I recently moderated a panel for Fi360 called, “ESG Considerations for ERISA Fiduciaries.” Here is a link to the recording.
I was joined by Ali Caffery of Envestnet and Jason Blackwell of Mercer. Too many ESG panels either sidestep the fiduciary issues altogether or discuss them in such abstract terms so as to not be terribly useful. We took a practical approach and walked the audience through some of the key issues a fiduciary should take into account when considering an ESG strategy. We received really strong feedback. I want to thank again Blaine Aikin and his entire team for allowing us to speak on this important topic!
As highlighted by Ignites, Morningstar recently released a report on the growth of assets in passive funds pursuing a sustainable strategy. Interestingly, about half of the funds are thematic. Unsurprisingly, virtually all are equity funds. The US market for these types of funds continues to lag other regions, though that gap is not unique to ESG passive funds, and applies to ESG broadly.
As I wrote in Profit & Loss last year, FX service providers, particularly those in an agency capacity, should continue to monitor the fate of the DOL Fiduciary Rule, particularly for straddling the line between pure sales/marketing and those communications that may give rise to a “recommendation” under the 2016 rule. Hedging managers will stand to benefit if we revert to the 1975 rule.
Expert attorneys warn the new non-enforcement policy binds only the DOL and IRS; state regulators and private plaintiffs could potentially seek to bring an action for alleged non-compliance with impartial conduct standards.
I am here on Amelia Island, FL about to start our panel on fiduciary law developments: the SEC release (and what it means practically-speaking, the delta between adviser and broker-dealer duties, the issues around the new disclosures, etc.), the latest on the DOL Fiduciary Rule (FAB 2018-02, the Fifth Circuit decision, how firms should proceed with compliance), what is in store from state legislatures and regulators, and the recent DOL ESG guidance and how managers should view the guidance. There are over 200 attendees here and, based on questions I received last night, there is a real need for clarity on fiduciary governance at the federal and state levels!