Weekly News Round-Up: October 19th, 2018

 
Weekly News Round-Up: October 19th, 2018

Please find this week's news round-up below. 

We are thrilled to announce the addition of several high profile speakers to the 2019 Higher Education Climate Leadership Summit, including legendary investor Jeremy Grantham, Mustafa Santiago Ali of the Hip Hop Caucus, and SUNY Chancellor Dr. Kristina M. Johnson. Please join us in Tempe from Feb. 10-12, 2019 and register for the Summit today

Also join us for next week's webinar on Addressing Climate Risk & Investing in a Low-Carbon Future Across Asset Classes, taking place on October 23rd at 1:00 E.T. 

Lastly, IEN is currently hiring a Program Administrator and   Membership Manager. Please help us find exceptional candidates by sharing these descriptions with your networks!

Have a great weekend,
Nicole

 

Nicole Torrico (formerly Harman)
Program Manager, The Intentional Endowments Network
www.intentionalendowments.org

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Sustainable Investing by Institutional Asset Owners

San Francisco Pension System Approves Divestment of Five Fossil Fuel Companies l Chief Investment Officer

  • In one of the first actions of its kind by a US public pension plan, the board of the $25.5 billion San Francisco Employees’ Retirement System (SFERS) has approved divesting the stock of five fossil fuel companies if the corporations don’t agree to reduce oil and gas reserves and transform their business model to address climate change. The five companies, Hess Corp., Apache Corp., Gulfport Energy Corp., QEP Resources Inc., and WPX Energy Inc., would not be divested immediately. Pension investment officials will first attempt to persuade the companies to change their policies as part of the pension system’s “prudently phased divestment plan.”

Canada Pension Plan Investment Board Sustainable Investing Report Highlights Push for Board Effectiveness l CPP Investment Board

  • Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB) is increasing its focus on strengthening corporate governance, with an emphasis on improving the gender composition of investee companies’ boards. In its 11th Report on Sustainable Investing, CPPIB outlines how its Sustainable Investing team added Board Effectiveness as a fifth focus area this year, joining Climate Change, Water, Human Rights and Executive Compensation. The change helps CPPIB better identify and address issues such as gender diversity that are key drivers of value for long-term investors.

Ircantec Unveils Oil and Gas Divestment and Engagement Plan l Investments & Pensions Europe

  • French public sector pension scheme Ircantec is to divest its equity and traditional bond holdings in specialized energy and non-European integrated oil and gas companies, citing climate change concerns. By the end of this year it plans to have divested from traditional corporate bonds issued by oil and gas companies, with the proceeds to be reallocated to green bonds.
 
New Resources

Addressing Climate Risks and Opportunities in the Investment Process l IIGCC

  • This ‘how to’ guide is intended to support asset owner trustees and boards in their deliberations on incorporating climate-related risks and opportunities into board level processes. As a practical tool, the guide provides a series of questions and answers, examples of best practice and useful resources, to support implementation at each step of the investment process.

Going Mainstream: The Future of Impact Investing l Newsweek

  • This report discusses how, over the past decade, a quiet revolution has been taking place in the world of investment; now, ESG investing is going mainstream. At the end of 2016 around a quarter of all professionally managed assets were under ESG investment strategies and our research suggests that figure is only going to grow.
 
Sign On Opportunities

An Opportunity to Shape Future U.S. Capital Markets to Support a Sustainable Society 

Investors with assets totaling more than $5 trillion have petitioned the SEC to develop a comprehensive framework requiring public companies to disclose identified ESG factors that are material to the companies operations. 
Several of our asset manager members and non-profit partners signed as well as professors from the law schools of University of Toledo, Yale University,  the University of Idaho, Georgetown University, Boston University, Wake Forest University and the University of California signed the original petition.

Comments can be posted to rule-comments@sec.gov of a peaper comment letter can also sent. Commenters are encouraged to get letters in before the SEC holds its proxy voting roundtable on November 15th. 

IEN will be submitting its own comments of support which we will post on our sign-on opportunity page as well.

