New UN Report – Humans ‘threaten 1m species with extinction’ (BBC)

https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-48169783

Interesting to note it’s not climate change that is top of the list this time: 1) Changes in land / sea use; 2) direct exploitation of resources.

Other highlights:

Species extinction risk: Approximately 25% of species are already threatened with extinction in most animal and plant groups studied.

Natural ecosystems: Natural ecosystems have declined by 47% on average, relative to their earliest estimated states.

Biomass and species abundance: The global biomass of wild mammals has fallen by 82%. Indicators of vertebrate abundance have declined rapidly since 1970.

Nature for indigenous people: 72% of indicators developed by local communities show ongoing deterioration of elements of nature important to them.

Live coral cover on reefs has nearly halved over the past 150 years.

Link to the Global Assessment website: https://www.ipbes.net/news/Media-Release-Global-Assessment

Global sustainable investments hit over $30 trillion in 2018 (GSIA Report)

http://www.gsi-alliance.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/GSIR_Review2018.3.28.pdf

Globally, sustainable investing assets in the five major markets stood at $30.7 trillion at the start of 2018, a 34percent increase in two years. In all the regions except Europe, sustainable investing’s market share has also grown. Responsible investment now commands a sizable share of professionally managed assets in each region, ranging from 18 percent in Japan to 63 percent in Australia and New Zealand. Clearly, sustainable investing constitutes amajor force across global financial markets.

From 2016 to 2018, the fastest growing region has been Japan, followed by Australia/New Zealand and Canada. These were also the three fastest growing regions in the previous two-year period. The largest three regions— based on the value of their sustainable investing assets—were Europe, the United States and Japan.

Happy Earth Week! Sustainable Investing Goes Mainstream (Oppenheimer)

https://www.oppenheimerfunds.com/advisors/article/sustainable-investing-goes-mainstream?CMPID=EAMZZ1900101971&SID=100&AN=OPPNEW_20190422&HB=00000000000021884526&om_rid=AAAAAA&om_mid=2285961&heartbeat_id=00000000000021884526&itx[email]=fcc60a77dcf692cfed07ed5f940f9f8532ce8b71f28ce5b1db27bbb8653f1263@idio&BID=26344032&CID=ofiDM14451&OPT1=Rep&OPT2=IDIO%20TEST&OPT3=Y

In a few short decades, sustainable investing has grown from a niche corner of the financial world to a phenomenon large enough that the primary challenge for investors may come in understanding its true scope, the changes it represents for businesses and financial markets, and how to position their personal finances for the future.

By early 2018, funds guided by environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues totaled $98 billion in the United States, a 58% increase over the previous year, according to a 2018 Morningstar report.

It’s National Financial Literacy Month, Take the Financial Literacy Test (FINRA)

http://www.usfinancialcapability.org/quiz.php

See how you compare to the national and state averages.

The Bad

-49% of Americans don’t know what an index fund is

-44% can’t cover $400 out-of-pocket expense

-52% have no retirement savings

-Median household retirement acct bal is $2,500

-66% thought market was flat or down over past 10yrs

The Better

Those with greater financial literacy are more likely to save and plan for retirement, according to TIAA and the Global Financial Literacy Excellence Center at the George Washington University School of Business.

88% of those who answered between 76% and 100% of the questions on the Personal Finance Index (P-Fin Index) correctly save for retirement on a regular basis. By comparison, only 37% of those who answered less than 26% of the questions correctly regularly save for retirement.

86% of those in the first group have additional savings outside of their retirement plan, compared to 34% of the second group, and 63% of the first group usually track their spending, compared to 54% of the second group.

Furthermore, those with greater financial literacy are less likely to be financially fragile; 85% of the first group could come up with $2,000 if an unexpected need arose in the next month, compared to 25% of the second group.

Borrowing and debt management are the areas where knowledge is the highest, but comprehending risk is where it is the lowest.


“The P-Fin Index is the preeminent annual barometer of Americans’ personal finance knowledge,” says Stephanie Bell-Rose, head of the TIAA Institute. “Understanding the connection between financial literacy and financial wellness was a particular focus this year, to help us create a better roadmap for improving the financial well-being of Americans.”

