Responsible Investing

The Fiduciary Case for Carbon Exposure Management Now

Posted by Bill Jarvis, Executive Director, Commonfund Institute | Jess Gaspar, PhD, Managing Director, Head of Quantitative Research on Oct 18, 2016

Topic: Investment Strategy Responsible Investing

The year 2015 featured a wealth of global warming headlines: the December Paris Agreement on climate change, the Pope’s Encyclical, the collapse of oil prices, the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan, France’s mandatory carbon reporting and the New York Attorney General’s subpoena of Exxon Mobil. It was also the warmest year on record.

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Carbon and Investment Implications for Fiduciaries: Hosted by Intentional Endowments Network

Posted by Commonfund on Sep 28, 2016

Topic: Industry Knowledge Responsible Investing

Commonfund experts Jess Gaspar and Ethan Levine join host, Jacquelyn Smith from Intentional Endowments Network to discuss insights from their extensive research they have down over the past two years on low carbon investing challenges across both public and private markets. The Intentional Endowments Network webinar originally aired on Tuesday, September 27, 2016.

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Bridging the Budgetary Gap: Where Did Our Operating Income Go?

Posted by Michael Strauss, Chief Investment Strategist and Chief Economist | Jon Speare | Ryan Driscoll, CFA, Director on Sep 15, 2016

Topic: Industry Knowledge Operating Assets Responsible Investing

Treasury managers face a new challenge to an old problem. Their institutions historically have relied on operating investment income to provide a necessary influx to operating budgets. Prior to 2008, risk free or minimal risk investments provided support for operations with returns that are currently unimaginable.

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Viewpoint: A Firmer Foundation

Posted by Commonfund Institute on Sep 2, 2016

Topic: Governance and Policy Industry Knowledge Responsible Investing

How long is the long term? A year ago, private and community foundations appeared to many observers to have recovered from the losses suffered in the 2008–09 global financial crisis. Double-digit investment returns had been reported in every year except FY2011 and FY2014, donations to community foundations had returned to their pre-crisis levels and the investment strategies of successful foundations were once again followed closely in the financial press.

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Commonfund Roundup
07-29-16

Posted by Commonfund on Jul 29, 2016

Topic: Equities Industry Knowledge Investment Strategy Market Commentary Responsible Investing

Commonfund's July Roundup features the Commonfund Study of Responsible Investing: Foundations Survey and Press Release; a webcast on the FY2016 Equity Performance Review, hosted by Mark Anson, Chief Investment Officer, Kris Kwait, Head of Investments, and Keith Luke, President, Commonfund Securities, Inc.; along with the latest weekly economic podcasts by Chief Economist, Michael Strauss.

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Better Understanding Responsible Investing Practices

Posted by Vikki Spruill, President and CEO, Council on Foundations on Jul 22, 2016

Topic: Responsible Investing

How can you do the most good, with limited resources, when facing enormous problems? That question lies at or near the heart of every decision at a foundation. This is true of the grant dollars which support community institutions and provide for social services, and it is true of the endowed dollars which are invested to in order to fund future grantmaking – providing for generations to come and needs unforeseen.

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Responsible Investing Study of Foundations Released

Posted by Commonfund Institute on Jul 14, 2016

Topic: Governance and Policy Investment Strategy Responsible Investing

The Council on Foundations-Commonfund Study of Responsible Investing was issued jointly today by the two representative organizations. The study, believed to be the most comprehensive and detailed to date on the topic among private and public foundations, analyzed the policies, practices and attitudes with respect to responsible investing among 186 U.S. private and public/community foundations representing a total of $39.7 billion in endowment assets as of December 31, 2014.

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Commonfund Study of Responsible Investing: Foundations Survey

Posted by Commonfund Institute on Jul 14, 2016

Topic: Asset Allocation Investment Strategy Responsible Investing

Commonfund Institute and The Council on Foundations survey builds upon the 2014 Council on Foundations-Commonfund Study of Investment of Endowments for Private and Community Foundations® (CCSF) by delving in to responsible investing practices, policies and portfolio strategies.