 

2018 Global Investor Statement to Governments on Climate Change

This statement calls on governments to: Achieve the Paris Agreement’s goals; Accelerate private sector investment into the low carbon transition; and Commit to improve climate-related financial reporting. The statement has already been signed by 345 investors managing $30 trillion in assets, and has had significant impact. As well as the statement, you can read an accompanying briefing paper (not for signature) that provides additional information.  The statement was sent to world Governments in September. The final, updated version will be published ahead of the G20 Summit and showcased at COP24. To add your organization’s name to the statement, please complete the short form at this link: https://theinvestoragenda.org/areas-of-impact/policy-advocacy/

 
Sustainable, Responsible, Impact & ESG Investing

ESG Strategies Lengthen Hedge Fund Holding Periods l Financial Times

  • The Alternative Investment Management Association says hedge funds are using ESG principles for a growing proportion of their assets. In May it published a survey of 80 firms globally, which found that just over a tenth, or $59bn, of their combined $550bn under management have been committed to such strategies so far.

Demand Grows for SEC Rule on ESG Disclosure l Pensions & Investments

  • On Oct. 2, a sizable group of institutional investors and asset managers, state treasurers and ESG advocates petitioned the SEC to mandate standardized disclosure of ESG information by publicly traded companies. As the effort to get that information company-by-company becomes increasingly time-consuming for all parties, investors and advocates say that standardized data will provide a better way to review companies' risk management and long-term performance while saving everyone time and trouble.

The IMP Launches Global Network to Mainstream Impact Management l IMP

  • The Impact Management Project (“IMP”) is pleased to announce the launch of a new network, bringing together leading global organizations in an ambitious initiative to provide coherent and end-to-end ‘rules of the road’ for impact management. In an increasingly fragmented landscape of initiatives, this network offers a unique shot at agreeing on standards of practice that might ultimately become generally accepted globally. The IMP network, which launched during the United Nations General Assembly in New York, is an unprecedented collaboration between nine global organizations with complementary areas of expertise.

Friends of the Earth Accuses Ethical Index Provider of ‘Greenwashing’ l Financial Times

  • An influential provider of sustainability indices, used to guide ethical investments, has been accused of greenwashing. Dow Jones Sustainability Indices has been criticized by environmental charity Friends of the Earth for including Golden Agri-Resources, a Singapore-listed palm oil company, in its Asia Pacific index for a second year. DJSI is part of S&P Dow Jones Indices, one of the leading index providers. Such indices influence how trillions of dollars of assets are invested. 

Target-Date Funds Catching the Tailwind of ESG Investing l Pensions & Investments

  • This article highlights how, over the past 12 to 18 months, ESG investment options have become more available in defined contribution plans, but asset growth has been rather limited. That's likely to change — and change quickly — when ESG-based target-date funds become a regular feature on retirement plan fund lineups. “The real watershed moment will come when more and more plans make a fully diversified ESG option available in their plan, specifically a target-date fund,” said Edward Farrington, executive vice president of retirement strategies at Natixis Investment Managers.

Treasurers Demand Zuckerberg Quit as Facebook Chairman l Chief Investment Officer

  • Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg should step down from his additional post as the company’s board chairman, because his dual role gives him too much power, three state treasurers and the New York City comptroller declared Wednesday. The four officials, who oversee public pensions that own Facebook shares, were backing a proposal made in the summer by Trillium Asset Management, a hedge fund that specializes in environmental, social, and governance (ESG) investing. In addition to New York City’s finance chief, treasurers from Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Illinois joined in.

Why Companies Must Manage ESG Risks l Knowledge @ Wharton

  • Companies are increasingly scrutinized on how they manage ESG risks. These could be external risks such as land disputes with indigenous groups, or internal factors such as how well they take care of their employees. Research by Wharton management professor Witold Henisz shows that ESG risks do affect a company’s bottom line. He spoke with Wharton management professor Katherine Klein, who is vice dean of the Wharton Social Impact Initiative, and Sherryl Kuhlman, its managing director. 

Survey Concludes That Only 6% of Affluent Senior Investors are Familiar with ESG Investing l Cision

  • This article explores the results of Crossmark Global Investments recently conducted nation-wide survey of high net worth investors. The survey found a strong correlation between age and familiarity with terms such as values-based, responsible, ESG, socially responsible, and faith-based investing. Specifically, only 40% of senior investors2 are familiar with values-based investing, compared to 84% of millennials3, and only 6% of senior investors are familiar with ESG investing vs. 80% of millennials.
 
Diversity, Equity & Inclusion and Gender Lens Investing
Webinar: Investing to Advance Racial Equity l Cornerstone Capital, October 22, 2018, 1:00 pm ET
  • Wealth inequality among racial and ethnic groups in the United States results from structural racism dating to the beginning of the republic. Investors can contribute to the narrowing of economic disparities through a dedicated emphasis on investing in underserved minority communities. Join Cornerstone Capital Group for a discussion of the issues and some concrete potential solutions. The discussion will draw upon Cornerstone’s recent research report on this topic.
  • For the past few months, IEN's DEI Working Group has been developing ways to support endowments consider issues related to DEI. We have a few activities in the pipeline including a baseline survey of endowments to assess their engagement level with DEI issues, an introductory webinar, and a session on DEI at the upcoming February Higher Education Climate Leadership Summit. If you are interested in participating in the group, please reach out to Kaede Kawauchi at kaede@intentionalendowments.org.

