A Case for Impact Investing in Public Equities

As awareness around environmental and social issues has grown, so has the number of investors who deliberately seek to allocate capital to create positive social and environmental impact. Impact investing is as old as the sustainable investment industry, with the bulk of strategies to date having been executed through private equity and debt vehicles. However, as a more diversified pool of investors look to adopt impact investing strategies, fueled by the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris Climate Agreement, a broader set of asset classes are being considered – here enters public equities.

Sustainable Finance and the EU Taxonomy: Developments from the Trilateral Negotiations

As global leaders meet in Madrid for the COP25 amid mounting concern over the international response to climate change, the EU Taxonomy experienced a setback with the UK and France blocking the plans. The new framework, intended to drive financial flows that will accelerate the shift to a low carbon future, will likely become a global standard affecting investors around the world. If enacted, it could cement the EU’s position as the world’s pace setter on climate legislation.

Revising Mining Codes: Equality for Nations or Nationalization?

In recent years, an increasing number of nations, particularly in Africa, have been amending their mining codes. Governments likely view these amendments as a way of getting more for their people from their natural resources. But are these amendments slowly leading to the nationalization of the sector in some of these countries and how are the companies reacting?

Cybersecurity: A Pervasive Risk

In 2017, in the wake of the WannaCry ransomware attack, we argued that the event should be seen as a cybersecurity wake up call. Since then, cybersecurity risks have remained a source of uncertainty for most companies, driven by the increasing intensity, both in volume and impact, of cyberattacks. These risks are compounded by the continuous expansion of critical infrastructure (energy grids, utilities, hospitals) to digital platforms and the breadth of sensitive information that is housed in online servers. As a result, the pool of lucrative targets for malicious actors continues to grow. This is reflected in the notable rise in the number cyber insurance claims. According to a study by AIG, 2018 had the same number of cyber insurance claims as the preceding two years combined.[i]

The Opioid Crisis and the Continued Uncertainty for Affected Companies

As the first National Prescription Opiates Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) cases are set to get underway in late October, we take a closer look company involvement in U.S. opioid crisis and how it has evolved since our first article on the topic in 2017. We also provide an overview of how the ESG risks highlighted in our initial article have materialized over the last two fiscal years (FY2018 and FY2019) for the companies involved.

Children’s Rights – the smallest things can have the biggest impact

Imagine there was a stakeholder group that formed a third of the global population and was pertinent to business in various ways: as customers, as employees’ family members, and as key participants in local communities and in society at large. These people would be guaranteed to run the world in the future. Almost everyone would know and be related to representatives of this network, and many would consider them the most important people in their lives. You would expect companies and investors to assess the impact they have on these powerful influencers and try to capitalise on the related opportunities, but that is rarely the case. This is because the group I’m talking about is children. When it comes to incorporating children’s rights and needs into business and investment strategies, there is still a long way to go given their number and potential.

The Impact of Country ESG Risks on Company Operations

In this article we explore how operating in Peru affects the world’s second largest mining producer of precious metals, Barrick Gold. Based on analysis from our recently launched Country Risk Ratings, we discuss how the challenges facing Barrick’s mining operations in Peru are strongly influenced by the country’s ESG risks.

Emerging market equities, ESG risk and sector tilts

The International Monetary Fund’s (IMF’s) recent downward revision to its projections of near-term global expansion reflects growing concerns about brewing market tensions. Central issues affecting capital markets include trade disputes between the US and China, Brexit and subdued investment and demand for consumer durables. According to the IMF’s latest outlook, global real GDP will grow 3.2% in 2019 and 3.5% in 2020 – a downgrade of 10 basis points (bps) for each year compared to the IMF’s previous outlook last April.[i]

China’s Millennials and ESG

A country’s demographics has a strong influence on long-term social trends, including the development of ESG issues. With millennials becoming the dominant cohort among the workforce and consumers, we are witnessing the social transformations that come with a new generation. Although occurring globally, these transformations are particularly dramatic in China, due to the contrasting social environments experienced by China’s millennials and their parents.

The role of technology companies in technology addiction

As personal technology and social media platforms become ubiquitous in our personal and professional lives, we explore the role played by technology companies in technology addiction. The term ‘technology addiction’ is a catch-all phrase typically used to describe frequent and compulsive internet, smartphone, gaming and social media use.

