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Are financial advisers sharing enough information about responsible investing?

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Investors want greater clarity from their advisers around what RI means and how it can fit their portfolios.Beau Lark

Mutual fund and ETF investors have yet to wholeheartedly adopt a responsible investing (RI) strategy even as interest is rising. Why? Financial experts are often laggards in this space.

The latest investor survey by the Investment Funds Institute of Canada (IFIC) and Pollara Strategic Insights, released in October, found that only one-quarter of investors learned about RI from their financial adviser, which would have been their preferred source. Even fewer, about 15 per cent, learned about it from their financial institution.

Most investors gained RI knowledge by reading about it online or hearing about it in the news, the study revealed.

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When investors received RI information from their advisers, the survey reported that only 15 per cent of mutual fund investors and 19 per cent of ETF investors claimed they got everything they needed. Only about one in 10 investors seeking information about RI said it’s very easy to find.

Canadians have increased awareness and some knowledge about how to invest with environmental, social and governance (ESG) performance in mind. The fact advisers fail to provide information about the topic consistently and thoroughly “is part of the reason for the confusion about responsible investing,” says Lesli Martin, senior vice president with Pollara in Toronto.

The IFIC/Pollara survey noted that only one-fifth of mutual fund investors and one-quarter of ETF investors said their adviser or financial institution had asked them whether they have any interest in RI.

A survey conducted for Franklin Templeton in 2021 by Directions Research identified the top three reasons investors did not hold ESG investments: “I don’t know enough about them,” “I’ve never thought about it,” and “my investment adviser has never discussed it with me.”

Dennis Tew, head of National Sales at Franklin Templeton Canada in Toronto, says ESG came up in every adviser discussion during a cross-country tour earlier this year. And yet, not all advisers have fully embraced the topic.

”Most advisers are still new at it and trying to figure it out. ESG is not integrated in their practices and they take different approaches, such as dealing with it on a one-off basis,” Mr. Tew says.

That’s clear from a 2021 adviser opinion survey by the Responsible Investment Association, which found that while 85 per cent of advisers surveyed were comfortable starting a conversation about ESG investments, their knowledge of the subject was relatively low.

Another reason some advisers and investors have yet to jump on the RI bandwagon is they mistakenly believe they have to give up performance, Mr. Tew says.

There’s a chicken-and-egg phenomenon at play too. While investors want their advisers to share more information about RI, “Advisers will begin to care more about responsible investing when their clients care more,” says Francis D’Andrade, senior vice president and head of sales and marketing at Forstrong Global Asset Management Inc., in Toronto.

Mr. D’Andrade says adviser-investor discussions need greater clarity around what RI is and its effect on a portfolio. When RI emerged, he says the focus was on avoiding sin stocks such as firearms, tobacco, alcohol, gaming and pornography. “The bogeyman was clearly identifiable,” he says.

Today, “ESG is a bigger tent and more nuanced, which makes it harder to define.”

Ms. Martin notes that a high percentage of investors remain uncertain about their RI holdings. Only 18 per cent of mutual funds investors and 27 per cent of ETF investors can positively say they own responsible investments. Around 40 per cent say they don’t, and the rest are not sure.

The majority of Canadians who already own responsible investments are likely to increase the amount of these products in their portfolio over the next few years, the IFIC/Pollara survey found.

With the interest there, Mr. Tew says advisers should be raising ESG in know-your-client conversations and be ready to offer solutions. “ESG is fundamentally important to Canadian investors, even those just learning about it.”

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New Screening Tool Flags 27,000 U.S. Communities for Climate Investment – The Energy Mix

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A new screening tool that prioritizes 27,000 disadvantaged U.S. communities for billions of dollars in federal climate and energy investments is being criticized for leaving out racial makeup—one of the strongest predictors of environmental burden—as a criterion.

“The experiences of Indigenous, Black, Latinx, Asian-American and Pacific Islander, and People of Color in this nation have been predicated along systemic and institutional racism that permeates every aspect of where we live, where we work, where we go to school, and how we experience our daily lives,” wrote the Strong, Prosperous and Resilient Communities Challenge, an environmental justice initiative.

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“Any tool that seeks to reverse and address injustices and deliver benefits to address environmental harms including to public health must account for these truths.”

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Environmental justice was first brought to federal attention in the U.S. by President Bill Clinton in 1994, with an executive order directing agencies to identify and address the disproportionately high and adverse human health or environmental effects of their actions on minority and low-income populations. Federal and state agencies have developed a number of environmental justice mapping tools in the years since [pdf].

The Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool (CEJST), announced by the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), will be used to identify “communities that have faced historic injustices” and ensure “they’re some of the first to see the benefits of climate action,” said CEQ Chair Brenda Mallory. It was developed to address a set of priorities laid out by President Joe Biden at the start of his term.

The CEJST differs from past mapping tools because it’s meant to provide a whole-of government, uniform definition of disadvantaged communities. Through CEJST, census tracts across the country are evaluated based on income, significant pollution exposures, climate risks from flooding and wildfires, lack of indoor plumbing, and lack of access to clean drinking water. Any tract that is above the threshold for three or more indicators is identified as “disadvantaged.”

The Biden administration anticipates using CEQ’s screening tool to advance its Justice40 effort by directing 40% of the funding for climate, clean energy, affordable housing, and other investments to benefit disadvantaged communities, says Bloomberg Law.

Although environmental justice advocates have welcomed the CEJST, they point to some important shortcomings, and the CEQ itself labeled the tool as “version 1.0″ that will be subject to changes and refinements.

“There is more work to do, but this is a positive step in the administration’s work to advance environmental justice for all,” said Richard Moore, co-coordinator of the Los Jardines Institute in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and a co-chair of the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council.

