Weekly News Round-Up: December 8th, 2017

Upcoming Events
 
Webinar: Understanding & Applying Evidence on the Financial Performance of Impact Investments l The Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN), December 12, 2017, 10:30 - 11:30 EST 
  • As institutional investors, among others, begin to explore opportunities in impact investing, they often question the ability of impact investments to generate strong financial returns. On this webinar, co-hosted by the GIIN Research Team and the GIIN Initiative for Institutional Impact Investment, participants will hear key findings from a new report, GIIN Perspectives: Evidence on the Financial Performance of Impact Investments, which synthesizes available data across asset classes, namely private equity, private debt, and real assets, and individual portfolios to address this knowledge gap. Speakers will discuss the implications of this body of research for the industry as well as key considerations in developing a balanced portfolio.
IEN Session + Workshop at the 2018 Foundation Leadership Forum l AGB, January 21-23, 2018, Los Angeles, CA
  • IEN Principal, Tony Cortese will be leading sessions examining mission-aligned investing, and a post-conference peer learning workshop going deeper into all aspects of aligning ESG goals to the foundation’s mission while meeting the financial and advancement requirements of each institution.
Winter Innovation Summit l Sorenson Impact, January 24-26, 2018, Salt Lake City, UT
  • The Winter Innovation Summit is the premier cross-industry event in social impact, innovation, and investing. This year’s Summit will bring together policymakers, funders, nonprofits, and social entrepreneurs to explore the future of social innovation across the globe. Join us for the latest breakthroughs in social impact, innovation, and investing; ski the greatest snow on Earth; and experience the 2018 Sundance Film Festival.
2018 Higher Education Climate Leadership Summit l Second Nature & The Intentional Endowments Network, February 4-6, 2018, Phoenix, AZ
  • Second Nature and the Intentional Endowments Network are pleased to host the 2018 Higher Education Climate Leadership Summit. Join your peers from February 4-6, 2018 in Tempe, Arizona for the largest national gathering of higher education presidents, chancellors, trustees, and other senior leaders committed to accelerating climate solutions. 

8th Annual Practitioners Gathering l Confluence Philanthropy, March 12-15, 2018, Berkeley, CA

  • The Practitioners Gathering is a four-day conference where asset owners and their advisors meet at the cutting edge of mission-related investing. The Gathering represents the most advanced foundations, investment managers, and advisors in impact investing today—and those looking to learn more. Sessions are led by funder-practitioners, investment experts, and other thought leaders.
 
New Reports
 
  • Investment consultants advise on the investment practices of trillions of dollars worldwide. They are a recognized source of authority and knowledge. However, most consultants and their asset owner clients are failing to consider environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues in investment practice – despite a growing evidence base that demonstrates the financial materiality of ESG issues to portfolio value. The report sets out these barriers in detail and identifies a set of preliminary interventions that the PRI will develop over the coming months.
 
 
Sustainable Investing at Endowments and Foundations
 
  • Roy Swan was named director of the Ford Foundation's mission-related investments team, said a foundation news release. It is a new position. In April, the New York-based foundation announced it would be allocating up to $1 billion of its $12 billion endowment to mission-related investments over the next 10 years, with affordable housing in the U.S. and access to financial services in emerging markets serving as two initial areas of focus. Since that time, $40 million has already been allocated, a foundation spokeswoman said in an email. 
  • “Fossil fuel divestment is both ethically and fiscally responsible,” said John A. Lanier, executive director of the Ray C. Anderson Foundation and one of Ray’s five grandchildren. “Investment has consequences, and we intend for our assets to grow by fueling renewable energy and other clean technologies that will combat climate change.” The Foundation believes that divestment is not only ethically responsible, but “also fiscally responsible,” according to a statement. By divesting, the Foundation is not “exposed to the risk of a significant decline in the value of fossil fuel companies.”
 

