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How to invest for reconciliation – Investment Executive

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“There are ample opportunities for investors to act in support and alignment with reconciliation,” said Katherine Wheatley, program manager with the Reconciliation and Responsible Investment Initiative, a partnership between the Shareholder Association for Research and Education (SHARE) and the National Aboriginal Trust Officers Association (NATOA).

Investors achieved a milestone in April, when SHARE filed a shareholder proposal related to Indigenous reconciliation and inclusion with TMX Group Inc. on behalf of the Atkinson Foundation as part of the Reconciliation and Responsible Investment Initiative.

TMX Group recommended voting for the proposal — the first time a proposal on reconciliation had been endorsed by the board of a Canadian company, according to SHARE. The proposal passed with 98% approval on May 12.

“As shareholders, we are in the early stages of awakening to the power we have nationally,” said Mark Sevestre, president of NATOA. He estimates that Indigenous communities in Canada manage, or could be eligible to manage, approximately $10 billion in funds.

Truth and Reconciliation Call to Action 92 defined reconciliation for corporate Canada by asking it to adopt the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Doing so would involve actions such as ensuring equitable job access for Indigenous peoples and educating staff on Indigenous rights.

“The fact that people wear orange shirts [to raise awareness of residential schools] — that’s nice, but what does that really accomplish?” Sevestre said. “For us, the biggest impact we will have is connecting with investment managers and advisors who don’t think they have anything to do with any of the solutions in this area.”

From risk to opportunity

Indigenous organizations such as the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business (CCAB) have developed metrics and indicators to aid investors interested in reconciliation (more details below).

Historically, companies have tended to look at Indigenous relations as a potential source of liability, Wheatley said, asking questions such as “What do we do if Indigenous people exercise their rights?” or “What if communities don’t agree with this development?”

“We are keen to explore and highlight ways to move beyond that risk lens,” she said. “There are great opportunities to advance economic growth together in ways that are sustainable, inclusive and resonate from the perspectives of Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples.”

In addition to the TMX Group engagement, SHARE has engaged successfully on Indigenous issues with firms such as Sun Life Financial and Great-West Lifeco, Wheatley said. Both companies have agreed to provide additional disclosures on Indigenous relations, and Sun Life has signed up for CCAB’s Progressive Aboriginal Relations (PAR) certification. SHARE was also part of an investor group that influenced Edmonton’s CFL team to change its name to the Elks.

Wheatley attributes these successes to greater awareness of the need for reconciliation and broader disclosure trends around environmental, social and governance metrics.

During shareholder engagements, “one of the responses we’ll get from companies is ‘We didn’t know investors cared about this information,’” Wheatley said. “Things we didn’t use to perceive as highly material to companies’ success are [now] being amalgamated with financial disclosures.”

Representation of Indigenous peoples in the executive suite is becoming increasingly material, Sevestre said.

“‘Indigenizing’ the workforce and having those voices on corporate boards will lead to consideration of Indigenous issues,” Sevestre said. “A lot of the work we’re trying to do is increasing the opportunity for qualified Indigenous people to get into these roles and impact the decisions these companies make.”

For retail investors looking to allocate their funds directly to Indigenous businesses, there are only a few products, such as bonds issued by the First Nations Finance Authority.

Kevin Thomas, CEO of SHARE, said institutional investors’ interest in reconciliation should spur the development of more products for retail investors. Thomas noted the Raven Indigenous Impact Capital Fund, which launched earlier this year, attracted $25 million from institutional investors across Canada and the U.S. by the time it closed on Jan. 31.

Tabatha Bull, president and CEO of CCAB, encouraged institutional investors to consider funds like Raven that invest in Indigenous-led organizations that serve Indigenous communities. For example, Raven-funded OneFeather Mobile Technologies Ltd. launched a digital Indigenous banking app in July. The company also runs an online voting platform that has served 30% of Canada’s First Nations communities.

Investing according to Indigenous values

Sevestre said NATOA’s partnership with SHARE has helped Indigenous communities better understand their responsibilities as shareholders and demand more from their investment managers.

Investment managers may not realize that Indigenous communities could have different priorities. “I’ve had an investment manager say to me, ‘Oh, you’re Indigenous, so you’re against oil.’ Well, some are, some aren’t,” Sevestre said.

However, many Indigenous communities do not want to invest in companies that may infringe on their rights or harm their territories. “Traditional and cultural values need to be included in our investment policies, because what goes into those portfolios needs to be a reflection of the values we hold,” he said.

