RI Briefing, February 15: Principles for Investors in Inclusive Finance: first year case studies

RI’s regular roundup of ESG news.

The Principles for Investors in Inclusive Finance (PIIF) for financial services for low income clients has published a series of case studies examining the progress of signatories in its first year. The initiative is housed within the UNPRI.

The UN Global Compact says it has expelled a total of 3,123 companies since 2005 for failing to communicate their progress on implementing its 10 sustainability principles. It said: “The fact remains that a large majority of the world’s businesses have not yet made any commitment to universal corporate sustainability principles.” And even within the initiative, a significant number “continuously fail to produce evidence of progress”. Link

Strathclyde Pension Fund has awarded a £100,000 (€119,300) socially responsible investment (SRI) overlay mandate to GES Investment Services, according to a report on the Financial Times’ schemexpert pensions site.

The Rockefeller Foundation and Social Finance, Inc. have released a new report looking at the opportunities and challenges of social impact bonds in the United States. The report is titled: “A New Tool for Scaling Impact: How Social Impact Bonds can Mobilize Private Capital to Advance Social Good.

Environmental, social and governance (ESG) research firm Sustainalytics will start to offer research covering privately held companies involved in controversial weapons from March. It says there’s a growing need for information and analysis about companies that are not publicly traded. Coverage of involvement in depleted uranium, nuclear weapons and white phosphorus will follow throughout 2012.

Thomson Reuters and Crescent Wealth, the Australian Islamic investment manager, have launched an Islamic investment index for Australia. Their new Islamic Australia Index covers 143 ASX equities with combined market capitalisation of A$160bn (€130.8bn). Announcement*Asset manager Henderson* has confirmed that its £84m Industries of the Future and £79m Global Care UK Income funds will be merged into its Global Care Growth Fund – creating a fund worth £284m. “Following the consolidation (expected to occur on 20th July 2012) our SRI fund range will comprise the Henderson Care Growth Fund and the Henderson Global Care Managed Fund,” said Global Care fund manager Nick Anderson, in an article for Worldwise Investor.

The CHF13.2bn (€10.9bn) Swiss pension fund Pensionskasse Post discusses its microfinance mandate with responsAbility Social Investments, in the latter’s newsletter. PK Post Portfolio Manager Rolf Maurer says microfinance “offers an attractive risk/return ratio and can be expected to enhance our portfolio diversification”. It comes as the fund’s trustees have decided to consider sustainability factors in investment decisions.

The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania has introduced a new course for executives – Business Sustainability Leadership, a partnership between Wharton Executive Education and the school’s Initiative for Global Environmental Leadership department. It will be held on June 12-14 at Wharton’s new West Coast campus in San Francisco.

The Nordic Investment Bank is inviting comments on its revised draft Sustainability policy and guidelines. “NIB invites comments from interested companies, organisations and individuals before the Policy’s launch later this spring,” it says.
New York has become the seventh US state to introduce ‘benefit corporation’ laws, which creates businesses that must create benefit for society and the environment in addition to profit. Thirteen businesses have already adopted the new corporate form.

ImpactBase, a project of the Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN), that is a global online directory of impact investment funds and products, has published Assessing Impact Strategy, a discussion guide to aid investor conversations with fund managers about impact objectives.