On average, U.S. adults answered only 51% of the P-Fin Index questions correctly. The survey asked a total of 28 questions on the following topics: earnings, consuming, saving, investing, borrowing and managing debt, insuring, risk and where to find financial advice.

https://www.tiaainstitute.org/about/news/2019-personal-finance-index

Global Sustainable Investments Rise 34 Percent to $30.7 Trillion (Bloomberg)

https://www.bloomberg.com/amp/news/articles/2019-04-01/global-sustainable-investments-rise-34-percent-to-30-7-trillion

Global socially responsible investments grew by 34 percent to $30.7 trillion over the past two years, lifted by Japanese pension funds, retail investors everywhere and broad, growing concern about climate change.

Money managers around the globe said clients were increasingly asking for sustainable strategies and that climate change became a leading issue for investors this year. Retail investors bought up more ethical funds, according to the report, and now account for about 25 percent of assets, up from 20 percent in 2016.

ESG investing in 401(k)s faces fiduciary, regulatory questions (BenefitsPro)

https://www.benefitspro.com/2019/03/19/esg-investing-in-401ks-faces-fiduciary-regulatory-questions/

Sustainable investing is on a tear.

According to Morningstar research, sustainable investment funds, which the research firms defines as those that use environmental, social and corporate governances (ESG) criteria as measurements for scoring the societal impact of investing in a public company, saw record flows of $5.5 billion in 2018.

Last year marked the third consecutive year of record flows to ESG-premised mutual funds, which increased 50% to 351 offerings in 2018.

Painstaking Progress for Funds That Aim to Do Good (WSJ)

https://www.wsj.com/articles/painstaking-progress-for-funds-that-aim-to-do-good-11553166000

DWS Group Inc., the asset-management business of Deutsche Bank AG , recently raised $843 million in a single day for a new fund that tries to invest in the best corporate citizens in the U.S.

It was one of the most successful exchange-traded-fund debuts of all time, and especially noteworthy in the slow-growing corner of the market devoted to responsible investing.

For years, asset managers have been trumpeting a new dawn for strategies that deliver competitive returns along with a clear conscience. In the past year alone, firms including Vanguard Group, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and BlackRock Inc.’s iShares have introduced more than a dozen ETFs that use environmental, social and governance scores to pick stocks and bonds.

But investors have been slow to buy into so-called ESG funds. The triumphant inaugural run of DWS Group’s Xtrackers MSCI USA ESG Leaders Equity ETF may signal a step change in investor participation.

IOSCO Statement on Disclosure of ESG Matters by Issuers

https://www.iosco.org/library/pubdocs/pdf/IOSCOPD619.pdf

The International Organization of Securities Commissions (IOSCO) is this month publishing a statement setting out the importance for issuers of considering the inclusion of environmental, social and governance (ESG) matters when disclosing information material to investors’ decisions.

The statement does not supersede existing laws, regulations, guidance or standards or relevant regulatory or supervisory frameworks in specific jurisdictions, or any IOSCO Principles.

I. Introduction

As underlined by IOSCO in its Objectives and Principles of Securities Regulation, securities regulation has three key objectives: protecting investors, ensuring that markets are fair, efficient, and transparent, and reducing systemic risk. IOSCO Principle 16 states that issuers should provide “full, accurate, and timely disclosure of financial results, risk, and other information which is material to investors’ decisions.” With regard to this Principle, IOSCO emphasizes that ESG matters, though sometimes characterized as non-financial, may have a material short-term and long-term impact on the business operations of the issuers as well as on risks and returns for investors and their investment and voting decisions.

II. Developments in the disclosure of ESG information

Disclosure of ESG information in the market has increased in recent years. Examples of ESG matters that issuers are disclosing include environmental factors related to sustainability and climate change, social factors including labor practices and diversity, and general governance- related factors that have a material impact on the issuer’s business.

It isn’t easy being green for a bond ETF (WSJ)

https://www.wsj.com/articles/it-isnt-easy-being-green-for-a-bond-etf-1544410920

Consider green bonds, issued by governments, banks, municipalities and corporations. The bonds aim to negate the effects of climate change by financing “green” assets in energy, water, heavy industry and the like. Over the past 11 years, some $500 billion in green bonds have been issued, including $138 billion in 2018 through November, the Climate Bonds Initiative says.

On top of that, the money raised from green bonds isn’t linked directly to a specific project or property, so it is up to issuers to update investors on how the money is being used.