Sustainable, Responsible, Impact & ESG Investing

 
Bloomberg Briefs l Sustainable Finance
  • This week's Bloomberg Brief highlights how U.S. clean energy developer shares dropped this week as the Senate tax bill threatens to erode the $12 billion tax-equity financing market for wind and solar; Corporate boards are ignoring the risks of sexual harassment says Pax World CEO Joe Keefe; and sustainability disclosure still mostly boilerplate: SASB.
  • This story profiles Brown Advisory - the $1.1 billion manager devoted to sustainable investing strategies.
  • In this article the author discusses some of the reasons she's heard for not talking about gender — and why she thinks talking about gender matters.
  • Regulation is one of the risks that investors should be aware of when investing in environmental-focused listed equities, according to Bruce Jenkyn-Jones, London-based co-head of listed equities and senior portfolio manager at Impax Asset Management.
Impact Investing in Fisheries Evolving Slowly But Surely l Seafood Source
  • A movement in impact investing seeks to fund efforts by improving fisheries management, gathering reliable data, controlling overfishing, and reducing bycatch and waste, all while protecting artisanal fishers from losing their livelihoods.  Projects aimed at these goals have been funded with grants from governments and government-supported organizations, and from private foundations. In the past few years, to bring more capital to the challenge, and create a financially stable business model that is not dependent on unpredictable short-term infusions of grant money, the field of “impact investing for sustainable fisheries” has been developed.
  • For investors, assessing water risk should be part of a disciplined investment regime, says Monika Freyman, Ceres director of investor engagement in water. The Boston-based non-profit organization works with institutional investors to explain environmentally sustainable investments and is launching a “tool kit” to help investors understand their exposure to water risk. After deep discussions with nearly 90 institutional investors (managing $6 trillion) three themes emerged: there was a lack of data and public disclosure regarding water risk, most people were not aware of the problem, as documented by a lack of client demand, and there was no clear method to “invest” in water. The goal of the website and toolkit is not so much to show institutional investors how to invest in water – it is difficult and complex – but rather to illustrate how water risk might impact their individual equity, municipal bond and other private equity exposures.
Investment Manager News
 
  • Aniket Shah was named head of sustainable investing at OppenheimerFunds, spokesman Patrick Phalon said. The position is new. Mr. Shah will work with OppenheimerFunds' portfolio managers and investment strategy specialists to further integrate sustainable investing practices across the firm's business activities. He will report to Sharon French, head of beta solutions.
UBS Poaches for Impact Investing l FI News Asia
  • UBS is bulking up its sustainable money management with several key hires, finews.asia has learned. This article details who the new hires are.
  • Following on from its global offering, BetaShares has launched an exchange-traded fund targeting ASX companies meeting specific sustainability criteria. The BetaShares Australian Sustainability ETF, traded under the ticker code FAIR, screens out ASX stocks engaged in the fossil fuel industry as well as "gambling, tobacco, armaments, uranium and nuclear energy, destruction of valuable environments, animal cruelty, chemicals of concern, mandatory detention of asylum seekers, alcohol, junk foods, pornography, human rights and supply chain concerns and payday lending."
Shareholder Engagement
 
Shareholders Should Help Deliver Decarbonization l Financial Times
  • In this letter to the editor, the author describes how shareholders have powerful levers they can pull; whether through robust dialogue with company directors; voting against directors that fail to act and/or auditors that fail to challenge management on shareholders’ behalf; or publicly speaking out to demand changes to strategy.
General Endowments News
 
The GOP Tax Bill Will Hurt U.S. Universities l Politico
  • TheTax Cut and Jobs Act takes the unprecedented step of taxing the income of certain private universities—specifically, it imposes a 1.4 percent tax on net endowment income for universities with endowments larger than $250,000 per full-time student.
University Endowments in the Crosshairs l Washington Examiner
  • The U.S. has the greatest university system in the world. But it’s expensive. And Congress is about to make matters worse by taxing the endowment earning of “large” private college and university endowments. The latest congressional proposal aims to slap a 1.4 percent excise tax on the net investment income of any private university with an endowment of more than $250,000 per full-time student, about 70 universities.
Texas Endowment Wants ‘Fair and Just’ Fees and Hedge Funds Are Complying l Bloomberg
  • The University of Texas Investment Management Co. is trying to change how its hedge fund managers are paid using a model known as 1-or-30 which charges a 1 percent management fee or 30 percent of performance -- whichever is higher. The plan, begun in recent months, follows a similar effort started last year by the Teacher Retirement System of Texas.
Fossil Fuel Divestment
 
