Weekly News Round-Up: January 19th, 2018

Weekly News Round-Up: January 19th, 2018

Below please find this week's news round-up.

Making headlines this week and explored in several stories below was BlackRock's Annual Letter to CEOs, calling on corporations to find a purpose in society or risk losing support from shareholders. 

The 2018 Higher Education Climate Leadership is only two weeks away (Feb. 4-6 in Tempe, AZ), and if you haven't already, there is still time to register!

Also be sure to register for our webinar with ICCR leaders on The Investor Case for Human Rights next week, on January 24th.

Have a great weekend,


Program Manager
The Intentional Endowments Network

New Reports

The State of Green Business, 2018 l Green Biz

The Business of Planting Trees l The Nature Conservancy & The World Resources Institute

  • A new report launched this week finds that restoring degraded land is not only good for the planet, it’s also a good investment opportunity as well. Through the analysis of 140 restoration-focused businesses in eight countries and four continents, The Business of Planting Trees shows that the economic benefits of restoring land are estimated at $84 billion per year and deliver a range of financial returns.
Sustainable, Responsible, Impact & ESG Investing

BlackRock’s Message: Contribute to Society, or Risk Losing Our Support l The New York Times

  • This week, the chief executives of the world’s largest public companies received a letter from one of the most influential investors in the world. Laurence D. Fink, founder and chief executive of the investment firm BlackRock, is going to inform business leaders that their companies need to do more than make profits — they need to contribute to society as well if they want to receive the support of BlackRock.

From BlackRock With Love to Aimless CEOs l Barron's

  • Larry Fink, CEO of BlackRock, called on corporations to find a purpose in society or risk losing support from shareholders. In Fink's annual letter to CEOs, he wrote: "Without a sense of purpose, no company, either public or private, can achieve its full potential. It will ultimately lose the license to operate from key stakeholders. It will succumb to short-term pressures to distribute earnings, and, in the process, sacrifice investments in employee development, innovation, and capital expenditures that are necessary for long-term growth."

CalSTRS’ Ailman Gives BlackRock’s Fink an “Ovation” l Chief Investment Officer

  • BlackRock CEO Fink’s annual letter to CEO's rang true to Christopher J. Ailman, CIO of the $221 billion CalSTRS. “As always, Larry is a thoughtful leader and [I applaud with a standing ovation] his focus on corporate governance engagement and board diversity,” Ailman told CIO.  “It is very much in line with CalSTRS’ own philosophy as patient, long-term capital investors with a large passive equity portfolio.”

Bloomberg Brief l Sustainable Finance

  • This week's Bloomberg Brief highlights how BlackRock CEO Larry Fink offered a new model of shareholder engagement; Global clean energy investment in 2017 topped $333.5 billion; and impact investing in Native American communities.

CFP Board's New Gender Diversity Maven Takes Aim at Gender Gap l Financial Planning

  • More women are earning official financial planning credentials, but they still make up less than one-in-four CFP professionals. That’s a ratio Kathleen McQuiggan, an industry veteran, wants to nudge quite a bit higher. The CFP Board announced it has appointed McQuiggan to serve as a special advisor on gender diversity, a leadership role overseeing the board's Women's Initiative.

The Convergence of Digitalization and Sustainability l MIT Sloan Management Review

  • Digitalization and sustainability are two of the most powerful market influences in today’s corporate landscape. This article explores examples of these two trends converging within the organization abound, from clean technologies to greening production processes to transforming a company’s brand equity as a sustainable company. 


Shareholder Engagement

10 Minutes with Tim Smith, Walden Asset Management l Green Biz

  • This reoccurring column highlights leaders in the sustainability field. In this segment, Tim Smith, director of ESG Shareowner Engagement at Walden Asset Management is interviewed. Tim previously served for 24 years as Executive Director of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility.

Shareholders Press Twitter, Facebook on Sexual Harassment l Bloomberg

  • Arjuna Capital and the New York State Common Retirement Fund announced Thursday they had co-filed shareholder resolutions asking FAcebook and Twitter to produce a “detailed report on the scope of sexual harassment on their platforms and the remedies either in place or already contemplated for the future.” The resolutions, aimed at the companies’ annual shareholder meetings later this year, also address the topics of fake news, election interference, violence and hate speech.
Investment Manager News

Putnam Investments to Form Two Funds to Pursue ESG Investment Strategies l Business Wire

  • Putnam Investments announced this week plans to offer two funds with dedicated ESG strategies to the marketplace toward the end of Q1 2018, pending SEC staff review. The new funds, to be named Putnam Sustainable Leaders Fund and Putnam Sustainable Future Fund, will bring two distinct investment lenses to identify opportunities driven by corporate sustainability practices and solutions, respectively.

