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Allianz, Aviva and Zurich make ‘moral, financial and economic’ case for responsible investment

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For all the recent growth of responsible investment, there is still a lot more that investors can do to have a positive impact on the economy, environment and society, according to a new report from investment institutions with over $5 trillion (£2.96tr) of assets under management.

In The Value of Responsible Investment, 11 asset managers and owners from the Investment Leaders Group (ILG), a coalition brought together by the University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL), attempt to define responsibility, and make “a moral, financial and economic case” for it.

Among them are Allianz Global Investors, Aviva Global Investors, Standard Life Investments, Zurich and PensionDanmark. 

Though awareness is growing as the market expands, with the UN Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) gathering over 1,200 signatories, the organisations argue that this is not enough.

“A business-as-usual economy continues to draw down on the world’s natural capital rather than living off its interest”, the report says.

Philippe Zaouati, chair of the ILG and CEO at Natixis Asset Management’s responsible investment brand Mirova, said, “In spite of a widespread rhetorical commitment to responsible investment principles, market dynamics remain preoccupied by the short-term, and the majority of investment does little to answer the challenges of our time.”

The report refers to UN estimates that say the cost of environmental damage caused by the world’s 3,000 largest companies added up to a staggering $2.15 trillion (£1.27tr) in 2008. It explains that these costs could soon appear on corporate accounts, with serious implications for investors.

Also, as it has been proven that investing responsibly does not mean sacrificing returns, the report continues, there is no justification for ignoring the moral case in favour of it.

“Five forms of responsibility justify different forms of responsible investment: non-maleficence justifies negative screening and engagement; beneficence justifies pursuing [environmental, social and governance (ESG)] aims as a proactive investment strategy; fidelity justifies attending to ESG concerns as a core duty to beneficiaries; reparation justifies compensation for dishonest selling or negligent investment; and gratitude justifies fairness towards beneficiaries”, it says.

The report recommends a number of actions investment institutions can take to maximise their sustainable investment opportunities. It advises investors to more thoroughly research the risks that environmental issues represent to their investments, to adopt a longer-term investment approach, invest more in cleantech and to promote non-financial reporting standards.

Jake Reynolds, director of business platforms at CISL, added, “In a world that neglects to account for social and environmental costs on corporate balance sheets – costs we know can ultimately impact value – responsible investment can be seen not only as a smart investment strategy but as an essential response to growing sources of systemic risk.” 

Photo: Tax credit via Flickr

Further reading:

Companies becoming more sensitive to sustainable investment concerns – survey

S&P: corporate green bond market to double reaching $20bn

Financial returns from ethical investment funds ‘better than mainstream’ in last 12 months

Enlightened business: 20 years of the Cambridge Business and Sustainability Programme

The Guide to Sustainable Investment 2014

 

Environment

These 5 Green Office Mistakes Are Costing You Money

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eco-friendly green offices
Shutterstock Licensed Photo - By Stokkete | https://www.shutterstock.com/g/cyano

The sudden interest in green business is very encouraging. According to recent reports, 42% of all companies have rated sustainability as an important element of their business. Unfortunately, the focus on sustainability will only last if companies can find ways to use it to boost their ROI.

Many businesses get so caught up in being socially conscious that they hope the financial aspect of it takes care of itself. The good news is that there are plenty of ways to go green and boost your net income at the same time.

Here are some important mistakes that you will want to avoid.

Only implementing sustainability on micro-scale

The biggest reason that brands are going green is to improve their optics with their customers. Too many businesses are making very minor changes, such as processing paperwork online and calling themselves green.

Customers have become wary of these types of companies. If you want to earn their business, you are going to need to go all the way. Bring in a green business consultant and make every feasible change to demonstrate that you are a green organization from top to bottom.

Not prioritizing investments by long-term ROI

It isn’t realistic to build an entirely green organization overnight. You will need to allocate your capital wisely.

Before investing in any green assets or services, you should always conduct a long-term cost benefit analysis. The initial investment for some green services may be over $20,000. If they don’t shave your cost by at least $3,000 a year, they probably aren’t worth the investment.

