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Are Your Retirement Savings Being Used to Undermine Our Democracy?

If large mutual fund companies like Vanguard step up to support political spending disclosure we could see big change. In the ongoing battle to roll back the effects of the Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in Citizens United (the notorious case that opened the flood gates for corporate spending in elections) major mutual fund companies can and should play a pivotal role. Americans know that secret money is being funneled into our elections every cycle, and they are not happy about it. In fact, almost two thirds of Americans are dissatisfied with the outsized influence of corporations in this country, and 78% want to see the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United overturned. Right now, publ

Unions playing key role in development

We see the work of the region's labor unions everyday, but behind the scenes, their clout as investors in a slew of major development projects continues to grow. While the Employee Real Estate Construct Trust Funds have been in business since 1987 to invest local trade union pensions money in real estate projects, they stand out for their level of involvement throughout the region. PenTrust Real Estate Advisory Services Inc., which serves as the investment manager fro the ERECT Funds, has a stake in nine major developments in the region that are either under construction or soon to be. Including a major project in Cleveland, PenTrust puts the ERECT Funds total current investment at $65.5 mil

Sokol & Hawley on Toughened DOL ESG Fiduciary Standards

Fiduciary duty is embedded in common law and that provides a framework for how trustees govern pension assets. In the forthcoming Responsible Investor Handbook, distributed by Greenleaf Publishing, we report that, outside the U.S., modernized laws drive the considerations of ESG and other non-financial issues in the management of pension assets or by investment funds. "For example, the U.K. Pensions Act (2000) requires pension funds to disclose how they account for sustainability factors in constructing their investment portfolios. Germany requires the use of sustainability criteria as part of the fiduciary's duty, and France requires public pension funds to disclose how their investment pol

The Second Shoe Falls: The Tougher DOL Fiduciary Rule on Responsible Investment

What’s NEW in USDOL Interpretive Bulletin 2015-1? This new Interpretive Bulletin is focused on how the fiduciary standard articulated in ERISA should be interpreted and applied when economically targeted investments (ETI’s) are considered. While many investment managers pay lip service to the fact that this new Bulletin says environmental, social, and governance factors may be considered when considering investment vehicles, most have been quick to say that this is nothing new, it’s simply a restatement of Bulletin 94-1, adopted during the Clinton Administration. Nothing could be less accurate. Bulletin 94-1 for the first time said that when various investment opportunities are being conside

Fiduciary Duty & ESG: Why Materiality Matters

U.S. Department of Labor ‘Guidance’ and Materiality In October 2015, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) issued a hugely important ‘guidance’ concerning ESG and fiduciary duty, with the slightly confusing title, “Interpretive Bulletin Relating to the Fiduciary Standard under ERISA in Considering Economically Targeted Investments.”[1] The somewhat misleading title focuses on economically targeted investments (ETI), but what is made very clear in the body of the interpretive bulletin the actual and broader focus is on environmental, social and governance factors (ESG). As the DOL itself clarified the title: “Various terms have been used to describe this [ETIs] and related investment behaviors

Rule on Arbitration Would Restore Right to Sue Banks

The nation’s consumer watchdog is unveiling a proposed rule on Thursday that would restore customers’ rights to bring class-action lawsuits against financial firms, giving Americans major new protections and delivering a serious blow to Wall Street that could cost the industry billions of dollars. The proposed rule, which would apply to bank accounts, credit cards and other types of consumer loans, seems almost certain to take effect, since it does not require congressional approval. In effect, the move by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau — the biggest that the agency has made since its inception in 2010 — will unravel a set of audacious legal maneuvers by corporate America that has

SASB the missing link in ESG integration

No longer can analysts use the excuse there is inadequate data for incorporating ESG into investment decisions. The Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB), a not-for-profit chaired by Michael Bloomberg with Mary Schapiro as vice chair, was formed to set market standards for disclosure of material sustainability information to investors. With “material” defined as likely to affect financial performance. The organisation – founded by Jean Rogers and made financially viable through donors including Bloomberg Philanthropies; foundations such as Ford, Rockefeller, PwC and Deloitte – is predicated on a belief that ESG factors can impact company financial performance and drive long-term v

The Responsible Investor Handbook

Our Responsible Investor Handbook, commissioned by the AFL-CIO, is scheduled to be published in July 2016 by Greenleaf Publishing as the fifth book in their responsible investor series. This important tome will educate a new generation on labor's leadership and history in responsible investing over the last century both in the U.S. and abroad. Read an overview of the book available here. Heartland, the Federation, and Greenleaf share the common goal of getting this book into the hands of every trustee and capital steward. Our friends at CORPaTH have offered a challenge by committing to order 1,000 copies. Now we need your assistance in our quest to match those 1,000 pre-sale copies of the bo

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