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Integration of ESG Factors in Practical Steps

Posted by Bill Jarvis, Executive Director, Commonfund Institute on Jul 1, 2016

Topic: Asset Allocation Governance and Policy Investment Strategy Responsible Investing

In the current climate of slow global economic growth and resource constraints at many institutions, integration of ESG considerations in an organization’s investment portfolio may be perceived as a luxury or an unacceptable distraction. ESG implementation does not, however, need to be an all or-nothing decision. A sliding scale of engagement is available for institutions that decide to explore ESG...

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Commonfund Roundup
06-29-16

Posted by Commonfund on Jun 29, 2016

Topic: Asset Allocation Governance and Policy Industry Knowledge Investment Strategy Market Commentary Responsible Investing Risk Management

In this month’s Commonfund Roundup, active management and risk are leading topics. Featured articles include: an interview in Institutional Investor with CEO, Catherine Keating, where she discusses the active-versus-passive debate and more; and “Active Management Fatigue and What to Do About it,” co-authored by Kristofer Kwait, Head of Investments; Jess Gaspar, Head of Asset Allocation and Research; and John Delano, Head of Analytics. Also included, the new white paper, "Striking the Balance: A Fiduciary Approach to Risk and the Investment Policy"; the latest weekly economic podcasts and more.

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Bridging the Gap: Carbon and Fiduciary Responsibility

Posted by Alex Gurvich on Jun 20, 2016

Topic: Asset Allocation Governance and Policy Responsible Investing

Most institutional investor discussions and actions regarding global warming have been at two ends of the spectrum: either divest from fossil fuels entirely or remain fully invested. A better approach would be to change the conversation from a tug of war over a binary decision, between investment considerations and environmental appeals, to a more balanced discussion centered on common objectives.

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Responsible Investing for Foundations

Posted by Commonfund Institute on Jun 13, 2016

Topic: Asset Allocation Investment Strategy Responsible Investing

Commonfund and Council on Foundations are thrilled to announce the release of the 2016 Council on Foundations – Commonfund Study of Responsible Investing. It is the largest and most detailed survey to date on practices, policies and attitudes relating to socially-responsible investing (SRI), environmental, social and governance integration (ESG) and impact or mission-related investing (MRI) among U.S. private and public founda­tions. The Study encompasses both the policies of foundations that have adopted any of the responsible investing practices listed and the attitudes toward responsible investing of those that have not.

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Common Concerns about Responsible Investing

Posted by Bill Jarvis, Executive Director, Commonfund Institute on Jun 6, 2016

Topic: Governance and Policy Investment Strategy Responsible Investing

Discussions about whether responsible investing strategies help or hurt investment performance are complicated by the fact that, there are several broad categories of responsible investing practice and they influence portfolios in different ways. Many institutions have concerns about whether and how to apply ESG investing practices to their portfolio. These reservations stem partly from their past experience with SRI and partly because ESG investing has only recently become more widespread. While there are many concerns about responsible investing, the most common concerns...

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Ideas for Next Gen Energy Investing

Posted by Ethan Levine | Stuart Ames, Managing Director, Commonfund Strategic Solutions | Phil Deutch | Robert Armstrong on May 17, 2016

Topic: Asset Allocation Industry Knowledge Investment Strategy Responsible Investing

Advances in alternative energy technologies promise to reduce the world’s dependence on fossil fuels. Largely, however, they remain just that—a promise. So, where are the opportunities to invest in the evolving energy environment? At Commonfund Forum 2016, a panel discussion took on this question.

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Responsible Investing:
Terminology and Background

Posted by Bill Jarvis, Executive Director, Commonfund Institute on May 9, 2016

Topic: Industry Knowledge Responsible Investing

The terms socially-responsible investing (SRI), mission-related investing, impact investing and environmental, social and governance (ESG) investing – all frequently grouped under the heading of responsible investing – have become a familiar part of the vocabulary of institutional and retail investors. Just what these terms mean in practice, however, and how their practitioners’ claims can be impartially assessed, has been less clear.

