Category: impact investing

ESG’s Russia Test: Trial by Fire or Crash and Burn?



My views on ESG are not a secret. I believe that ESG is, at its core, a feel-good scam that is enriching consultants, measurement services and fund managers, while doing close to nothing for the businesses and investors it claims to help, and even less for society. That judgment may be harsh, but as the Russian hostilities in Ukraine shake up markets, the weakest links in the ESG chain are being exposed, and as the same old rationalizations and excuses get rolled out, I believe that a moment of reckoning is arriving for the concept. If you remain a true believer, I will leave it up to you to decide how much damage has been done to ESG, and what comes next.

The ESG Response To Russia

When Russian troops advanced into Ukraine in late February, the reverberations across markets were immediate. Stock, bond and commodity markets all reacted negatively, and at least initially, there was a flight to safety across the world. Since one of ESG's sales pitches has been that following it’s precepts would insulate companies and investors from the risks emanating from bad corporate behavior, both ESG advocates and critics have looked to its performance in this crisis, to get a measure of its worth. I am not an unbiased observer, but the reactions from ESG defenders to this crisis can be broadly categorized into three groups.

1. The Revisionists

In the last decade, as ESG has grown, I have been awed by the capacity of some (Read more...)

A Visual Guide to 5 Types of Climate Indexes



The following content is sponsored by MSCI.

A Visual Guide to 5 Types of Climate Indexes

If average temperatures continue to rise at their current rate:

  • 10% of the world’s economic value could be lost by 2050
  • A sea level rise of over 8 feet could flood coastal cities
  • 420 million people could be exposed to extreme heat waves

To prevent the worst effects of climate change, climate experts believe we need to drive carbon emissions down to net-zero.

This infographic from MSCI shows five climate indexes that can help align investor portfolios to the goals of the Paris Agreement, mitigate emissions, and reduce fossil fuel exposure.

What is Net-Zero?

Net-zero targets are a clearly marked pathway for companies to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in line with the Paris Agreement.

The Paris Agreement’s goal is to limit global warming to well below 2°C, preferably no more than 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. Investors have a critical role to play in this transition to net-zero.

5 Types of Climate Indexes

First, here are the key metrics used to assess the environmental profile of indexes:

  • Carbon emissions: Based on tons of carbon dioxide across all constituents divided by millions of dollars invested in the index (tons CO2e/$M invested).
  • Carbon intensity: Based on tons of carbon dioxide per $1 million in sales (tons CO2e/$M sales).

Let’s look at five types of climate indexes from MSCI:

1. Climate Paris Aligned Indexes

Objective: Reduce carbon intensity by 50% compared to benchmark, annual decarbonization of (Read more...)

Impact Investing: Building a Better World



The following content is sponsored by BlackRock.

Typically, an investor’s main objective revolves around building wealth and then turning that wealth into an income generator. As a result, financial returns are accepted as the default performance metric.

But what if investing could also address the world’s most pressing social and environmental problems?

More Than Investing

This infographic from BlackRock introduces the concept of impact investing and explains why it can be a force for good.

impact

BlackRock Impact Investing

What Does Positive Impact Look Like?

Impact investing is a sustainable investing approach that combines the intention to generate positive returns with positive, measurable social and environmental outcomes.

To understand what these outcomes actually look like, here are some highlights from the companies that the BlackRock Impact Team invests in.

  • 102,000 GWh of renewable energy generated
  • 11 million metric tons of food waste mitigated
  • 114 million individuals empowered with access to financial services
  • 99 million people given access to clean drinking water
  • 600,000 families given access to affordable housing
  • 1.8 billion patients given access to affordable healthcare

These outcomes were generated in 2020, and help to make our world a better place.

The Three Pillars of Additionality

For impact investing to be an effective strategy, investors must be able to accurately measure the positive outcomes their capital is helping to create. A company may claim to be aligned with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), but its actions may not be making a real world difference.

“Alignment to the SDGs is not enough to (Read more...)

Yieldstreet raises $100M as it mulls going public via SPAC, eyes acquisitions



These days, investing goes way beyond the stock market. And in recent years there’s been a growing number of startups which aim to give more people access to a wider array of investment opportunities. Today, one of those startups has raised a significant round of funding to help it achieve its goals.

Yieldstreet — which provides a platform for making alternative investments in areas like real estate, marine/shipping, legal finance, commercial loans and other opportunities that were previously only open to institutional investors — announced Tuesday that it has raised $100 million in a Series C funding round.

Former E*TRADE CEO Mitch Caplan, of Tarsadia Investments, led the round. Other participants include Alex Brown (a division of Raymond James), Kingfisher Capital, Top Tier Capital Partners and Gaingels. Existing backers Edison Partners, Soros Fund Management, Greenspring Associates, Raine Ventures, Greycroft and Expansion Capital also put money in the round, which brings Yieldstreet’s total raised to $278.5 million since its 2015 inception.