Several Indigenous communities in North America have done just that.

The Oneida Tribe of Indians of Wisconsin Trust Fund’s investment policy, for example, states that the trust must invest in a manner consistent with Native American values and that it “prefers to invest in companies that make positive contributions to alleviating the problems facing society and the environment.”

The Carcross/Tagish First Nations, meanwhile, include their values of integrity, selflessness, honour, respect, courage and knowledge in the Dáanaa Jíli (Cache) Act, which governs investment and other policies.

Bull said she hopes awareness of and commitment to Indigenous reconciliation continues to gain momentum even after the headlines about atrocities committed against Indigenous peoples begin to dwindle.

“I’m really hopeful that this isn’t going to be a media blitz and then we go back to forgetting about our past,” she said. “Unfortunately, it will be a year of continuing to discover children’s remains. We know they are out there and that [the discoveries are] really just a confirmation, and it’s going to be hard for Indigenous people — but it is going to keep the conversation at the top of our minds.”

The 24-hour Indian Residential Schools Crisis Line, 1-866-925-4419, is available for those who need support.

With files from Mark Burgess

What to look for when investing for reconciliation

PAR certification

The Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business (CCAB) developed the Progressive Aboriginal Relations (PAR) certification in 2001 and has certified more than 150 companies.

“The PAR program is a process and a path to help corporations build their Indigenous inclusion strategy, and to help them move toward their own fulfillment of [Truth and Reconciliation Call to Action] 92,” said Tabatha Bull, president and CEO of CCAB. “My hope is that someday, a listing of TMX companies will also include their PAR certification.”

The PAR program verifies corporate initiatives and outcomes in four key performance areas:

  1. Leadership actions (e.g., policy setting, removing structural barriers)
  2. Employment (e.g., recruitment, retention, advancement)
  3. Business development (e.g., procurement from Indigenous firms, supply chain engagement)
  4. Community relationships (e.g., community investment, engaging with Indigenous stakeholders)

“In just Q1 of this year, we’ve brought on over 25 corporations,” Bull said. Many businesses that joined in the past few years, such as Uber, operate nationally and in urban centres, she added. “That’s a very different story than having to build a relationship with Indigenous communities because you’re impacting their land. [These companies] want to build better relationships and understand how they can do better.”

Companies can be either PAR Committed (taking steps to become certified) or PAR Certified. Certification has three levels: bronze, silver and gold. Gold companies have demonstrated “sustained leadership” to strong relationships with Indigenous stakeholders.

Bank of Montreal and Scotiabank are PAR Gold Certified companies. ATB Financial, CIBC and Sun Life are PAR Committed.

Business and reconciliation

The Reconciliation and Responsible Investment Initiative has released two reports on corporate Canada’s progress in advancing reconciliation. The second report came out in March.

The reports looked at indicators within six main categories:

  1. Diversity policies
  2. Employment and advancement
  3. Contracting and procurement
  4. Training and education
  5. Indigenous rights (e.g., whether the issuer acknowledges the need to seek free, prior and informed consent of Indigenous peoples)
  6. Community investment

The March report looked at 78 issuers’ disclosures from 2019 and found that 26% of companies stated that they prioritize employment of Indigenous people, up from 13% in 2016. The financial sector’s efforts, however, were lacking: “There is considerable space for improving reconciliation-related disclosures, with no more than three of the 13 sampled institutions reporting on any single indicator.”

Investment Executive analyzed the most recent financial and sustainability reports from 20 banks, insurers, asset managers and advisory firms that operate in Canada. Of those, nine identify the percentage of Indigenous employees, with five of those noting goals for Indigenous representation. Nine of the 20 companies mentioned Indigenous community investments and/or Indigenous-focused training programs for their employees.

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Emerging Markets Outlook: Investment is strong, but uncertainty remains – Logistics Management

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The $4.9 trillion global logistics market operates as the backbone of international trade, which grew 272% from 2000 to 2021. Expectations for the global logistics market to grow to $6.55 trillion by 2027, coupled with continued growth in e-commerce and the rebound of contract logistics, has companies looking to reimagine their logistics operating models.

However, companies continue to deal with disruption from the pandemic, which has now been further complicated by the war in Ukraine. In fact, a recent Accenture report found supply chain challenges arising from the pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine could result in a potential €920 billion cumulative loss to gross domestic product (GDP) across the Eurozone by 2023.

Because of these complications, supply chain networks need to be more flexible and efficient while building resilience, relevance and sustainability into the core. Supply chain networks are often more global—not less—with companies using factories that are higher tech, smaller, more numerous, more local, and closer to customers.

