Tag Archive for ‘Socially Responsible Investing’
Many analysts focus on what governments around the world will do to avoid a climate change calamity. Two advocates on climate change issues pose a different question: how will investors and businesses respond to limitations on carbon emissions, or even the likelihood of limitations? And how will they respond when they realize climate change itself threatens their operations and future income opportunities?
A growing number of chief financial officers are increasingly involved in environmental and social initiatives that not long ago were totally divorced from their company’s income statements or balance sheets. At The Walt Disney Company, CFO Jay Rasulo says combining corporate citizenship with financial oversight “allows us to integrate our work in citizenship with the other financial strengths of the company. And if I’m successful in doing that, I believe I’ll actually create even more value for our shareholders.”
Impact investing is an emerging asset class focused on the flow of capital towards companies that align market incentives with scalable impact. In other words, investing in for-profit companies that are making the world a better place. One problem: there is actually very little investment being made, especially for seed and early-stage companies.
“Slow Money” is the name for a movement started by socially conscious investing pioneer and author, Woody Tasch, who essentially borrowed the conceptual framework of “Slow Food”—whereby participants eschew convenience-oriented “fast” foods, instead filling up their plates with traditional, unprocessed and, ideally, locally produced foods—and applied it to personal finance and investing.
A study by analysts at J.P. Morgan concludes that impact investing – which is intended to generate social good as well as financial return – could represent a highly-profitable trillion dollar market over the next decade. “In fact, we believe that impact investing will reveal itself to be one of the most powerful changes within the asset management industry in the years to come,” the study says.
A new study by researchers at Harvard Business School and London Business School concludes that companies which have voluntarily embraced sustainable business cultures with a substantial number of environmental and social policies “significantly outperform their counterparts over the long-term, both in terms of stock market and accounting performance.”
Factors pertaining to ESG (environmental, social and governance) issues are now included in mainstream corporate stock and bond analysis in numerous investment firms, funds and managers globally. Why? Because it provides analysts better insight into companies and a possibility of producing higher investment returns with less risk.
As each headline about corporate malfeasance is juxtaposed against record profits and bonuses, Americans become more jaded about the ethics of today’s business leadership. Many CEOs seem to lack the emotional awareness to deal with their own image problem.
For generations, philanthropy was the exclusive domain of the wealthy and powerful. Many of the great benefactors of the early 20th century made their fortunes from the railroad, steel, and oil industries. How times have changed. Many of today’s entrepreneurs are building their businesses based on the idea of fulfilling a new kind of social contract, one in which organizations voluntarily take responsibility for the “triple bottom line”: people, planet, and profits.
If you’re interested in learning more about investments that help the environment, some of the best resources are available online. In addition to investing web sites and blogs, information is also available from portfolio managers, mutual funds and investment firms that pick stocks according to environmental and social responsibility standards.