Are you new to responsible investing? If so, this session is for you! For those who are new to the world of ESG and responsible investing, it can be overwhelming to grasp all of the issues and terminology. In this session, RIA staff will provide an introduction to responsible investment focusing on key issues, terminology, acronyms, and market trends. This session will help those who are new to ESG to be ready for the fast-moving dialogues at the 2021 RIA Virtual Conference.
We are in a moment of societal crisis. As the climate crisis continues to escalate, the pandemic has revealed and exacerbated stark inequities along racial and socioeconomic lines. The racial injustice reckoning of 2020 led the business community to make a wide range of pledges and commitments in support of a more inclusive business landscape. Key questions arise: Are corporate governance practices sufficient to drive a more sustainable and inclusive business landscape in Canada? How does governance need to evolve? And, crucially, how can business leaders leverage their position to drive sustainability and inclusion? A panel of Canadian business leaders will join this session to explore the future of Canada's business and investment landscape, and what leaders need to do for Canada to achieve a more sustainable and inclusive economy.
Mark Carney is the United Nations Special Envoy on Climate Action and Finance and Vice Chair & Head of ESG and Impact Fund Investing at Brookfield Asset Management. Prior to his current roles, Mark served as the Governor of the Bank of Canada from 2008-13 and Governor of the Bank of England from 2013-20. He was Chair of the Financial Stability Board from 2011 to 2018, during which time he oversaw the launch of the Task Force on Climate Related Financial Disclosures. Mark is a long-time and well-known advocate for sustainability, specifically with regard to the management and reduction of climate risks. Following his keynote address, Mark will join RBC’s Doug Guzman for a candid conversation about the path forward for sustainable finance in Canada and globally.
In order to avoid catastrophic impacts from climate change, we must keep the average global temperature rise to 1.5°C over the preindustrial era. To achieve this target, global carbon emissions must decline to net-zero by approximately 2050. As a result, a growing number of companies are making commitments to align their business with net zero emissions by 2050 or sooner. In this session, representatives from Unilever and Pan American Silver will join BlackRock for a conversation about the challenges they face, and the strategies and practices they intend to leverage to put their companies on a pathway to net zero.
Brent Bergeron, Senior Vice President, Corporate Affairs and Sustainability, Pan American Silver Corp.
Michelle Edkins, Managing Director, Investment Stewardship, BlackRock
Following our earlier session with corporations about their strategies for net zero, this session will focus on strategies and practices for investors to align their portfolios with net zero emissions. The transition to a low or no-carbon portfolio presents many challenges. For instance, while selling a company’s shares may reduce the carbon footprint of a portfolio, it does not reduce actual emissions. And while stewardship and engagement will be important for many sectors, it’s possible that engagement will not drive emissions down to net zero for all companies. Key questions arise: What strategies and practices can investors use to align their portfolios with net zero? How will these efforts affect asset allocation? What are the implications for fiduciary duty? The panel will explore these questions and more.
Marie-Justine Labelle, Head of Responsible Investment, Desjardins Investments
The concept of stewardship is gaining prominence among investors globally. But what exactly does “stewardship” mean in practice? While some market participants are using the terms “stewardship” and “engagement” interchangeably, leading researchers and practitioners believe good stewardship goes far beyond proxy voting and engagement, also including factors such as collaboration, education, and more. In this session, KKS Advisors will present research on the characteristics of stewardship based on interviews with 40 leading institutional investors. We will then learn about one European asset manager’s comprehensive stewardship policy, followed by a panel discussion on key issues, trends and best practices globally.
Anuj A. Shah, Partner, Head of US & UK, KKS Advisors
Bérénice Lasfargues, ESG Specialist, BNP Paribas Asset Management
Bruce Duguid, Director, Head of Stewardship, EOS, Federated Hermes
Rosalie Vendette, Sustainable Finance Expert
The Institute for Sustainable Finance has a mandate to advance Canada’s sustainable finance capacity by fostering strong research, education and knowledge sharing, and collaboration among academia, business and government. This session will highlight the most recent research from ISF and the Canadian Sustainable Finance Network, including:
• the performance and growth in sustainable investing options
• the state of information disclosures, both in Canada and globally
• approaches to measuring and managing climate, carbon and stranded asset risks
Sean Cleary, Chair, Institute for Sustainable Finance, Smith School of Business, Queen's University
Ryan Riordan, Research Director, Institute for Sustainable Finance, Smith School of Business, Queen's University
Following our earlier session on the characteristics of stewardship practices globally, this session will cover three case studies of investment stewardship in Canada. How are leading Canadian asset managers putting stewardship into practice? What are the most effective strategies for engaging with Canadian companies? What are the biggest challenges, and how can they be overcome? And, what are some key considerations for asset managers who are interested in establishing a stewardship program? Representatives from BCI, NEI, and SHARE will share insights on these questions and more.