Determine which green investments will have the best pay off over the next 10 years. Make these investments before anything else. Then compare your options within each of those categories.

Implementing green changes without a plan

Effective, long-term planning is the key to business success. This principle needs to be applied to green organizations as well.

Before implementing a green strategy, you must answer the following questions:

  • How will I communicate my green business philosophy to my customers?
  • How will running a green business affect my revenue stream?
  • How will adopting green business strategies change my monthly expenses? Will they increase or decrease them?
  • How will my company finance green upgrades and other investments?

The biggest mistake that too many green businesses make is being overly optimistic with these forecasts. Take the time to collect objective data and make your decisions accordingly. This will help you run a much more profitable green business.

Not considering the benefits of green printing

Too many companies believe that going paperless is the only way to run a green organization. Unfortunately, going 100% paperless it’s not feasible for most companies.

Rather than aim for an unrealistic goal, consider the option of using a more environmentally friendly printer. It won’t be perfect, but it will be better than the alternative.

According to experts from Doranix, environmental printers have several benefits:

  • They can process paper that has been completely recycled.
  • They consume less energy than traditional printers.
  • They use ink that is more environmentally friendly.

You want to take a look at different green printers and compare them. You’ll find that some will meet your needs as a green business.

Poorly communicating your green business strategy to customers

Brand positioning doesn’t happen on its own. If you want to run a successful green business, you must communicate your message to customers as clearly as possible. You must also avoid the appearance that you are patronizing them.

The best approach is to be clear when you were first making the change. I’ll make an announcement about your company‘s commitment to sustainability.

You also want to reinforce this message overtime by using green labels on all of your products. You don’t have to be blatant with your messaging at this stage. Simply provide a small, daily reminder on your products and invoices.

Finally, it is a good idea to participate in green business seminars and other events. If your community has a local Green Chamber of Commerce, you should consider joining as well.

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Energy

Responsible Energy Investments Could Solve Retirement Funding Crisis

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Energy Investments
Shutterstock / By Sergey Nivens | https://www.shutterstock.com/g/nivens

Retiring baby-boomers are facing a retirement cliff, at the same time as mother nature unleashes her fury with devastating storms tied to the impact of global warming. There could be a unique solution to the challenges associated with climate change – investments in clean energy from retirement funds.

Financial savings play a very important role in everyone’s life and one must start planning for it as soon as possible. It’s shocking how quickly seniors can burn through their nest egg – leaving many wondering, “How long your retirement savings will last?

Let’s take a closer look at how seniors can take baby steps on the path to retiring with dignity, while helping to clean up our environment.

Tip #1: Focus & Determination

Like in other work, it is very important to focus and be determined. If retirement is around the corner, then make sure to start putting some money away for retirement. No one can ever achieve anything without dedication and focus – whether it’s saving the planet, or saving for retirement.

Tip #2: Minimize Spending

One of the most important things that you need to do is to minimize your expenditures. Reducing consumption is good for the planet too!

Tip #3: Visualize Your Goal

You can achieve more if you have a clearly defined goal in life. This about how your money can be used to better the planet – imagine cleaner air, water and a healthier environment to leave to your grandchildren.

Investing in Clean Energy

One of the hottest and most popular industries for investment today is the energy market – the trading of energy commodities. Clean energy commodities are traded alongside dirty energy supplies. You might be surprised to learn that clean energy is becoming much more competitive.

With green biz becoming more popular, it is quickly becoming a powerful tool for diversified retirement investing.

The Future of Green Biz

As far as the future is concerned, energy businesses are going to continue getting bigger and better. There are many leading energy companies in the market that already have very high stock prices, yet people are continuing to investing in them.

Green initiatives are impacting every industry. Go Green campaigns are a PR staple of every modern brand. For the energy-sector in the US, solar energy investments are considered to be the most accessible form of clean energy investment. Though investing in any energy business comes with some risks, the demand for energy isn’t going anywhere.

In conclusion, if you want to start saving for your retirement, then clean energy stocks and commodity trading are some of the best options for wallets and the planet. Investing in clean energy products, like solar power, is a more long-term investment. It’s quite stable and comes with a significant profit margin. And it’s amazing for the planet!

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