Sustainable investment assets grew to $35.3 trillion globally last year amid mounting concerns about societal inequities and climate change. That’s about $1 of every $3 managed globally seeking out a profit from environmental, social and governance concerns, according to Global Sustainable Investment Alliance’s report last month.
It’s an impressive number. But the bulk of that money—some $25 trillion—is in a strategy called “ESG integration,” also known as “ESG consideration.” In theory, this means that managers are including ESG data in their financial models, according to GSIA.
In practice, money managers may be “aware of” and “take into account” ESG factors when making investment decisions, said Rob Du Boff, an analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence. But they’re not necessarily compelled to act on that information, he said.
Nicolette Boele, an executive for policy and standards for the Responsible Investment Association Australasia, agrees that ESG integration doesn’t always translate into action. Unless it’s paired with things like proxy voting and corporate engagement, that alone won’t necessarily “deliver better sustainability outcomes for a better world,” she said.
Many large fund managers are saying they’re integrating ESG across their holdings in a bid to attract assets from pension plans and other investors amid the boom in sustainable investing. Since ESG lacks definitions, it can often mean different things to different people, said Lisa Sachs, who heads Columbia University’s Center on Sustainable Investment. And because ESG integration is often conflated with other responsible investment strategies such as impact investing and negative and positive screening, it’s helping to create a false impression that the world of money management is directing capital towards helping solve societal ills.
“The major risk is that finance is purporting to solve social and environmental problems through ESG and that there’s no need for government action,” Sachs said. “But we need rigorous policy to address the big issues.”
Some regulators are trying. European sustainable investments shrank by $2 trillion between 2018 and 2020 as policymakers tightened the parameters for what can be considered a responsible investment, GSIA said. In March, the EU implemented a set of rules known collectively as the Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation, which require fund managers to classify and disclose the ESG features of their products. Those that promise to actively promote ESG goals have a higher bar to clear on transparency.
In Australia, the finance industry is relying on its own voluntary rules rather than regulators. The Responsible Investment Association Australasia has a certification program and a responsible investment-leaders scorecard that rely on publicly disclosed policies and reporting on processes to help reward responsible investing, according to Boele.
“The requirement of this transparency is key to industry accountability,” she said.
Sustainable finance in brief
- JPMorgan—the world’s largest underwriter of green bonds—is putting the ESG label on derivatives.
- A quant firm adjusted its models for ESG and found some “crazy” pricing.
- Shareholders are calling on the world’s top miner, BHP Group, to abandon its divestment plans in favor of better management.
- Bloomberg Opinion: Biden’s child-care plan may wind up raising costs for parents.
- Bloomberg Opinion: A statewide “stability stipend” under consideration in New Mexico may be a proof of concept for universal basic income.
©2021 Bloomberg L.P.
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Here's why investors like Warren Buffett don't like gold as an investment – CNBC
But not all investors are in love with gold. Warren Buffett has spoken out numerous times on his doubts, calling it an asset with “no utility.”
“It doesn’t produce anything and that’s why from a long-term perspective, it’s a hard asset to invest in,” Odyssey Capital Advisors chief investment officer Jason Snipe said. “It’s prudent portfolio management to have maybe a small allocation there but this is not an asset that you want to be heavily entrenched into if you’re looking for long-term yield.”
Since 2011, the S&P 500 has returned more than 16% on an annualized basis. The annualized return for the 10-year Treasury note sat at just over 2% in that time period. Gold, meanwhile, has fallen slightly over the past 10 years.
“Early on, you see strong performance, strong return or yield from commodities such as gold. Generally, as we move into a different cycle, gold is not as great a performer as we move into a normalized environment,” Snipe said.
Whether gold is an effective hedge against market volatility is also widely debated among experts.
“Gold is not necessarily a perfect hedge against inflation but it can be a strategic hedge against inflation,” according to Suki Cooper, executive director of precious metals research at Standard Chartered Bank.
“Various studies have shown us that if gold is held for 12 to 18 months before inflation takes higher and then it’s held for an additional 12 to 18 months while inflation moves higher, it can be a good inflation hedge,” Cooper said. “But if it’s just bought for a short period, let’s say a month, it may not prove to be an effective inflation hedge.”
Watch the video to find out more about how gold performs as an investment.
Ontario supports investment of $31.5M in Wellington, Perth county businesses – CTV News London
London, Ont. –
Ontario supports $31.5 million surge within the Southwestern Ontario economy with $2.6 million being invested in Wellington County through the Regional Development Program.
The investment by Wellington County manufacturers, which will build on domestic manufacturing is being supported by the Ontario government, will help to create 71 jobs and retain 150 jobs.
“Through the Regional Development Program, our government is making targeted investments in local manufacturers to help them create good, local jobs,” said Vic Fedeli, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade in a statement.
“These projects are making a significant impact in communities and economies across the Wellington County region and Southwestern Ontario by helping to secure the private-sector investment that will support strong regional growth.”
The investments are as follows:
- Weberlane Manufacturing is investing $4.8 million to build a new 115,000 square foot manufacturing facility in Listowel.
- Nieuwland Feed & Supply is investing $16.2 million to consolidate its production facilities as well as build a second feed mill on the property.
- Bold Canine is investing $6.5 million to expand and renovate its facility, purchase equipment, and invest in research and development.
- Wellington Perforated Sheet and Plate is investing $3.9 million to develop new products, and produce more steel parts in-house.
The Regional Development Program for Eastern and Southwestern Ontario was launched by the government in November of 2019.
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