Federated Hermes pulls plug on US anti-ESG organisation

Fidelity Investments and Wells Fargo declined to comment on whether they planned to follow suit.

A senior executive at Federated Hermes (UK) has said the investor will not be renewing its membership and sponsorship of the State Financial Officers Foundation (SFOF), a controversial non-profit associated with the anti-ESG movement in the US.

SFOF’s members include Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar, West Virginia Treasurer Riley Moore, Arizona Treasurer Kimberly Yee and Kentucky Treasurer Allison Ball. All four have been outspoken in their criticisms of ESG, and Hegar and Moore have implemented laws blacklisting financial institutions that appear to boycott the fossil fuel sector. 

The foundation has taken a strong stance against ESG on social media and appears to be supporting the pushback against it, which has caused concern across the responsible investment community.    

In June, RI revealed that Federated Hermes, Invesco, Fidelity Investments and Wells Fargo were named on SFOF’s website among its “sponsors”, while JPMorgan and KKR were flagged as “friends of SFOF sponsors”.    

Regarding sponsors, SFOF’s website states: “Our donors and sponsors make an annual, non-refundable commitment to support the State Financial Officers Foundation (SFOF) and its educational activities. A part of the partnership includes sponsorship of our national meetings.”

Then in August, RI reported that KKR was no longer listed among the “friends of SFOF sponsors”.   

At the time, Federated Hermes published a statement on its website: “We participate with the events of a variety of organisations, including the Prince of Wales Sustainable Markets Initiative, Robert F Kennedy Human Rights, the Impact Investing Institute, the International Sustainability Standards Board, Focusing Capital on the Long Term, the National Association of State Treasurers and the State Financial Officers Foundation.”  

It continued: “We do not set the agendas for these organisations; rather, they operate according to their unique charters and the views of their members and elected leadership. Our participation does not serve as an endorsement of any organisation’s particular perspective on any issue.” 

Speaking at an event this week, however, Dennis Gepp, managing director and CIO cash at Federated Hermes (UK), said: “These things come up for annual revision. We will not be renewing our membership and our sponsorship of that organisation.” 

Federated Hermes declined to comment.

Fidelity Investments, Wells Fargo and JPMorgan declined to comment on whether they planned to follow suit and/or review their sponsorship of SFOF.

At the time of publication, Invesco had not responded to RI’s request for comment.

SFOF has now removed the names of sponsors from its website, stating it “does not discuss or disclose our donors or sponsors”. 

At the time of publication SFOF had not responded to RI’s request for comment on the move. 

Additional reporting by Dominic Webb.