Weekly News Round-Up: May 18th, 2018

 
Weekly News Round-Up: May 18th, 2018

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

Don't forget to register for our Community Impact Investing Roundtable on June 11th at The Boston Foundation-- registration is open here! (Please note that at this time only asset owner seats are available.)

Also, be sure to register for this coming Wednesday's  IEN webinar exploring the importance of ESG data & corporate engagement.

Have a great weekend,

Nicole

Program Manager
The Intentional Endowments Network

 
New IEN Members
 
IEN in the News

Using ESG Data to Generate Alpha in Private Equity l Malartu

  • This article highlights how the demand for gathering real data on ESG initiatives in PE portfolio companies is growing stronger within the global limited partner base. Historically, this demand has been larger in Europe than in the US, but we’re starting to see real growth and adoption in the US markets.
 
 Opportunities for Action

US SIF Foundation Opens 2018 Survey on US Sustainable, Responsible and Impact Investing Trends l Digital Journal

  • US SIF Foundation announced today that the window for the 2018 Biennial Trends Survey is now open. The survey will provide data for the 2018 edition of its Trends report.  For reference, please see the 2016 report and this piece showing Highlights from Educational Institutions. To request a customized link to participate, contact the US SIF research team at trends@ussif.org. All survey responses are confidential. 

Proxy Season Sign-On Opportunities

 
New Resources

An Asset Owner's Guide To The TCFD Recommendations l PRI

  • The FSB Taskforce on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) provides a global framework to translate non-financial information into financial metrics. This publication provides technical guidance on adopting the TCFD recommendations, including the actions for asset owners; examples of peer asset owner practice on implementing the TCFD recommendations and reducing exposure to climate risk; questions to engage consultants or fund managers on TCFD; and climate scenarios.

 

Sustainable, Responsible, Impact & ESG Investing

Bloomberg Brief l Sustainable Finance

  • This week's Bloomberg Brief highlights how solar stocks jumped after California regulators ordered panels on most new homes starting in 2020; Repsol is shifting its business as it prepares for a global clean energy transition; and climate investors are going to start focusing more on resilience, Cambridge Associates' Liqian Ma says.

Accounting For Impact Alongside Market Returns l Barron's

  • The KL Felicitas Foundation, founded by impact investing pioneers Charly and Lisa Kleissner, has opened the books on its investments to show that a strategy aimed at doing good can live up to its social and environmental objectives as well as deliver returns. In a report published in late April titled “In Pursuit of Deep Impact and Market-Rate Returns: KL Felicitas Foundation’s Journey,” the Kleissners attempt to lay bare their thinking as well as their investments. The idea is to remove any mystery over how impact investing is done and, to show how it makes a difference.

Sovereign Bond Funds Employ ESG to Hold Nations to Account l Financial Times

  • Generally, responsible investors in this asset class use ESG data to assess the risks involved in investing in certain countries’ debt. They then use this analysis in conjunction with more traditional methods of analyzing creditworthiness to make a call on whether or not to invest. Some managers create ESG scoring systems for sovereign debt, while this article highlights Pimco, who has a blacklist of countries that fall short on certain criteria. The bond manager uses data to draw up lists of countries based on different measures.

Here's the Fastest Growing Strategy in Smart Beta l Institutional Investor

  • ESG was the fastest-growing smart beta strategy in the five years through 2017, with assets expanding at a compound annual growth rate of more than 50 percent, according to a Bank of America Merrill Lynch research report this week. How companies score in ESG is a strong indicator of future stock volatility, risks to earnings, and the potential for bankruptcy, the bank’s analysts found.

A New Multibillion-Dollar Investment Revolution is Being Led By This Woman l NBC

  • In 2017 an estimated $139.9 billion was invested in impact investment strategies, up more than 10-fold since 2014, according to the Global Impact Investing Network. Impact investors want to make decisions based on risk, reward and on the amount of "good" an investment produces in the world. Jean Case, the wife of AOL founder Steve Case, is a leading advocator for impact investing in the United States.
 