CEQ also cautioned that not all disadvantaged communities can be easily identified in the map, citing migrant workers—who are geographically dispersed—as an example. The CEJST also fails to centre racial demographics in its evaluation of communities, despite the country’s long history of discrimination and redlining that have directly contributed to many of the environmental justice issues the Justice40 program aims to address.

An earlier analysis by Grist found such a strong correlation between race and factors that disadvantage communities that, even without including racial demographics, a beta version of the screening tool could still effectively direct Justice40 funds to communities of colour

That meant the tool’s criteria “are effectively functioning as proxies for race,” Grist wrote. “Race is one of the most potent predictors of pollution burdens,” and “by prioritizing communities with the greatest pollution burdens, it has automatically prioritized communities of colour, as well.”

Administration officials make this same point, adding that a race-neutral approach can sidestep legal challenges. The latest edition of CEJST also includes a methodology update from the beta version that uses redlining data to account for historic underinvestment.

But the changes don’t address concerns raised by critics earlier this summer, who cautioned that failing to include racial demographics neglects legacies of environmental racism and ignores the many communities that are disproportionately polluted, not because they are poor, but because they are non-white, says E&E News.

“Race is the primary predictor of where polluting facilities are sited,” said Peggy Shepard, executive director of New York-based WE ACT for Environmental Justice and co-chair of WHEJAC. “It doesn’t matter what the income of that community is.”

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Abu Dhabi Hosts Annual Investment Meeting May 2023

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ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates — Abu Dhabi will host the 12th edition of the Annual Investment Meeting from 8 to 10 May 2023, which will take place under the theme of “The Investment Paradigm Shift: Future Investment Opportunities to Foster Sustainable Economic Growth, Diversity, and Prosperity”.

At a press conference held today in Abu Dhabi, the announcement of the launch of AIM Global 2023 which is supported by the Ministry of Industry & Advanced Technologies, with the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development (ADDED) as a lead partner was made in the presence of H.E. Dr. Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, Minister of State for Foreign Trade, Vice Chairman of the UAE Industry Development Council and H.E. Mohamed Ali Al Shorafa, Chairman of ADDED.

AIM Global 2023 pillars will discuss the global capital market transformation, ways to improve the flexibility of global supply chains to benefit from growth opportunities, and the Fourth Industrial Revolution & AI technologies in the years to come.

AIM will also address new trends in the current global digital transformation that’s being experienced by developing & developed economies. AIM Global 2023 will feature many sessions & workshops that discuss vital topics, including Future Cities, how to use innovative technologies to address the increasing demands, the business sector’s ability to keep abreast of the fast changes, and the future role of Startups & SMEs.

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H.E. Dr. Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, lauded AIM’s ability to change its activities to keep abreast of the new changes in the global economy and praised AIM Global 2023’s gathering of all investment stakeholders in an effort to overcome the current obstacles to achieve sustainable economic development & prosperity for the world via several paths, including Digitization, Sustainability, Industrialization, and Free Trade.

H.E. Mohamed Ali Al Shorafa said: “We’re pleased to host AIM 2023 in Abu Dhabi, which has established its position as a preferred destination for business & investments due to its proactive, open approach in dealing with changes. AIM is a suitable platform to discuss new trends and ways to deal with changes and developments in the global economic landscape.”

AIM will comprise several features, including the Exhibition, Investment Roundtables, Investment Destinations Presentations, Investment Awards, Startups Awards, Investors Hub and G2G, G2B & B2B Meetings.

*Source: AETOSWire

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AI will continue to attract investment in near future in the healthcare industry

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Artificial intelligence (AI) was seen as one of the top current investment priorities and was thought to continue to attract investment in the healthcare sector in the upcoming two years, according to GlobalData’s latest report ‘Digital Transformation and Emerging Technology in the Healthcare Industry – 2022 Edition’.

In this survey-based report tracker, digital media was prioritised as a top current investment target, with 53% of surveyed respondents confirming that their companies are currently investing in this technology. It was followed by AI, social media and big data (Figure 1). Compared with last year’s data, digital media saw the biggest increase in current investment, up by 22% from last year. AI (+9% from 2021), social media (+8%) and big data (+5%) have also gained since last year, besides trending as very popular technologies for investment priorities for several years. Their combined usage can release synergetic power and potential that could be disruptive to the healthcare sector.

While digital media was selected as the number one current investment target, the percentage of companies investing in this technology is expected to drop by 16% over the next two years. This would likely be due to the current inflation and rising costs, which contribute to a gloomy investment environment. In the next two years, the surveyed healthcare industry professionals believed that their companies will prioritise AI as the main investment target (figure 2).

Having topped the chart as the most attractive investment target since 2018, AI is a rather versatile technology that can be applied in a wide spectrum of processes in the pharmaceutical value chain, making processes faster and more efficient; eventually saving time and labour costs.

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The technology has a multititle of applications; for example, companies like Exscientia are using AI to help their pharmaceutical clients analyse vast data sets to identify potential drug targets in a shorter time. K Health, in its AI-based telehealth app, is using AI and big data to help users access accurate information on their symptoms and connect with physicians; BioSymetrics is using AI and machine learning to provide a platform and models to help pharmaceutical companies to identify targets for drug discovery; while Bayer’s AI-enabled Calantic™ Digital Solutions platform, which combines AI with Cloud computing, is used to provide more structured tasks and more improved workflow, to ease workload and pressure for radiologists.

The new digital era has been driving the uptake of digital technologies. Technologies like AI are expected to bring disruptive power to and revolutionise processes within the healthcare sector. There has been an increasing number of successful AI-use cases in the healthcare industry that support a growing trust in AI. AI’s potential is substantial – not only limited to shortening the time and reducing cost in the drug discovery process, or providing healthcare professionals with faster and more accurate diagnoses.



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