15 Mar Responsible Investment Conference – Key Takeaways
Lewis Davey were in attendance at a Responsible Investment themed conference earlier this week and in addition to enjoying a pleasant lunch at The Waldorf Hilton, London, it was equally great to hear from all corners of the responsible investment, ESG and impact investing industry.
Perhaps the most remarkable takeaway for me, was the disparity of ESG scores from service providers. I’ve certainly heard from my SRI network that many factors effect ESG scores but to witness the contrasting scores from several leading data providers (e.g. Sustainalytics, MSCI) in graphical form, really put this into context. Hearing about how much value an ESG service provider might place of governance, for instance, means that someone like Tesla who are big on cleantech and score well in regards to carbon, really fall down in terms of worker rights etc. It’s apparent that ESG teams in Asset Managers and Asset Owners really need to carry out their own in-depth, bottom-up research and I think that as greater emphasis is placed on ESG, this is probably a good thing for specialist ESG recruiter like Lewis Davey.
The event certainly got me thinking about my own ethical investments and what’s important to me as an investor. I certainly buy-in to the whole good governance side of things but it’s really the whole climate change and 1.5 degree aspect that drives me. The real problem to this is that it seems that Governance seems to currently have the largest impact on performance and, as an ethical investor, I also want my savings and pension to perform. I wonder how this will change as the years go by? I suspect there will come a tilting point in the market where assets that are not committing to the climate change drivers will become stranded and start to rapidly underperform… I’ve certainly got some added interest in seeing where my pension is now…
Robert Blood, the Founder and Managing Director of SIGWATCH, was one of several presenters that stood out for me. It was fascinating to hear how activists are shaping public opinion and he drew on some interesting examples from fracking to plastics – activist activity preceded google search activity and I can certainly see how pre-empting public opinion could benefit not only responsible investment but also wider businesses. Greggs certainly seem to have picked up the shifting mood towards Veganism!
Interesting too were Dominic Byrne of Aberdeen Standard and John Olsen of M&G with their respective presentations on Impact Investing. It’s apparent there’s a relatively small pool of list equities that match the portfolio profile.
Generally, it seems to be a really exciting time for the whole SRI, ESG, Impact Investing industry currently and, as a business, Lewis Davey have clearly seen significant activity, especially over the last couple of years. Where do you think the industry is going? Can the service providers do more? Do we need more consistency in ESG scoring?
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