Fidelity Hires Head of Stewardship and Sustainable Investing l City Wire Selector

  • Fidelity International has bolstered its sustainable investing remit by hiring Michael Gibb as its new head of stewardship and sustainable investing. In the newly-created role, Gibb will oversee Fidelity’s strategy and policies on engagement, voting and ESG integration across its active product range.

First State Investments Launches Sustainable Listed Infrastructure Fund l FTSE Global Markets

  • First State Investments (UK) has launched the First State Sustainable Listed Infrastructure Fund, as part of its Dublin-domiciled Fund range. The new fund is designed to meet growing demand for inflation-protected income and capital growth offered by listed infrastructure that also meets sustainability criteria.

Nushares ETFs Rank Companies Based On ESG Momentum l Forbes

  • Martin Kremenstein, Senior Managing Director, Head of Retirement Products and ETFs at Nuveen Investments sat down with Julie Cooling, Founder & CEO, RIA Channel to discuss Nuveen’s launch into the ETF business they’re calling Nushares.

Cornerstone Capital Nears $1 Billion In AUM l Financial Advisor

  • Cornerstone Capital Group, an RIA based in New York City and Denver that was created three years ago, is closing in on the $1 billion mark in assets under management, the firm announced this week.
Climate Risk, Science & Regulation

Citing ‘Inexcusable’ Treatment, Advisers Quit National Parks Panel l The New York Times

  • The majority of members of the National Parks System Advisory Board, which advises the federal government on management of the country’s national parks, have jointly resigned to protest Trump administration policies that the board members say have ignored science, squelched efforts to address climate change and undermined environmental protections.

2017 Was One of the Hottest Years on Record. And That Was Without El Niño. l The New York Times

  • The world in 2017 saw some of the highest average surface temperatures ever recorded, surprising scientists who had expected sharper retreat from recent record years.
General Endowment News

Which Colleges Will Have to Pay Taxes on Their Endowment? Your Guess Might Not Be Right l Wall Street Journal

  • A college-endowment tax, enacted in December, is causing confusion and frustration at schools across the country, which rely on the previously tax free-earnings when setting their budgets. Small liberal arts colleges will likely be hit disproportionately because many have sizable endowments but limited enrollment. The tax applies only to private schools with at least 500 students and at least $500,000 of investments per student.

Why the Endowment Tax Is Unconstitutional (Opinion) l Inside Higher Ed

  • According to this article, the endowment tax is an attack on all colleges and universities, done for explicit ideological reasons to try to pressure institutions to silence leftists and lift up conservatives, argues John K. Wilson.

Alum Creates $250,000 Endowment for Business Education at Hampshire College l MassLive

  • Earlier this month, Hampshire College graduate Judy Bornstein donated $250,000 to endow the Women in Business program at Hampshire College. That financial support will fund, "in perpetuity, courses, programs, and research that promote women's participation and leadership in business" according to a college press release.
Fossil Fuel Divestment

Growing Fossil Fuel Divestment Movement Poses Challenges for Alberta Energy Industry l Calgary Herald

  • The movement pressuring institutional investors to divest their holdings in fossil-fuel companies appears to be gaining momentum, posing new challenges for Alberta’s energy industry and the provincial government.

NYC is Selling Off Its Fossil Fuel Investments—Here's Why That Matters l phys.org

  • In this opinion piece, that author argues that divestment cannot replace government action on climate, but it is an important step in the transition away from fossil fuels toward a clean energy future. Institutions should use all available tools—including investment funds and the courts—to press for a just and sustainable future.

The top 5 Pledges to Divest From Fossil Fuels l Climate Action

  • In this piece, the authors highlight their top five picks from the gathering pace of divestment pledges made around the world.
Calendar of Upcoming Events
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.

Webinar: The Investor Case for Human Rights | Intentional Endowments Network, January 24th, 2018, 1:00 p.m. ET

  • Participants will hear from leaders at ICCR about the potential for investor work on human rights, where investors can have impact and where they have had success in the past, and discuss next steps for those interested in engaging more deeply on this work. 
Winter Innovation Summit l Sorenson Impact, January 24-26, 2018, Salt Lake City, UT
  • This year’s Summit will bring together policymakers, funders, nonprofits, and social entrepreneurs to explore the future of social innovation across the globe. 
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. 

Clean200: 2018 Q1 Webinar l Clean200, February 15th, 2018, 10:00 a.m. ET

This webinar will present Clean200's model looking at how global large-cap companies making significant revenue from clean energy have performed. 

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
Responsible Investment Forum New York l Private Equity International, March 20-21, 2018, New York, NY
  • The Responsible Investment Forum will bring together the most sophisticated LPs, GPs and service providers to discuss why, when, and how your firm should be implementing an effective ESG strategy. IEN's Kristian Nammack will be presenting.



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