Gender-Equality Investing On Rise l Financial Adviser

  • Gender equality investing is on the rise, but broaching the topic with clients remains a challenge for most financial advisors because it involves discussing values and products that advisors may not be aware of, according to experts at the 6th Annual High Water Women's 2018 Investing for Impact Symposium. “Advisors are overwhelmed and afraid to bring up this topic because they may not know how to answer their client's questions,” said Katherine St. Onge, director of syndication and institutional partnerships with Calvert Impact Capital. “It’s not natural for advisors to ask about their client’s liquidity needs, their financial goals and whether they care about women or the environment in one breath.”
 
General Endowment News

Harvard, MIT, Stanford Endowments Invest in Crypto l Crypto Slate

  • According to a recent report, the endowments of Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University, Dartmouth College, and the University of North Carolina have all invested in one or more cryptoasset funds. While institutional money has not yet flooded the crypto space, investment from such prime endowments could be a sign that a surplus of institutional capital may not be far off.

University of Michigan Regents Candidates Propose Ethics and Transparency Changes l Michigan Radio

  • The two Democrats running for the University of Michigan Board of Regents say the university needs to improve its ethics and transparency practices, and do more to make tuition more affordable. Some of the changes proposed by Paul Brown and Jordan Acker stem from a Detroit Free Press investigation into the university's handling of its endowment funds. The investigation found that many of the funds in which the university invests are connected to top university donors and alumni investment advisors.

Penn Endowment Shows Third Highest Return Rate in Ivy League, After Princeton and Brown l Daily Pennsylvanian

  • The University of Pennsylvania's endowment showed a return of 12.9 percent in the past year, the third-highest in the Ivy League.  Administrators announced the increase at a Board of Trustees meeting late September where Penn Vice President for Finance and Treasurer MaryFrances McCourt lauded it as a "phenomenal return."
 
Investment Firm News

Merseyside Pension Fund Selects FTSE Russell For New Smart Sustainability Index l Mondo Visione

  • This article highlights how the top 5 UK Local Government Pension Scheme have committed to ‘Smart Sustainability’ multi-factor climate index. This global equity index will combine comprehensive factor exposure alongside climate change considerations, and is expected to launch in November 2018 FTSE Russell is collaborating with Merseyside Pension Fund to support the Fund’s Climate Risk Strategy, highlighting a growing trend among asset owners to integrate sustainability and climate considerations into investment strategies.

BlackRock Real Assets 2018 GRESB Results Confirm Commitment to Sustainable Investing l Property Funds World

  • This article highlights how BlackRock Real Assets has been recognized as a leader in sustainable investing by GRESB – the largest global sustainability benchmark for real estate and infrastructure investments covering over USD3.6 trillion of assets worldwide.  

Bill Gates Opens $116 Million EU Green Investment Fund l Bloomberg

  • Breakthrough Energy Ventures, the startup fund founded by billionaire Bill Gates, opened a 100 million euro ($116 million) investment fund to help European companies develop clean technologies. “We need new technologies to avoid the worst impacts of climate change,” Gates said in Brussels, where he met with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker. “Scientists and entrepreneurs who are developing innovations to address climate change need capital to build companies that can deliver those innovations to the global market.”

Bain Capital's New White House Hopeful is Leading its Impact Investing Charge l Pitchbook

  • This article explores how  a current Bain Capital executive has emerged as a potential candidate to run for president in 2020 —discussing his track record of investments, and how it compares to former presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
 
Climate Risk, Science & Regulation

To Curb Climate Change, Tax Carbon —Then Give Americans The Money l Wired

  • Most voters want the government to limit carbon emissions, but at a time when half of all Americans own less than $500 in savings, climate ranks low on their priority list. This article discusses a proposal to divvy out cash to Americans in support of a low-carbon future. The guiding principle is that all revenue from a national carbon tax should be rebated directly to the American people in the form of equal cash "dividends," distributed on a quarterly basis. If passed, the plan would enable the United States to not only meet, but exceed its commitment under the Paris Climate Agreement.

