketplace and how investment advisors and investors should think more critically about the newly created products occupying this space.
We wrote this second paper to acknowledge this new era of rapid growth and the number of challenges and concerns regarding sustainable investing terminology, lack product clarity and variation in disclosure practices that currently exists.
We define the term “fund re-branding” and examine the reasons for the recent exponential increase in the number of fund re-brandings in the United States and the challenges and opportunities it presents for professional advisors and investors in building sustainable investment portfolios.
When Henry Shilling and I first learned of the unbelievable sustainable investment growth numbers recently reported, we were elated. It was magical to think that one out of every four dollars invested professionally in the United States were being managed in a sustainable way.
As these growth numbers began to get rapidly repeated and reinforced by news sources, industry conferences and writings, we paused and then sensed that something did not feel right. Was this truly growth that we had been experiencing in the impact investment space or was it something else?
Henry and I wrote this paper to examine the components of the recent asset growth reported in the sustainable investment marketplace and how investment advisors and investors should think more critically about the newly created products occupying this space.
Due to the growing number of investors that have expressed an interest in impact and ESG investing but are unsure of how to implement a program of such investments, Jeremy Bach and I have recently written a paper titled “Seven Key Impact Investment Questions Every Investor Should Ask”. This paper provides a series of questions designed to help investors navigate the sustainable investment space in the context of their overall investment program.
We recently had the opportunity to work with the 17 Asset Management research team in writing a report on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The report is how intentionality can spur institutional investors to channel capital towards impact-focused opportunities.