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Shaping the Future of Responsible Investment

Posted by Commonfund on Apr 27, 2016

Topic: Investment Strategy People Responsible Investing

Commonfund CEO and President Catherine Keating was a panelist at the PRI 10-year Anniversary Conference & Dinner in New York City. The panel, entitled “Is responsible investment ready to impact the world?” was moderated by Michael Wursthorn, Reporter, The Wall Street Journal.

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Sample IPS Rider for Responsible Investing

Posted by William F. Jarvis, Managing Director, Commonfund Institute on Feb 19, 2016

Topic: Industry Knowledge Responsible Investing

A number of clients and prospects have asked how their Investment Policy Statement (IPS) can be amended to accommodate responsible investing strategies. In response, we have prepared a rider which can be inserted into the IPS of institutions that are seeking to engage in Socially Responsible Investing (SRI), Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) investing, Impact investing or total or partial divestment of fossil fuel-related investments.

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Sample Investment Policy Statement Responsible Investing Rider

Posted by Commonfund on Feb 19, 2016

Topic: Governance and Policy Industry Knowledge Responsible Investing

Download the sample investment policy statement rider on responsible investing strategies.

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Obama Clean Power Plan Stayed by Supreme Court

Posted by William F. Jarvis, Managing Director, Commonfund Institute on Feb 12, 2016

Topic: Industry Knowledge Responsible Investing

As anticipated in our white paper, Fiduciary Duty & Environmental Responsibility: Crafting a Low Carbon Response, states and industry groups opposed to President Obama’s action to impose stringent EPA regulations on coal-fired power plants have acted quickly to file lawsuits seeking to block the measure.

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New Environmental Regulations and the Impact on Fiduciaries

Posted by Bill Jarvis, Executive Director, Commonfund Institute on Jan 20, 2016

Topic: Governance and Policy Responsible Investing

Developments in world financial markets seem to occur more quickly every year, requiring ever-higher levels of expertise and experience on the part of investment committees. Climate change is a more slowly-evolving issue that will require a more strategic approach from trustees and investments committees. The Paris Agreement and the Clean Power Plan clearly raise important investment considerations for institutional investors. In addition, beyond portfolio considerations, practical issues suggest themselves.

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Fiduciary Duty & Environmental Responsibility: Crafting A Low Carbon Response

Posted by Bill Jarvis, Executive Director, Commonfund Institute on Jan 20, 2016

Topic: Responsible Investing

Developments in world financial markets seem to occur more quickly every year, requiring ever-higher levels of expertise on the part of investment committees. Climate change is a more slowly-evolving issue that will require a more strategic approach from trustees and investment committees.

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Duke-UNC Earn Top Honors at 2015 Commonfund Low Carbon Portfolio Competition

Posted by Commonfund on Nov 23, 2015

Topic: Responsible Investing

On November 13th, 2015, a team of MBA students from Duke and the University of North Carolina earned first place and the $10,000 prize in the 2nd Annual Low Carbon Portfolio Case Competition sponsored by Commonfund. Ten MBA teams competed hailing from Columbia Business School, University of Maryland Smith School of Business, University of Connecticut School of Business, Yale School of Management, EGADE Business School (Mexico), Cornell Johnson School of Management, Boston College Carroll School of Management, and a mixed team from Duke Fuqua and UNC Kenan-Flagler Schools of Business.

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Commonfund Roundtable | Impact Investing

Posted by Paul Von Steenburg, Managing Director, Commonfund | Roundtable Participants on Aug 17, 2015

Topic: Industry Knowledge Responsible Investing

Impact investing is showing growth around the world. According to the most recent J.P. Morgan/Global Impact Investing Network Impact Investor Survey, the number of institutional investors engaging in meaningful impact investing (committing $10 million or more to impact investments) increased by 26 percent in 2014, and the amount such investors planned to commit to impact investments was projected to increase by 19 percent to $12.7 billion in 2014 from $10.6 billion in 2013.