Sustainable Investing at Endowments, Foundations & Pensions

Hawaii State Pension Fund Joins PRI l Biz Journals

  • Hawaii’s state pension fund joined the United Nations-supported Principles for Responsible Investment, an international network of institutional investors committed to incorporating environmental, social and governance factors in their investment decision making. PRI, which was created in 2006, currently has over 1,900 signatories with around $73 trillion in assets under management.
 
Fiduciary Duty

Union Pension Plans Welcome DOL Guidance l Pensions & Investments

  • While some ESG investors feel like they are stuck in a game of ping-pong with new guidance from the Department of Labor on ESG and economically targeted investing, North America building trades union pension fund officials welcome it. In the case of the building trades unions, investing in real estate and infrastructure projects that are tied to union manpower can mean successful completion of those projects and more work hours and pension contributions for union members.

Should Employer Plans Offer Socially Aware Investments? (Opinion) l Palisades Hudson Financial Group

  • This opinion piece weighs in on the DOL guidance on how ESG investing relates to fiduciary duty.
 

 

Investment Firm News

JPM Private Bank Hires ESG Gatekeeper From Cambridge l Citywire

  • JP Morgan Private Bank has hired Jessica Matthews as an ESG gatekeeper from Cambridge Associates. Matthews was previously head of mission-related investing practices at Cambridge Associates, where she worked for a decade. Matthews has been appointed the head of sustainable investing in wealth management and will be responsible for evaluating new ESG strategies being made available on the private bank’s wealth platform. 

TD Ameritrade Institutional Expands Sustainable Investment Options for RIAs

  • TD Ameritrade Institutional, a  provider of brokerage and custody services, is offering environmental, social and governance (ESG) investing options on its Model Market Center platform.

Green Bond Fund Structure May Help to Achieve Other UN Sustainable Development Goals l Asian Investor

  • Amundi is launching the world’s largest emerging markets green bond fund with IFC. The fund, a joint venture between Amundi and the International Financial Corporation (IFC), closed in March at $1.42 billion. A cooperative arrangement between both public and private sectors, it is in the process of deploying funding for projects. Called the Amundi Planet Emerging Green One (AP EGO)*, it aims to deploy around $2 billion into emerging markets green bonds by the end of its seven-year investment period by reinvesting proceeds.
 
Climate Risk & Clean Energy

‘Impossible to Ignore’: Why Alaska Is Crafting a Plan to Fight Climate Change l The New York Times

  • This article highlights how Alaska is already seeing the dramatic effects of global warming firsthand, making the issue difficult for local politicians to avoid. The state is still finalizing its climate strategy. In October, Gov. Bill Walker, a former Republican who won election as an independent in 2014, created a task force headed by Lieutenant Governor Mallott that would propose specific policies to reduce emissions and help the state adapt to the impacts of global warming. The recommendations are due by September.

Arctic Ice Is Getting ‘Younger.’ But That’s Not Healthier l The New York Times

  • This week's Climate Fwd: newsletter highlights how the Arctic is melting, Scott Pruitt is under fire, and how you can invest, not just divest, to make a difference.

How China Could Become a Global Leader in Sustainable Infrastructure l The Diplomat

  • To meet the challenge of climate change, there is a need to massively increase financing for sustainable infrastructure: the governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, recently estimated that to enable a transition to a low carbon economy there is a need for a four-fold increase in finance in new technology investments and long-term infrastructure projects. China, through its Belt and Road Initiative, could help provide this financing. Given its scale and ambition – China has already pledged $1 trillion to Belt and Road projects – this initiative could have a transformative impact.

