Universal Ownership: The Supertankers of Global Finance are Shifting Course

In The News Piece in ImpactAlpha
Oct. 30, 2017

The Bretton Woods II Responsible Asset Allocator Initiative was featured in an article by ImpactAlpha:

The think tank New America has published a list of such leaders, 25 SWFs (sovereign wealth funds, quasi-national funds generally endowed with natural resource or other common wealth) and GPFs (government pension funds, though some asset managers are private firms contracted to manage retiree funds). Those leaders represent $4.9 trillion in assets under management.
The thinktank, as part of its its Bretton Woods II initiative, did a deep research dive on 121 funds, representing $15 trillion in assets. (Dalberg, the Global Development Incubator and the Fletcher School at Tufts supported the project.)
The distribution of scores between the leaders and laggards is striking. It appears the 25 leaders are indeed “positive deviants” when it comes to criteria such as intention, implementation and benchmarks and, particularly, commitment to, their “responsible” investment strategies. Leaders also scored higher than the overall average in their attention to frontier (some would call them “growth”) markets and to “sustainability.” But on both counts, strikingly, even the leaders’ scores were below ‘5’ on a scale of 10.
Among the Universal Leaders were asset owners who have publicly staked out “responsible” positions, such as Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, CalPERS and New York State Common Retirement Fund.
The think tank makes available broad ratings for the full list of 121 funds, so pensioners, citizens and other stakeholders should have a field day asking their wealth managers about the ratings. Many of the funds have public trustees, including elected officials, who can be asked to explain why the boards have opted out of such “responsible” investment practices. What are the long-term risks? What is fiduciary duty? What level of urgency is appropriate?