RI Briefing, July 6: Report calls for tax breaks for long-term investors

RI’s regular round up of responsible investing news

Forum for the Future, the sustainable think tank, has called for tax breaks and subsidies to investors who can demonstrate that their investment strategy includes “detailed consideration of long-term and systemic impacts”. The recommendation comes in a new report Overcoming the Barriers to Long-term thinking in Financial Markets, written by Ruth Curran and Alice Chapple.

Australia: UN PRI signatory Vision Super’s previously announced merger with fellow super fund Equipsuper has been signed off by the boards of both funds. The two will come together in February 2012 with combined assets of A$9.5bn (€7bn) and a fund membership of over 170,000.

The European Parliament yesterday (July 5) voted against the adoption of a draft resolution on European Union climate policy. An amendment had been narrowly adopted to support a conditional 30% greenhouse gas reductions target, rather than the unilateral step to 30% cuts previously recommended by Parliament.

Dexia Asset Management, the asset management firm, says it now has €19.7bn in assets in socially responsible funds and client mandates – up from €18bn at the end of 2009. SRI assets now account for 22.75% of its total €86.3bn of assets under management, according to the firm’s new Sustainability Report.

Thomson Reuters and IdealRatings have launched a set of Islamic Indices, saying they are “the first Islamic benchmarks to offer research-based Shariah screening based on a globally accepted Shariah standard to investors”. The suite includes compliant companies in over 60 countries and covers the global equity markets in nine regions including the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and Middle East and North Africa (MENA).The Financial Reporting Council, the UK watchdog which oversees the Stewardship Code, is looking to see if it can “dispense with” some of its current responsibilities. In its new annual report, it says it seeks to ensure that “our powers to discharge our core responsibilities are vested properly in the FRC, and are adequate and proportionate”.

Colonial First State Global Asset Management, the A$152bn (€113.5bn) asset manager, has released research showing that the top rated ESG stocks in its global listed infrastructure portfolio have outperformed by over 20% over three years – which it says supports the argument that ESG factors and performance are connected. It came as the group released its fourth annual Responsible Investment Report.

The Illinois-based $17bn General Board of Pension and Health Benefits, the largest faith-based pension fund in the US, has launched Wespath Investment Management. “GBOPHB’s vision for Wespath is to extend the reach of our current investment funds to new clients to help them achieve consistent, reliable investment returns aligned with the Social Principles of The United Methodist Church,” said General Secretary and Chief Executive Barbara Boigegrain. The Wespath name is a reference to Methodism founder John Wesley.

The International Standards Organisation (ISO) has developed an action plan it says could help prevent or mitigate disasters like the Deepwater Horizon oil spill last year. The ISO’s plan provides an inventory of relevant standards and proposes a programme for the development of new standards or improvement of existing ones. Link