Milind Mehere and Michael Weisz co-founded Yieldstreet with the mission of making investing more inclusive for non-institutional investors. In an interview with TechCrunch, CEO Mehere declined to say at what valuation the Series C was raised other than to say “near unicorn.”

What he did share is that Yieldstreet has funded nearly $1.9 billion on its platform and has about 300,000 consumers signed up on its platform. That’s up from $600 million invested on its platform from more than 100,000 members in February 2019, at the time of its last (Read more...)

Visualized: The Top 5 Questions on Sustainable Investing for Advisers


This post is by Dorothy Neufeld from Visual Capitalist


Sustainable Investing

Visualized: The Top Five Questions on Sustainable Investing

Today, the surge in green investing has been compared to the dot-com boom of the 2000s.

Back then, the internet was anticipated to radically reshape economies. Many companies fell to the wayside, and now 20 years later, tech stocks currently make up roughly 40% of the S&P 500 by market capitalization. Like the dot-com era, green firms are projected to structurally change the way businesses function.

Given the rising interest in green assets, this infographic from MSCI answers the most important questions advisers need answered on sustainable investing.

1. Which type of sustainable investing is right for my client?

First, let’s start with the basics—understanding the terms used to describe sustainable investing:

  • Sustainable investing: An umbrella term that typically refers to all types of sustainable, impact, and environmental, social, and governance (ESG) integration approaches
  • Impact investing: A type of investing approach that generates measurable social or environmental benefits
  • Socially responsible investing (SRI): An investing approach that aligns with an investor’s ethical, religious, or personal values, while actively reducing negative environmental or social consequences
  • ESG integration: Considers material environmental, social, and governance factors to enhance long-term risk adjusted returns through its investment approach
  • Climate investing: Looks to reduce exposure to climate risk, identify low-carbon investment opportunities, or align portfolios with “net-zero” climate targets

Knowing the key terms of the sustainable landscape allows advisers to more accurately address client objectives, goals, and beliefs.

2. How can I start a conversation with clients about (Read more...)

Visualizing the Sustainable ETF Universe


This post is by Dorothy Neufeld from Visual Capitalist


Sustainable ETF Universe

Visualizing the Sustainable ETF Universe

Globally, sustainable exchange-traded fund (ETF) assets hit $150 billion last year, vaulting 25 times higher than in 2015.

Yet despite this growth, sustainable ETFs—baskets of investments that focus on environmental, social and governance issues—account for roughly 5% of the entire ETF universe. What makes up this rapidly growing market? Where are the most common areas for investment?

To answer this question, this infographic from MSCI breaks down the sustainable ETF universe.

Sustainable ETFs: An Overview

By and large, the scope of sustainable ETFs can vary. One sustainable ETF may consist of clean tech companies, and another could focus on sustainable leaders in the S&P 500. Like the broader ETF market, they typically offer low fees.

Overall, the sustainable ETF universe can be broken down into four types of assets.

ETF Asset ClassGlobal Number of ETFsShare of Total
Equity33180.7%
Bond6916.8%
Mixed Assets82.0%
Alternative20.5%

As of Dec. 31, 2020
Source: MSCI LLC ESG Research (Feb, 2021)

Unsurprisingly, the majority of sustainable ETFs are equity ETFs, comprising 81% of the market as of Dec. 31, 2020.

Following equity ETFs are bond ETFs, at nearly 17% of the total universe. One growing subset, known as green bonds, fund environmental projects such as water management and green buildings. Here, debt issuers generate fixed income for investors that target climate objectives.

Meanwhile, there are just eight funds globally, or about 2% of sustainable ETFs, that combine more than one type (Read more...)

ESG Investing: Finding Your Motivation


This post is by Marcus Lu from Visual Capitalist


ESG investing and common motivations

ESG Investing: Finding Your Motivation

Environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors are a set of criteria that can be used to rate companies alongside traditional financial metrics.

Awareness around this practice has risen substantially in recent years, but how can investors determine if it’s a good fit for their portfolio?

To answer this question, MSCI has identified three common motivations for using ESG in one’s portfolio, which have been outlined in the graphic above.

The Three Motivators

According to this research, the three primary motivations for ESG investing are defined as ESG integration, incorporating personal values, and making a positive impact.

These goals are not mutually exclusive, though, and an investor may relate to more than just one.

#1: ESG Integration

This motivation refers to investors who believe that using ESG can improve their portfolio’s long-term results. One way this can be achieved is by investing in companies that have the strongest environmental, social, and governance practices within their industry.

These companies are referred to as “ESG leaders”, while companies at the opposite end of the scale are known as “ESG laggards”. From a social perspective, an ESG leader could be a firm that promotes diversity and inclusion, while an ESG laggard could be a company with a history of labor strikes.

To show how ESG integration may lead to better long-term results, we’ve compared the performance of the MSCI ACWI ESG Leaders Index with its standard counterpart, the MSCI ACWI Index, which represents the full opportunity set of (Read more...)