Statoil: Socially Responsible Philosophy Could Prove Good For Investors l Seeking Alpha

  • Statoil is one of the most socially responsible energy companies in the world and this could bring it some benefits going forward. The company has been actively developing wind and solar power solutions and owns a number of assets to reduce the carbon output of the world's energy mix. The company's focus on responsible practices could increase the demand for the stock among socially-conscious investors looking for an energy firm to add to their portfolios.

We Made Plastic. We Depend On It. Now We're Drowning In It. l National Geographic

  • This story is part of Planet or Plastic?—our multiyear effort to raise awareness about the global plastic waste crisis. Learn what you can do to reduce your own single-use plastics, and take your pledge

 

General Higher Education Endowment News

How a Small College's CIO Outpaced Harvard University's Endowment Team l Education Dive

  • The endowment investment team at Carthage College in Kenosha, Wisc., has managed to achieve a 10-year annualized return of 6.2% — a rate that beat out elite competitor Harvard, which saw a 4.4% average return for the fiscal year 2017. In fact, Carthage's performance is better than 90% of other institutions, according to data from the National Association of College and University Business Officers, reports Bloomberg.

Paradise Papers: Secret Documents Reveal Environmental Groups Invest in Oil Drilling l NBC

  • This article outlines the  Paradise Papers, a trove of 13 million leaked documents that offer a rare glimpse into the secretive world of offshore investing.

Harvard Endowment Paid New Leader $971,731 in First Month l Boston Globe

  • The new top manager of Harvard University’s endowment fund made $971,731 in his first month on the job, according to documents released Friday. 

Harvard Endowment Goes All-In on Apple, Microsoft, and Google l Bloomberg

  • The university’s endowment took on new stakes in Apple Inc., Microsoft Corp. and Google’s parent Alphabet Inc. in the first quarter, and they now account for more than two-thirds of the publicly traded American securities in its portfolio, according to a regulatory filing this week.

The University of Michigan Responds to Endowment Conflict of Interest Reports l Chief Investment Officer

  • This article describes the response from the $10.9 billion University of Michigan endowment to news reports citing potential conflicts of interest at the foundation, including allegations that as much as $4 billion of the endowment is invested in funds whose executives are major donors to the university.

NYU Endowment Eclipses $4 Billion, Cost of Attendance to Rise 2.7 Percent in 2018-2019 l Washington Square News

  • NYU released its annual budget proposal for the upcoming 2018-2019 academic year. The proposal will be subject to approval by the Board of Trustees in June. The budget proposal is $3.376 billion for 2018-2019 for all NYU schools other than the Langone School of Medicine, which manages its own budget. The total marks a 3.1 percent increase from the 2017-2018 total of $3.276 billion.
 
  
Fossil Fuel Divestment

The Fossil Fuel “Engagement vs Divestment” Debate at Harvard’s Endowment Fund l Climate Action

  • Mustafa Chaudhry, Senior Producer at Climate Action recently caught up with Kate Murtagh, Chief Compliance Officer and Managing Director for Sustainable Investment at Harvard Management Company. The university has the largest academic endowment in the world, totalling $37.1bn.

Church of Ireland to End Investments in Fossil Fuel Companies l Irish Times

  • The Church of Ireland has made a significant advance to end its investments in all fossil fuels at its General Synod in Armagh. It voted to exclude fully companies with a turnover of greater than 10 percent from fossil fuel production, by 2022.

Japanese Insurance Companies To Restrict Coal Finance l ESG Forum

  • Dai-ichi Life Insurance announced it is no longer funding coal-fired power plants overseas, becoming the first Japanese institution to do so. Similarly, Nippon Life Insurance is planning to restrict financing for coal plants, according to local reports.

Fossil Free Colorado College Receives Backing from Student Government Resolution l The Catalyst

  • Fossil Free CC, a student group that formed earlier this year, has finally garnered the support of the Colorado College Student Government Association in the form of a resolution to endorse divestment from fossil fuels. This resolution is a step closer to their goal of getting their voices heard by the administration. They hope to build on this momentum in the upcoming school year.

