SOCIALLY RESPONSIBLE INVESTMENT

Ecovalores promotes in Mexico and the region socially responsible investment (SRI); SRI takes into account additional to financial expectations, the environmental, social and corporate governance issues of the companies they decide to invest in. Socially responsible investors are individuals and institutions that seek to create change though their investment decisions and influence the environmental, social and ethical performance of the companies they invest in. SRI developed in the US and Europe and has recently been adopted in emerging markets such as Brazil and Mexico.

According to US SIF, socially responsible investment in the US is estimated in USD 6.57 trillion representing approximately 17% of the USD 25.2 trillion of total investment. In Europe it is estimated to be a higher percentage of total investment, the difference is probably due to a higher degree of pension funds regulation with respect to SRI. Ecovalores estimates that approximately 20% of those international assets may be chanelled to emerging markets, manly China and Russia but around 3 to 6% may come to Mexico and Latin-American.

Socially responsible investors are individuals and institutions, companies, universities, foundations, insurance companies, NGO’s and religious organizations. In Mexico the largest investor will be represented by pension funds, since 2011 CONSAR (www.consar.gob.mx) the Mexican pension funds regulator, published new rules regarding investment strategies which included for the first time a general reference to an obligation to analyse companies’ social responsibility credentials, literally the rule says: ”2.6 To reveal whether the administrator is certified as a Socially Responsible Company.” This is not as strict a regulation as several Nordic countries have or even the English one; however this is the beginning of a road towards SRI in the part of the Mexican pension funds, Afores, that has a potential to stimulate SRI in Mexico and the region.

There are several approaches to Socially Responsible Investment:

  • {C}Screening, which includes both positive and negative screens, is the practice of evaluating investment portfolios or mutual funds based on social, environmental and good corporate governance criteria. Screening may involve strong corporate social responsibility (CSR) performers, avoiding poor performers, or otherwise incorporating CSR factors into the process of investment analysis and management. Generally, social investors seek to own profitable companies that make positive contributions to society. “Buy” lists may include enterprises with, for example, good employer-employee relations, strong environmental practices, products that are safe and useful, and operations that respect human rights around the world.

Conversely, many social investors avoid investing in companies whose products and business practices are harmful to individuals, communities, or the environment. It is a common mistake to assume that SRI “screening” is simply exclusionary, or only involves negative screens. In reality, SRI screens are being used more and more frequently to invest in companies that are leaders in adopting clean technologies and exceptional social and governance practices.

  • {C}Shareholder advocacy involves socially responsible investors who take an active role as the owners of shares. These efforts include talking (or “dialoguing”) with companies on issues of social, environmental or governance concerns. Shareholder advocacy also frequently involves filing, and co-filing shareholder resolutions on such topics as corporate governance, climate change, political contributions, gender/racial discrimination, pollution, problem labour practices and a host of other issues. Shareholder resolutions are then presented for a vote to all owners of a corporation.

The process of dialogue and filing shareholder resolutions generates investor pressure on company management, often garners media attention, and educates the public on social, environmental and labour issues. Such resolutions filed by SRI investors are aimed at improving company policies and practices, encouraging management to exercise good corporate citizenship and promoting long-term shareholder value and financial performance. Learn more about shareholder advocacy

  • {C}Community Investing directs capital from investors and lenders to communities that are underserved by traditional financial services institutions. Community investing provides access to credit, equity, capital, and basic banking products that these communities would otherwise lack. In the US and around the world, community investing makes it possible for local organizations to provide financial services to low-income individuals and to supply capital for small businesses and vital community services, such as affordable housing, child care, and healthcare.

According to the Social Investment Forum (http://ussif.org/), Socially Responsible Investing (SRI) in 2014 was estimated $6.57 trillion, in the US there are around 925 socially screened mutual fund products, with assets of $4.31 trillion. SRI mutual funds span a range of investments, including domestic and international investments, and a growing range of products are available, including hedge funds and ETFs (exchange traded funds) 

SRI has been traditionally focused in developed markets, however ever since the 2008-9 financial crisis, investors have turned to emerging markets. Ecovalores estimates that approximately 20% of SRI investments may be directed to emerging markets, mainly China and Russia. However some 3 to 6% of this emerging markets SRI may go to Mexico and the rest of Latin-America.

With this perspective, SRI in Mexico and Latin-America has a very good outlook for growth. Ecovalores’ mission is to empower responsible investment in México and in the region by working with the financial sector and promoting the United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment (UNPRI).

Ecovalores is Empowering Responsible Investment (EIRIS) Mexican partner. EIRIS is the global leader provider of environmental, social and governance (ESG) research on listed companies. EIRIS has more than 31 years of experience in ESG research and has developed its methodology by an interactive process with companies, experts in each field, consultants and NGO’s.

ERIS’ research methodology is a process of analyzing publicly available information sources where each company researched has a chance of commenting on its own profile.

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