Leading Economists Demand that Not a Penny More Goes to Fossil Fuels l Common Dreams
  • Over 80 world-renowned economists from 20 countries have issued a declaration demanding that not a penny more is spent on fossil fuels production and projects, while encouraging a dramatic increase in investments in renewable energy, ahead of President Macron’s international summit on climate finance. On December 12, two years after the Paris Climate Agreement passed, President Macron of France is presiding over the One World summit, which will focus on the mobilization of climate finance. Unfortunately, despite the promises made two years ago, many governments, public and private financial institutions continue to invest in fossil fuels. These projects are bad for the planet, bad for people, and bad for the economy.
Fossil Free Penn Wraps up a Semester of Activism With no Policy Changes But Plenty of Hope l The Daily Pennsylvanian
  • Three years after its founding, Fossil Free Penn has solidified itself as a campus organization pushing for University divestment from fossil fuels. But despite a diversified array of efforts to sway the administration, Penn has not budged since FFP's launch in 2014. After another rejection of its open letter to the University in June, FFP officially decided to rebrand. The group began the semester with a rally and reached out to the Board of Trustees again. Despite Cohen's reiteration of the University's decision, FFP members have continued to protest at Board of Trustees meetings and focus on expanding the group's membership. 
  • On Wednesday evening, Stanford in Government (SIG) hosted its first Stanford Student Debate Night on the topic of fossil fuel divestment. Representatives from the Stanford College Republicans (SCR) and Fossil Free Stanford (FFS) debated for nearly an hour before answering questions from an audience of over 200. Stanford College Republicans was represented by John Rice-Cameron ’20 and Ben Esposito ’21, while Fossil Free Stanford was represented by Rebecca Behrens ’19 and Justin Wilck ’20.
NYU Divest Halts Demonstration After NYU Administration Reveals They Dropped Investments in Anadarko Petroleum and Noble Energy l NYU Local
  • NYU Divest suspended their occupation of the Bobst executive elevator on Friday evening after it was revealed NYU had already satisfied one of their major demands. As reported by NYU Local, NYU Divest occupied the elevator, demanding that the NYU Board of Trustees divest from Anadarko Petroleum and Noble Energy. But the morning of their protest, Martin Dorph, CFO of NYU, delivered a letter stating that NYU had already dropped these investments.
Fossil Free Notre Dame Prepares Proposal for Office of Investment l The Observer
  • In the past, Fossil Free ND has resorted to standard activism and peaceful protest behavior, such as petitioning and rallying on campus. This proposal, club member and junior Adam Wiechman said, marks a change for the group — which is now working through institutional means and with Notre Dame’s Chief Investment Officer, Scott Malpass. The proposal is still in its final stages, but will be sent to the Investment Office within the next few weeks, Wiechman said. Club member and senior Carolyn Yvellez said the Investment Office holds the ability to help the University take a stronger stance against fossil fuel companies. While the Investment Office abides by investment guidelines from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Yvellez said these guidelines are relatively loose and haven’t been updated recently.
Group Urges Salem State University Divest From Fossil Fuels l North of Boston
  • Salem State University Board of Trustees said no to a five-year plan for fossil fuel divestment, and no to financial divestment from companies involved in fossil fuels extraction, as of Wednesday, Nov. 28. The trustees held their final November meeting - to discuss not just matters of importance to the university - but also issues of fossil fuel divestment.
McGill Association of University Teachers Votes to Divest From Fossil Fuels l McGill Tribune
  • The McGill Association of University Teachers’ (MAUT) Council voted unanimously to divest from fossil fuels, moving approximately $500,000 out of its investment portfolios which include holdings in fossil fuel companies. The MAUT also passed a motion by a vote of 13-3 calling on McGill’s Board of Governors (BoG) to follow suit with the university’s endowment and pension fund.