Displaying items by tag: investors

Wednesday, 05 April 2023 16:07

ESG Funds See Major Outflows in March

In March, investors withdrew a total of $5.7 billion from US-listed ESG ETFs, leaving ESG funds with total assets of $81 billion according to reporting from Barron’s Lauren Foster. 

A major factor in the outflows was Blackrock rebalancing its passive holdings which resulted in a $3.9 billion outflow in a single day. Other factors that accounted for this were cited as political backlash, increased regulatory scrutiny, poor performance, and market volatility. 

In Europe, ESG flows are also depressed relative to 2021 but remain positive. In the US, it’s become a political issue as many conservatives are criticizing corporations for involvement in political affairs. Recently, President Biden vetoed legislation that would prevent pension funds from considering ESG factors in their investments.

There has also been some movement at the state level where conservative leaders are pursuing actions such as divesting from financial institutions that don’t invest in energy companies or companies engaging in political activity. So far, these efforst have failed but show that the tide could be turning against ESG.

Finsum: ESG funds saw major outflows in March due to a variety of factors. However, it’s clear that ESG is increasingly becoming a political issue. 


Published in Wealth Management
Thursday, 30 March 2023 10:22

Biodiversity ESG Funds See 15% Jump in Assets

Over the last two months, there has been a 15% increase in the asset base of biodiversity funds according to an article by Natasha White of Bloomberg. This is a relatively new segment of the ESG market which saw a 150% increase in the number of funds last year. 

Overall, biodiversity is a fraction of the overall ESG market with combined assets of $2.9 billion. To compare, the overall ESG market is estimated to have $41 trillion in assets. The largest biodiversity funds are from Northern Trust, Axa Investment Managers, and Lombard Odier. All three are based in Europe, where there is a more defined regulatory environment. 

One catalyst for the asset class was the agreement at the COP15 summit in December of last year, where the Global Biodiversity Framework was signed by nearly 200 nations, with the intent to mobilize $200 billion annually to preserve and maintain biodiversity.

A challenge for the nascent fund class is the lack of standardized data on biodiversity which means there is disagreement on best practices and assessing impact. A larger issue is that many experts believe that the tradeoff between earning financial returns and maximizing biodiversity is too steep and thus can only be attained through public policy.

Finsum: Biodiversity funds have seen a 15% increase in assets over the last two months and a sharp boom in formation over the last couple of years. While there is agreement on the importance of preserving biodiversity, there are doubts whether it can be attained while generating positive returns for investors.

Published in Wealth Management

Investors have been expressing a growing interest in addressing ESG issues with the filing of a record number of shareholder resolutions to be considered this proxy season. According to As You Sow, the Sustainable Investment Institute and Proxy Impact in the Proxy Preview 2023 report, investors filed 542 shareholder resolutions concerning ESG issues in 2022 that they want public companies to take into consideration. The organization said that the leading concerns were climate change, corporate political influence, racial justice, and reproductive and worker rights. Many of these will be voted on at spring and summer corporate annual general meetings. While politicians are arguing over the merits of ESG investing, “Investors have shown long-term support for companies adopting for net-zero greenhouse gas goals and reporting on the management of climate risks and opportunities,” according to Michael Passoff, CEO of Proxy Impact and co-author of Proxy Preview 2023. He also added that “Shareholder resolutions have always been at the forefront of these efforts — first by educating companies and investors about climate risk and solutions, and more recently by calling for quantitative metrics on greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets, alignment with science-based targets, and incorporating climate-risk mitigation into executive compensation packages and company-wide business strategies.”

Finsum:Investors continue to show a growing interest in addressing ESG issues with the filing of a record 542 shareholder resolutions concerning ESG issues in 2022 that they want public companies to take into consideration.

Published in Wealth Management

According to a report released this month by the Investment Company Institute, only 2.5% of defined contribution plan participants stopped contributing to their plans last year. This suggests that despite market volatility, Americans are still exhibiting disciplined savings habits. The report, titled “Defined Contribution Plan Participants’ Activities, 2022,” examined participant-directed changes in DC plans by tracking activity through recordkeeper surveys and comparing it to data going back to 2008. Based on the results, DC plan participants remained committed to making contributions like they had in previous years. For instance, only 2.2% of participants stopped contributing in 2021, 2.3% in 2020, 2.3% in 2019, and 3.4% in 2009. In fact, the withdrawal activity of defined contribution plan participants was 4.1% in 2022, the same as in 2021. In prior years, the percentage of plan participants who took withdrawals was 3.8% in 2020, 3.9% in 2019, and 3.1% in 2009. While levels of hardship withdrawal activity increased slightly last year, they were still low in absolute terms. This indicated that despite a challenging market environment, Americans are set on protecting their retirement savings, which was the conclusion of the ICI report.

Finsum:According to the results of a recent ICI report, only 2.5% of defined contribution plan participants stopped contributing to their plans last year despite a challenging market environment.

Published in Wealth Management

Jonathan Foster, president, and CEO of Angeles Wealth Management, recently penned an article on MarketWatch where he listed the benefits of direct indexing for retail investors. Foster noted that while direct indexing is primarily used by high-net-worth investors that are seeking to optimize their after-tax returns, the widespread elimination of brokerage trading fees and the growing availability of fractional share trading have led to greater adoption of direct indexing. According to Foster, the advantages that direct indexing can bring to a portfolio include ‘dirty money,’ outmoded mutual funds, and personalization. Foster says that ‘dirty money’ refers to investors expressing concern about how the companies they invest in make money. For instance, direct indexing offers advisors the ability to craft portfolios that exclude what their clients believe to be “dirty money.” Foster uses tobacco as an example. In this instance, direct indexing can help an investor craft a tobacco-free portfolio. Outmoded mutual funds refer to investors using mutual funds in taxable accounts and not having the benefit of starting with their own individualized cost basis, which can lead to distributable annual taxable gains. With direct indexing, investors can take advantage of tax-loss harvesting. Direct indexing can also offer investors an opportunity to customize portfolios with strategies such as ESG.

Finsum:A wealth management executive recently wrote an article on MarketWatch advocating for direct indexing due to benefits such as excluding certain securities, employing tax-loss harvesting, and customizing a portfolio for certain strategies.

Published in Wealth Management
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