‘Hyperalarming’ Study Shows Massive Insect Loss l Washington Post

  • Insects around the world are in a crisis, according to a small but growing number of long-term studies showing dramatic declines in invertebrate populations. A new report suggests that the problem is more widespread than scientists realized. Huge numbers of bugs have been lost in a pristine national forest in Puerto Rico, the study found, and the forest’s insect-eating animals have gone missing, too.

Enhancing Banks’ and Insurers’ Approaches to Managing the Financial Risks From Climate Change l Bank of England

  • In this consultation paper, the Prudential Regulation Authority seeks views on a draft supervisory statement on banks’ and insurers’ approaches to managing the financial risks from climate change.

Bet on Carbon Capture (But Not Only on Carbon Capture) l Bloomberg

  • According to the author of this article, it’s past time to start investing in technology to suck carbon out of the atmosphere — at the source of carbon emissions, and, ultimately, directly from the air. There have been enough small-scale demonstrations that show so-called carbon capture can work, and enough independent reports showing that we can’t avoid dangerous global warming without it. The technology won’t go far without government help: subsidies, infrastructure investments and policy changes that would make carbon capture schemes potentially profitable.
 
Fossil Fuel Divestment

Report: DiNapoli Cost New York Pension Fund $22 Billion l Yonkers Times

  • The New York State Common Retirement Fund could have been $22 billion richer if the fund divested its fossil fuels stocks 10 years ago, according to a new analysis released by research and media firm Corporate Knights. To determine the financial impact of fossil fuel divestment for the NYSCRF, Corporate Knights retrieved the fund’s stock holdings, weights and valuations for each of the past 10 years. It then used this publicly disclosed information to compare the actual investment returns of NYSCRF’s equity portfolio with those of a fossil-fuel-free version (no oil, gas or coal stocks), and accounted for net outflows arising from member contributions and pension retirement payments.

Middlebury Considers Fossil Fuel Divestment l VT Digger

  • Middlebury College is once again considering divesting its endowment from fossil fuels. In an email sent to the school’s students, faculty, and staff, Middlebury president Laurie Patton wrote this week that the college’s board of trustees would, over the course of the year, “review and announce a set of actions” to advance the school’s environmental commitments, including working with the school’s endowment manager to “address the composition of our endowment with respect to fossil fuels.”

Duke Student Goverment Senate Unanimously Passes Resolution Calling for Duke to Divest From Fossil Fuel Investments l Duke Chronicle

  • Duke Student Government Senate voted unanimously at its Wednesday meeting to pass a resolution calling for the University's endowment to be divested from fossil fuels by 2024. The resolution states that the Senate supports a potential resolution from the Advisory Committee on Investment Responsibility, which calls on the Board of Trustees to commit to “divesting the Duke University endowment as well as all other assets from fossil fuels, with total divestment completed by Jan. 1, 2024." 
Job Opportunities at IEN

Program Administrator

  • The Program Administrator will be a key member of the team and will support the management and growth of IEN. The Program Administrator will include but are not limited to managing calendars and scheduling appointments, helping coordinate events and meetings, assisting with email communication and task prioritization for managers, collaborating with other IEN team members to support communications and marketing, and researching topics and contribute to writing reports related to sustainable investing at college and university endowments.

Membership Manager

  • The Membership Manager will be a key member of the team and will lead in the strategy development, management, and growth of IEN’s membership. The position encompasses leading both network growth (new members) and network engagement (current members) through outreach and relationship management and strategy development.
 
 
Calendar of Upcoming Events

Webinar: Investing to Advance Racial Equity l Cornerstone Capital, October 22, 2018, 1:00 pm ET

Webinar: Addressing Climate Risk & Investing in a Low-Carbon Future Across Asset Classes l Intentional Endowments Network, October 23rd, 2018 1:00 p.m. ET

Ethical Finance 2018 | Responsible Investor, UKIFC, Scottish Government, UNDP, and RBS, October 22-23, 2018, Edinburgh, Scotland

The 29th Annual SRI Conference l November 1-3, 2018, Colorado Springs, CO

Endowment & Foundation Forum 2018 l Opal Group, November 13, 2018

RI Americas l Responsible Investor, December 5-6, 2018

2019 Foundation Leadership Forum l AGB, January 27-29, 2019, Fort Lauderdale, FL

2019 Higher Education Climate Leadership Summit | February 10-12, 2019, Tempe, AZ

2019 Endowment and Debt Management Forum l NACUBO, February 13-15, 2019, New York, NY

 

 

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