As companies build these networks, they’re investing in digital capabilities to enhance service levels and control costs—and they’re also looking to omni-channel fulfillment platforms with dynamic order allocation capabilities to meet ever-changing customer demands.

Transforming with the latest technologies and ensuring resilience and sustainability are embedded throughout these supply chain networks will make companies future-ready and better equipped to managed potential disruptions.

The expansion of emerging markets is an important consideration. As companies look to uncover new channels for growth, they’re continuing investment in emerging markets.

Disruption: Supply chain shocks and the accumulation of disruption

Depending on the length and severity of the war, the cost of supply chain disruption in the Eurozone across 2022-2023 could amount to € 242 billion (2% of GDP) in an ongoing war scenario or € 920 billion
(7.7% of GDP) in an protracted war scenario.

Logistics Breakdowns
• Transportation bottlenecks worsened input shortages and sent costs skyrocketing.
• Continued lockdowns in Chinese ports and war in Ukraine further strain the issue.
• 90% of Ukraine’s wheat exports have halted due to port closures. Ukraine accounts for nearly 10% of global wheat exports. Wheat prices hit record highs, rising 30% in 2021Q1 on previous quarter.

Energy Security 
• Energy markets were already undersupplied before the war given the economic recovery.
• The war in Ukraine has caused further oil and gas price spikes: the price of brent crude oil could peak at 115 USD per barrel in 2022.
• Suppliers are shutting down some operations becauseenergy costs are too high, which creates another wave of input supply shocks.

Lack of Material Supplies
• Resurging demand and initial precautionary hoarding led to inflation and overwhelmed supply chains.
• The concentration of suppliers for critical minerals and food is compounding challenges.
• For example, Russia is one of the largest suppliers of palladium, platinum and diamonds, while Ukraine is the critical supplier for neon gas, agricultural products, and metal ores.

A Tight Talent Market
• Labor and skill shortages plagued most industries.
• The war has created further tension in targeted skills areas like transportation.
•14.5% of the global seafarer workforce are from Russia and the Ukraine.

Thailand

Thailand continues to make large strides in their economic development. Logistics investments have been fast-tracked as the country obtains more market share.

Thailand had previously broken ground in 2021 on mega-projects worth $5.3 billion to improve national infrastructure focused on roads and rail. This is highlighted by a rail line that will better connect six provinces within a 50-mile radius to Bangkok. Supporting urban sprawl in Thailand is now imperative as the people of Thailand continue to prosper despite economic setbacks associated with the pandemic.

In total, Thailand has $60 billion planned in spending to help support The Ministry of Transport’s 40 mega-projects. Year-over-year, Thailand was able to jump three spots up on Agility’s Emerging Markets Logistics Index Top 20.

Vietnam

Although delayed action from policy makers has caused Vietnam to lose logistics market share, despite prime real estate and economic growth, Vietnam is still considered to be an integral part of omni-channel growth and a large contributor to the internet economy.

Vietnam has positioned itself as key player associated in the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region, with e-commerce spend growing 24% year-over-year. As a benefactor in the U.S.-China trade war, as manufacturers are forced to diversify supply chains networks, Vietnam’s core competency is related to labor intensive industries due to their low labor cost.

With 2,030 miles of coastline, Vietnam holds a strategic position for the maritime industry, seeing a 7% growth year-over-year in twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs). Vietnam had started to invest in the growth of a Da Nang mega-port as early as 2016, which has promised to support 27.2M tons by 2030 and 92.5 million tons by 2045.

However, Vietnam is challenged by size constraints driven by underdeveloped infrastructure, as evidenced in dropping three spots on Agility’s Emerging Markets Logistics Index Top 20.

Mexico

Although hit hard by the pandemic in 2020 with an 8.6% economic contraction, Mexico was able to make-up and surpass 2019 GDP ($1.269 billion) in 2021 ($1.285 billion). Despite economic turbulence, Mexico benefits from a strong trade-partnership with the United States as well as a private-backed investment in infrastructure.

Of the $44 billion committed, 33% is planned to go toward transportation projects, including highways, rail, ports and airports through 2024. With a trend of shippers looking to position closer to their customer, Mexico holds the highest forecast compound annual growth rate—tied with India—at 10%.

India

Like Mexico, India is projected to maintain a 10% annual growth rate and maintain Agility’s ranking at No. 2. India Goods and Services Tax, as well as private-sector investment, have been a catalyst for infrastructure improvement since its inception in 2017.

