Mutual funds that incorporate ESG factors into their investment process, or are marketed as ESG-specific, are showing positive sales growth. Is this related to the global temperature increase and continued climate change risks outlined in the recent IPCC report? Perhaps, but whether one or more of those risks is sufficiently material to investors is still being debated, though recent a recent survey shows that investors are starting to view ESG as directly affecting performance. Yet, in the 2018 Callan ESG survey, lack of (sufficient) data showing a link between investment performance and one or more ESG factors was cited as a top reason why institutional investors were not incorporating ESG factors or investing in ESG products. As more and more studies come out on the issue of materiality, we can, therefore, expect greater adoption. The Department of Labor placed particular emphasis on this point in its April guidance.
George Michael Gerstein advises financial institutions on the fiduciary and prohibited transaction provisions of ERISA. As co-chair of the fiduciary governance group, he assists clients with tracking, and understanding, the numerous fiduciary developments at the federal and state levels, including the rules and regulations of governmental plans. He also advises clients with respect to the fiduciary duty implications of ESG investing.