Yale to Review Puerto Rico Ties, Fossil Fuel Bets After Protests l Concord Monitor

  • Yale University’s endowment is listening to student activists. The $27.2 billion fund is looking at four issues that students have criticized – a New Hampshire power line, fossil fuels, private prisons and Puerto Rico’s bonds. The controversies spilled over into a spat between David Swensen, the fund’s chief investment officer, and the student newspaper, Yale Daily News, over coverage of investments.

Cambridge Students Confront Toope on Divestment and Democracy l The Varsity

  • Vice-chancellor Stephen Toope held a second open meeting today, where he responded to questions posed by Cambridge staff and students, following the first open meeting in March which was in the midst of the UCU-led staff strikes.

Cambridge Zero Carbon Activists Spraypaint Old Schools Walls l The Varsity

  • Around 30 campaigners from the Cambridge Zero Carbon Society painted messages and symbols, including flowers and hearts, onto the walls of Old Schools this week as pro-divestment campaigners embarked on what could be the final week of a years-long fight for the University to divest its endowment from fossil fuel company shareholdings. 

Students Want NV Universities to Divest from Fossil Fuels l Public News Service

  • College students in Nevada want the state's public universities to sell off financial holdings in companies that produce coal, oil and other fuels that have been shown to contribute to climate change. 
    Hundreds of colleges in the U.S. and abroad have divested from fossil fuel investments in recent years. University of Nevada, Las Vegas junior, Cielo Gumabon, is working with about 50 other students across other university and community college campuses in the state to organize a petition. She said her peers are committed to fighting climate change. 
 
Calendar of Upcoming Events

 Webinar: Harassment, Guns & Data Security this Proxy Season l Confluence Philanthropy, May 21, 2018, 1:00 p.m. ET

  • This webinar will spotlight investors who have filed resolutions at Facebook, Equifax and some of the leading gun manufacturers. The discussion will highlight achievements and next steps.

IEN Webinar: The Importance of ESG Data & Corporate Engagement | May 23, 2018, 1:00 p.m. ET 

  • This webinar will discuss the importance of standardized and publically available ESG data, as well as initiatives, tools and resources to promote ESG data disclosure, and examples of investors engaging in this work. Participants will also learn how shareholder engagement can improve ESG data availability and how they can participate in the engagement process.

Launch Event for FAIRR’s Protein Producer Index l Farm Animal Investment Risk and Return (FAIRR), May 30, 2018, 5:00 p.m. ET

  • Join FAIRR for the launch of their new Protein Producer Index, the world’s first comprehensive assessment of how 60 of the largest global intensive livestock and fish farming companies (with a combined market cap of $300 billion) are managing critical ESG risks facing the sector: from GHG emissions, deforestation and biodiversity to working conditions and animal welfare.

IEN Roundtable: Community Impact Investing l Intentional Endowments Network, June 11, 2018, Boston, MA

  • The Intentional Endowments Network will host a Community Impact Investing Roundtable focused on opportunities for place-based investing. The Roundtable will convene endowment and foundation decision-makers and other stakeholders interested in enhancing their leadership on sustainable investing.

Confluence Philanthropy's 2018 Advisors Forum l June 19-20, 2018, New York, NY

  • The Advisors Forum will convene Confluence members and colleagues to explore how we can work together to scale the impact industry. Discussions will focus on cutting-edge themes including investing in diversity, inclusion, and equity; sustainability; and barriers to deal flow. IEN members will receive the member rate to participate.

US SIF Annual Conference l US SIF, May 30 - June 1, 2018, Washington DC

The Energy Fair l MREA, June 15-17, 2018, Custer, WI

Global Climate Action Summit l Global Climate Action SummitSeptember 12-14, 2018, San Francisco, CA

PRI In Person l Principles for Responsible Investment, September 12-14, 2018, San Francisco, CA

2018 Investing for Impact Symposium | High Water Women, October 17, 2018, New York, NY

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

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