Due to this infusion of money, India has already built 3.5 million miles of roads, second only to the United States. However, India’s National Infrastructure Pipeline (NIP), a $1.2 trillion infrastructure program, will support continued investment.

Logistics related NIP calls to action are 34,000 more miles of road development; a National Rail Plan implemented by 2030 to support a multi-modal transportation solution with the goal of hauling 45% of freight on rail by 2030; and moves to address digital infrastructure to match the growing business demand and provide access to all citizens.

The Indian government is not just prioritizing interconnected transportation infrastructure, but also making a $94 billion investment in sustainability. The Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission aims to deploy solar energy technologies to create favorable conditions for solar manufacturing capability.

Indonesia

Driven by government restrictions on business during the pandemic, logistics business activities have declined 50%, however current GDP growth indicates economic rebound.

The majority of the Indonesian logistics market is driven by transportation, predominantly road freight, accounting for 70% to 80% of total volumes within their borders. However, 90% of Indonesia’s exports are moved via ship.

Indonesia’s Ministry of National Development released a $412 billion infrastructure investment plan in 2019 to address the World Bank’s assessment of a $500 billion infrastructure investment gap in 2017.

Indonesia remains steadfast in its commitment to plan, aiming to finish the Trans-Sumatra Tolls Roads by December of 2022, effectively providing an additional 1,751 miles of roadway to travel on, with a commitment to complete construction of 3,000 more miles. The goal is logistics cost reduction as well as connectedness within the island to support maturing e-commerce market demand.

Malaysia

As ships have grown 2.9 times larger from Post Panamax II to Megamax-24, so must the ports that support their throughput. Malaysia now has two of the three largest ports of all emerging market countries with both ports achieving strong container volume increases in 2021.

Malaysia will look to grow port infrastructure to capture economies of scale driven by larger ships. Stating with a $179 million expansion in 2022 for the Port of Tanjung as well as multi-million, private-sector investment within facilities in Port Klang. The freight and logistics market in the region is expected to continue to grow, registering a 4% increase to CAGR through 2027.

Looking ahead

Through the end of this year and into 2023, shippers will have to continue to break the physical limits of supply chains, enabling organizations to do more with less and meet customers’ growing expectations for order fulfillment in a cost-efficient way.

Emerging themes to watch in the United States

After historic spending on freight in 2021, shippers are starting to reap the benefits of a softening truckload market. The DAT dry van load-to-truck ratio was at 4.57 in April, down 37% month-over-month and 21% year-over-year, with contractual rates surpassing spot rates in March 2022.

For the first time since June 2020, we’re starting to see normalization of route guide tender acceptance and a stabilization on spot market rates.

Shippers and carriers are shifting their concerns to the now historic rise in diesel prices. Truckload carriers and private fleet managers are
continuing to focus on basic operating efficiencies.

This includes, but is not limited to, fuel mileage being reduced by 3%, increase utilization of equipment, and implementation of electric vehicles. The question remains of how to mitigate risks related to energy consumption, which will be a theme in the United States moving forward.

Leveraging capital investment and technology to better support global logistics channels will unlock greater capacity and cost-efficiencies of emerging markets.

As shippers continue to pivot toward more and more emerging markets, supply chains need to be redesigned with economic diversification in mind, as well as sustainability and resilience. Though, keep in mind, global uncertainty and unrest will always affect supply chain networks.

Whether the issues arising are an increase in costs, a shortage of labor, or additional trade barriers, shippers need to quickly pivot to reimagine, build and operate supply chain networks that orchestrate change, simplify life, and positively affect business, society and the planet.

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What is Causing Bitcoin’s Price to Plunge?

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The cryptocurrency industry’s inaugural asset is experiencing one of the biggest downturns in its short history. Bitcoin has recently fallen to its lowest value in the last year-and-a-half. Having peaked at a value of $70,000 per Bitcoin in November 2021, almost $50,000 has been shaved off its value per Bitcoin in the last seven months. As of 15th June 2022, it has been trading at around $21,400 per Bitcoin. What’s happening and why is the Bitcoin crash causing a ripple effect throughout the rest of the crypto scene?

Crypto analysts believe the real-world problems of surging inflation and rising interest rates are having a knock-on effect on crypto values. With stock markets also threatening to enter a bear market, it’s possible that a big reason for the plunge in Bitcoin is that many investors in BTC have chosen to liquidate their positions and stockpile as much cash as possible as a safety net. Despite the difficult backdrop for Bitcoin right now, it’s still an asset that retailers are keen to accept and utilize as part of their cash flow.