ESG Ratings: A Rebuttal of Prevailing Criticisms

“No offence, but…”. This has become a common introduction to questions directed at environment, social and governance (ESG) rating providers and reflects a body of criticism centered on the premise that ESG research and ratings are fundamentally flawed.

Controversial Weapons: Regulatory Landscape and Best Practices

Since the beginning of modern warfare in the 20th century, we have witnessed the development of weapon types that have a severe, disproportionate and indiscriminate impact on civilians, even years after a conflict has ended. Over the past decades, several protest movements have attempted to halt and ban the production of specific, controversial weapon types, and many countries have adopted international conventions to this effect. More recently, some financial institutions have begun to restrict or exclude financing of companies with involvement in certain weapons. This article explores what investors can do, beyond existing legal frameworks, with respect to controversial weapons.

Point of Sale Financing: Inclusive for all?

What is Point of Sale Financing? Point of sale financing (PSF) is a relatively new financial product that has garnered significant interest from consumers, retailers and financial institutions. It provides financing to markets that were previously underserviced by conventional financial products but can also be a gateway to impulsive spending and poor financial choices if not managed properly. This article provides a brief overview of PSF, the pros and cons for consumers, a comparison of PSF with conventional lending vehicles and a sector review looking at policies addressing financial inclusion.

Can Italian Banks Avoid Another Financial Crisis?

Italy is the birthplace of the accounting and credit systems and is home to some of the world’s oldest banks. Despite this legacy, poor lending decisions in the past decade and a high number of non-performing loans (NPLs) is putting the Italian banking sector at risk. This article will explore the connection between responsible product marketing practices and the financial stability of Italian banks by analyzing Sustainalytics’ ESG data.

Passive ESG Investing: Q4 2018 Sample Portfolio Analysis

The global equities market experienced substantial growth over the first quarter of 2019 as the FTSE All-World (AW) index returned 12.5%. But this growth spurt comes on the tail of a significant selloff during the preceding quarter; the total return of the FTSE AW over Q4 2018 sunk to -12.6%.[i]

How will ESG investing fare in a volatile or bear market?

Much has been written about the rise of responsible investing and environment, social and governance (ESG) integration over the past decade. From 2014 to 2016, assets that systematically considered ESG factors in the investment process grew from USD 7.5 trillion to USD 10.4 trillion, with continued momentum over the past several years[i]. However, recent commitments to ESG integration (vs. values-based strategies) have yet to be tested by a significant market downturn. The spike in market volatility experienced in late 2018 has led some to question whether the consideration of ESG factors by investors will continue to flourish in a market environment characterized by investor fear and valuation corrections.

Huawei and Beyond: Increasing Scrutiny of China’s Technology Sector

In December 2018, Canadian authorities arrested Meng Wanzhou, based on a U.S. extradition request. Ms. Wanzhou is the CFO of Huawei, the world’s largest telecom equipment provider and third largest mobile phone manufacturer. In January 2019, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) charged Huawei and Meng with 23 counts of fraud related to alleged breaches of U.S. sanctions and trade secret theft.

Slavery in the Seafood Industry

On January 30, 2019[i], Thailand became the first Asian country to ratify the International Labor Organization’s (ILO) Working in Fishing Convention (C188). This comes after years of criticism over illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUU) and findings of slavery and human trafficking within its fishing industry.

The Democratic Republic of the Congo – Presidential elections and mining, what’s next?

Updated March 4th, 2019 On the December 30th 2018, presidential elections finally took place in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the first “democratic” elections in the country’s history. A peaceful transition of power in the region is of particular significance to the mining and renewable energy sectors. The DRC produced an estimated 58 per cent of the world’s cobalt in 2018, an essential element in battery technology. Any political instability or collapse into violence after the elections could restrict cobalt supply and potentially drive up the cost of batteries.

10 ESG Themes to Watch in 2019

This year’s instalment of our 10 for series – 10 for 2019: Systemic Risks Loom Large – explores 10 environmental, social and governance (ESG) themes that could affect global investment portfolios in 2019.