“Behold, my child, the Nordic man, and be as like him as you can,” exhorted Hilaire Belloc in Talking (and Singing) of the Nordic man.
That was before “Taking the Temperature“, a recent report from Insight Investment and Ethix SRI Advisors, found the 40 largest companies in the Nordic region are lagging significantly behind their European peers in their management of climate change risks and opportunities.
Am I the only one who thought, along with Belloc, the Nordic region was full of hearty outdoor types who would understand the importance of climate change? Apparently, although the companies surveyed are trying to sort out their governance and management with respect to climate change, most of them expect to increase their greenhouse gas emissions in the future.
It is particularly ironic given the commitment of the Norwegian government pension fund to ethical and sustainable investment. Clearly the domestic fund, which invests solely in Norwegian securities, has failed to demand sufficient of its investee companies.
The demand for climate change funds is set to soar, according to research commissioned by Pictet Funds. That’s right, demand for, not returns from.
Fortunately, it just so happens Pictet has a range of funds it feels fit that description. It’s not clear who the target audience of the press release is – surely it would be simpler just to email the seven Pictet partners who stand to profit from the firm’s canny trend-spotting and product development?
Are investors really so simple they are more likely to buy funds because financial advisers say they think they will sell more of them? Sadly yes.
Was it all a dream?
I had to pinch myself to make sure I was awake. I was having lunch with the head of equities from a German fund manager at a Conran restaurant near Tower Bridge. I had asked what trends he saw and the answer flowed as smoothly as the sparkling Perrier.
“I predict a convergence between traditional and alternative fund managers, as long-only managers start to incorporate the new techniques available under Ucits into their toolkit. There is also a blurring between institutional and retail – all these boundaries are blurring,” he said.
This visionary also thought it was possible some investors would ask for more account to be taken of sustainability principles in investing, while he had heard of ETFs, but didn’t think they were likely to take off.
It was as if the whole of the last 18 months had been a dream.
Lord Myners: criticism
Various fund managers have owned up to being a bit pathetic when it came to challenging powerful banking figures. They have been roundly castigated by the likes of Lord Myners and Hector Sants for their failure to act as responsible owners, and cannot expect to escape notice in Sir David Walker’s review of corporate governance in the banking industry when that is published later this week.
No doubt they could and should have been a bit less accommodating of banks’ plans for world domination, but in the end there is limit to the sanction they can apply. Passive trackers, which probably hold the biggest stakes, cannot threaten to sell, and active managers rarely hold large enough stakes to make selling much of an issue for a company.
Rainforest in Panama
Did you have an egg or bacon for breakfast? Did you use shampoo or showergel containing palm oil this morning? If you did, the chances are a little bit of the rainforest was destroyed for your morning.
“We are eating the rainforest every day without knowing it,” says Andrew Mitchell, head of the Forest Footprint Disclosure project steering committee and executive director of the Global Canopy Programme. If you are a fund manager, your investments are also probably responsible for large swathes of tropical rainforest being bulldozed.