In Canada, there are still plenty of businesses and merchants that accept Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies as legitimate forms of payment. For example, in the newly regulated Canadian iGaming market, brands like Bodog make it possible for Bitcoin holders to play casino slots for real money, with deposits permitted in Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Bitcoin SV, Litecoin, Ethereum, and USD Tether. Major Canadian gift card brands like Coincards and CoinGate also permit Bitcoin transactions in exchange for gift cards with the biggest names in retail and e-commerce, namely Amazon and Walmart.

In addition, online travel agents like Travala still accept Bitcoin, with discounts worth up to 40% available to those booking flights and trips with cryptocurrency.

Other crucial developments affecting Bitcoin

In recent days, two of the most prominent names in cryptocurrency trading and investing have experienced severe issues. Binance, the world’s most liquid cryptocurrency exchange, was forced to cease Bitcoin transactions for several hours. The platform attributed this hold-up to a “stuck transaction”, although many have since looked upon this excuse with skepticism.

Additionally, the collapse of decentralized finance (DeFi) platform Celsius has been a dagger in the heart of many in crypto circles. The “extreme market conditions” have raised serious question marks over Celsius’ long-term future, with its liquidity drying up fast. The firm takes cryptocurrency in exchange for annual yields on investor deposits, but if there’s no yield to back this up, the concept folds like a pack of cards.

Is it possible to anticipate a recovery for Bitcoin and crypto?

In truth, Bitcoin and all other cryptocurrencies are entering unchartered territory at present. Consumer and retail investor behaviours are changing as confidence in real-world economies diminish by the day. Analysts insist that extreme caution must be taken to enter the markets right now. With very little historical data to fall back on, the price of Bitcoin remains volatile.

Although there is a general feeling within the cryptocurrency community that a “pump” will return sooner or later, it’s going to take time for demand to outstrip supply once more.

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Rothschilds hires RBC's Graham to run Canadian investment bank – The Globe and Mail

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Rothschild & Co is scaling up its Canadian business, hiring veteran Royal Bank of Canada dealmaker Alex Graham to lead domestic expansion at a global investment bank with a two-century family pedigree.

On Monday, Paris-based Rothschild will announce that Mr. Graham will be its Toronto-based managing director and head of Canada, with a mandate to move beyond the bank’s current focus on advisory work for the mining industry and restructurings. For the past decade, Mr. Graham was head of RBC’s telecom, media and technology group in Canada, then Europe.

“Alex has strong professional roots in Canada and a global network of relationships,” Jimmy Neissa, head of Rothschild, North America, said in a release. “His experience, knowledge and leadership will serve our clients well and further grow our leading franchise in the region.”

Mr. Neissa joined Rothschild in 2016 with a mandate to build its North American operations after spending two decades as New York-based merger and acquisition (M&A) specialist at UBS and Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette, where Mr. Graham also worked. Previously, Mr. Graham also led the diversified industries team for Morgan Stanley in Canada and worked for Citigroup in New York.

Last year, Rothschild ranked sixth among investment banks for M&A in Europe, advising on 464 transaction, and was 15th among North American banks on M&A, working on 220 deals, according to data service Refinitiv. Rival European banks with significant North American operations include Barclays, while Deutsche Bank, Credit Suisse and UBS have scaled back in the region in recent years.

Rothschild is building out its Canadian team at a time when large Canadian companies and fund managers such as pension plans and Brookfield Asset Management Inc. are using international M&A to build their businesses. The investment bank currently has 10 professionals in Canada.

Rothschild plans to hire Canadian financiers with expertise in M&A for banks and financial services businesses, technology, infrastructure and power companies, and link these local bankers with its international expertise, Mr. Graham said.

“With Rothschild’s strong momentum in North America, along with its continued strength and deep bench of expertise in M&A advisory around the world, I’m honored to have the opportunity to lead and continue to grow the business in Canada,” he said in a release.

Prior to becoming an investment banker, Mr. Graham worked in Ottawa as an adviser to Prime Minister John Turner. He holds an MBA from Western University’s Richard Ivey School of Business and an undergraduate degree from Trinity College at the University of Toronto.

Rothschild has deep roots in Canada, serving as the financier that backed development of the massive Churchill Falls power project in Labrador in the 1960s. More recently, former securities lawyers Gar Emerson and Montreal-based investment banker Daniel Labrecque served as country head in Canada.

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