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Impact Investing

Posted by Paul Von Steenburg, Managing Director, Commonfund on Jul 1, 2015

Topic: Governance and Policy Responsible Investing

Recently, Commonfund convened an expert panel of investment managers to hold  a roundtable discussion and take a closer look at the different impact investing strategies being implemented today.The roundtable participants were: Timothy Coffin, Senior Vice President of Breckinridge Capital Advisors; David Richardson, CFA, Head of Business Development and Client Service for Impax Asset Management in…

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Responsible Investing: Endowment Survey

Posted by Commonfund on Apr 19, 2015

Topic: Responsible Investing

Commonfund Institute, NACUBO and AGB survey builds upon the 2014 NACUBO-Commonfund Study of Endowments® by delving in to responsible investing practices, policies and portfolio strategies. Topics covered include: defining responsible investing practices; current investment practices; policies and procedures; views on responsible investing; and potential portfolio changes.

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Viewpoint: Alphabet Soup – Responsible Investing

Posted by Bill Jarvis, Executive Director, Commonfund Institute on Oct 12, 2014

Topic: Governance and Policy Industry Knowledge Responsible Investing

Responsible investing has been used as an umbrella term that includes some investment practices of long standing and some that are relatively new arrivals. Simple, clear definitions of responsible investing practices are not difficult to find; here are the ones...

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ESG – What is it?

Posted by Stuart Ames, Managing Director, Commonfund Strategic Solutions | David Belmont, CFA, Chief Risk Officer on May 1, 2014

Topic: Governance and Policy Industry Knowledge Responsible Investing

Generally speaking, Environmental Social and Governance, or ESG for short, is used to describe a group of characteristics that can have a material impact on the long-term success of a company and, potentially, its long-term investment returns.

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ESG: sharpening the point

Posted by Stuart Ames, Managing Director, Commonfund Strategic Solutions | Lauren Caplan, Assistant General Counsel, Commonfund | David Belmont, CFA, Chief Risk Officer on Apr 12, 2014

Topic: Industry Knowledge Responsible Investing

In general, ESG is used to describe a group of characteristics that can have a material impact on the long-term success of a company and, potentially, investment returns. Examples of the “E” in ESG criteria include environmental factors, such as energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions; examples of the “S” include social factors, such as supply-chain risk management, corporate citizenship, gender and racial diversity, and employee productivity; examples of the “G” include governance factors, such as independent board leadership and CEO compensation.

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Subscribe & Manage Your Frequency to Insights Blog

Posted by Commonfund on Jan 5, 2014

Topic: Asset Allocation Equities Fixed Income Governance and Policy Hedge Funds Industry Knowledge Market Commentary Operating Assets Outsourced Investing Partners People Private Capital Quant Strategies Responsible Investing Risk Management

Subscribe to the Insights Blog from Commonfund to stay informed with the latest information for nonprofit investors and the public sector.

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From SRI to ESG: The Changing World of Responsible Investing

Posted by Bill Jarvis, Executive Director, Commonfund Institute | John Griswold, Founder and Senior Advisor, Commonfund Institute on Sep 19, 2013

Topic: Responsible Investing

Thoughtful investment professionals continue to debate whether a portfolio’s long-term performance can be enhanced by including environmental, social and governance (ESG) considerations in the security selection process, but responsible investing is more than a passing trend. Long-term fiduciaries should educate themselves on the fundamental arguments for and against ESG, and think critically about its meaning for the institutions they serve.

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ESG and your institution

Posted by Stuart Ames, Managing Director, Commonfund Strategic Solutions | Lauren Caplan, Assistant General Counsel, Commonfund on Apr 12, 2013

Topic: Industry Knowledge Responsible Investing

Investing according to environmental, social and governance principles is maturing into a distinct discipline. Robust research results dispute the conventional wisdom about performance trade-offs. If your institution has yet to consider ESG seriously, it may be time to take a closer look. For decades, institutional investors have struggled with the challenges posed by “responsible” investing. These investors faced a wide range of issues—definition, measurement and objective-setting among them. But, the most pervasive question was—and continues to be—whether socially responsible investing (SRI) screens or today’s more all-encompassing environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors help or hurt long-term investment performance.

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