According to the Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN), over half of impact investors use the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to set their impact objectives, and a strong majority are concerned about “impact washing.” Against that backdrop, it is vital for market participants to promote the use of robust, credible impact measurement practices when seeking to align their portfolios with the SDGs. In this session, we will hear insights from impact investing specialists on their approaches to quantitative and qualitative impact measurement. A panel of experts will explore how to track progress and how to use data as a diagnostic tool for engagement. The panel will also explore how to capture primary and secondary targeted SDGs, and the role of storytelling to make impact measurement meaningful for stakeholders.
Muska Ulhaq, Manager, Operations and Programs, Responsible Investment Association
Alexa Blain, Co-Founder and Managing Partner, Deetken Impact
Kate Murray, Director, Impact Management, Rally Assets
Belissa Rojas, Impact Measurement and Management Lead, SDG Impact Team, UNDP
As more and more investors are looking to make an impact across asset classes, asset managers are increasingly developing impact investment products with exposure to public markets. In order to protect market integrity and mitigate “impact washing,” it is vital for market participants to ensure that impact investments are “made with the intention to generate positive, measurable social and environmental impact alongside a financial return” as specified in the Global Impact Investing Network’s widely-cited definition. So, what are the best practices for assessing the intentionality and measuring the impact of impact investments in public markets? Can impacts even be measured in both public equity and public debt? If so, how? This session will explore what impact investing means in public markets, with a focus on intentionality and measurement.
Monique Mathys-Graaff, Senior Advisor and Public Markets Lead, Impact Management Project
Sean Gilbert, Director, Member Engagement, Global Impact Investing Network
Jory Cohen, Director of Finance and Impact Investment, Inspirit Foundation
Diane Young, Senior Portfolio Manager, Fixed Income & Co-Head, Corporate Bonds, Addenda Capital
The pandemic has had enormous impacts on public health, the economy, and our daily lives. It has also had major impacts on the investment industry and reshaped how advisors engage with clients in a virtual world. In 2020, we also saw increased retail flows into ESG products. Against that backdrop, how are advisors engaging with clients around responsible investment? How has the conversation shifted in the last year, and how can advisors leverage RI to grow their client base in a virtual world? In this session, we will hear from two leading advisors and an asset management firm sharing insights, tips and best practices for ESG and client engagement in the pandemic era and beyond.
Jonathan Lo, VP and Client Portfolio Manager, AGF Investment Management
Sucheta Rajagopal, Portfolio Manager, Research Capital Corp.
Carol Smith, Financial Advisor, Desjardins Financial Security Independent Network
Melissa Shin, Editorial Director, Advisor’s Edge & Investment Executive
The CFA Institute is developing ESG disclosure standards for investment products, which will provide asset managers with a common language and a framework for presenting ESG-related information about an investment product. The Institute describes this as a “voluntary, global industry standard to provide greater product transparency and comparability for investors by enabling asset managers to clearly communicate the ESG-related features of their investment products.” In this session, representatives from the CFA Institute will present a draft of the standards and field questions from attendees.
Deborah Kidd, Director, Global Industry Standards, CFA Institute
Chris Fidler, Senior Director, Product Management, CFA Institute
There has been a rise in the number of headlines alleging “greenwashing” with respect to ESG and responsible investing. While there is no standard definition of greenwashing, it is generally understood to be an overstatement or misrepresentation of a product’s environmental or social benefits. And while there may indeed be greenwashing in the market, the complexity of responsible investing may be contributing to market confusion as well. For example, an investor may see an ESG fund that includes oil & gas stocks and conclude this is greenwashing. However, it’s possible that the fund uses ESG integration, engagement, or positive screening strategies, making no claims at all about exclusions or divestment from fossil fuels. In this case, it may be an education issue; not a greenwashing issue. How can advisors address retail clients’ concerns about greenwashing? What factors should advisors consider when discussing RI with concerned clients? What tools or resources can advisors use to prepare themselves for such conversations? A panel will explore these questions and more.
Ian Robertson, VP, Director and Portfolio Manager, Odlum Brown
Jackie Cook, Director of Investment Stewardship Research, Morningstar