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Ownership Day: age of ‘invisible investors’ passing

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Pension funds have been urged to “lead from the front” and hold companies to account. To mark the second annual Ownership Day, institutional investors are being encouraged to be more ‘active owners’ and use shareholder power to make companies more sustainable.

A poll commissioned by the UK Sustainable Investment and Finance Association (UKSIF), which co-ordinates Ownership Day, found that 48% of British adult believe institutional investors should have stewardship responsibility in the companies they invest in.

In addition, 39% of respondents said that environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues and other financial considerations could affect the long-term value of investments. Concerns raised by investors included human rights abuses and child labour in corporate supply chains, animal welfare abuse and reducing use of fossil fuels.

Earlier this year the Law Commission accepted submissions looking at fiduciary duty and whether the current law gives investment trustees the ability to consider ESG issues. Whilst some of the submissions said the law is “fit for purpose”, concerns around trustee knowledge were raised.

When asked to pick which three issues they thought were most important for pension funds to be active about, 53% of survey participants said ensuring companies pay their fair share of UK tax. This answer reflects headlines from last year after big brands, including Starbucks, Amazon and Google, were found to be avoiding tax.

Half also wanted pension funds to encourage companies to pay a living wage and 48% said ensuring executive pay and bonuses are not excessive was important.

Simon Howard, chief executive of UKSIF, said, “The age of when it was the norm for pension and other funds to be ‘invisible investors’ who simply sat back and waited as their assets were managed is passing.

“If we are to rebuild public trust in savings then we need all major funds in the UK to act as responsible stewards, not absentee landlords. They need to use the information and advice available to them to set the tone for how their funds are managed, and our research show this is what the public – the people the funds are run for – want.”

Active ownership involves engaging with companies to improve how they manage long-term issues. According to UKSIF, it has become an important part of sound financial management for investors with over £800 billion of assets not being invested in this way in the UK.

ExxonMobil is a recent example of shareholder action having a positive outcome. Investors raised concerns about the financial risks posed by climate change and stranded assets, as a result the company will now report on these issues in a bid to be more transparent.

Institutional investors are being called on to sign up to the Stewardship Code, a set of principles aimed at encourage active ownership. The call for all pensions funds to sign the code will be made in parliament today.

Conservative MP Paul Uppal, who is hosting a parliamentary reception for Ownership Day, said, “Effective use of shareholder power is key to protecting the value of people’s pensions and savings and I would argue everyone – policymakers, pensions funds and the public – to get involved in Ownership Day.”

Further reading:

National Express shareholder seek to address employment issues

ExxonMobil in landmark agreement to report climate risk after investor resolution

Investors warn of ‘carbon bubble’ as Shell predict climate regulation will hit profits

The sole purpose of investment is profit. All other considerations are secondary

The Guide to Ownership 2013

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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