US SIF Head of Research Meg Voorhes recently sat down with Alyce Lomax, a senior writer and analyst at Motley Fool specializing in ESG issues. The following lightly edited transcript of the interview was first published by Motley Fool One and is reprinted here with permission.
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When I think of socially responsible investing, and environmental, social, and governance investing, I think of US SIF (the Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment). This is the organization at the center of the movement, providing great information, resources, and monitoring the evolving field.
I was lucky enough to sit down recently with Meg Voorhes, director of research at US SIF. Our conversation is transcribed below. With BlackRock's latest action regarding corporate CEOs, Hollywood's #MeToo movement, and companies like Exxon Mobile rising up against climate change, the world is changing quickly. Where do we go from here, and how do investors get involved? Meg shares her thoughts on this and more.
Meg, could you could tell us a little bit about the US SIF and your work there?
Thank you, Alyce! US SIF
, the Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment, is the membership association for investment professionals in this field. We have about 300 firms and organizations that are members, and together they account for about $3 trillion under management or advisement.
The important thing is that we're all united by a vision of using investment capital to help build a more sustainable and equitable economy. To do that, we do a lot of public education and outreach. We have a research program. Probably our most famous research product is our biennial report
on sustainable, responsible, and impact investing trends in the United States. We're getting geared up to conduct the research and start the survey for our 2018 edition.
We have an annual conference to which not only our members come, but many people who are interested in the field and learning more about it. We offer online and live courses for financial advisors and others who want to learn the fundamentals of sustainable and impact investing.
We also work on public policy issues. Until a few years ago, for instance, the Department of Labor, which provides guidance for fiduciaries of private sector retirement plans, had very confusing guidance regarding whether you could consider environmental, social, and governance factors if you were a fiduciary for retirement plans. And we got the Department of Labor up to date to recognize that modern portfolio managers and fiduciaries are considering these environmental, social, and governance risks and opportunities, and probably many fiduciaries should be incorporating ESG issues into their investment policies.
So, that's a range of the programs that we work on but, basically, we're trying to advance the field and encourage more people and investors to get involved in this area.
That's wonderful. Yes, I have attended some of your conferences. I've taken one of your courses, which I really enjoyed. I found it so useful. And I love that Trends Report. I always get so excited when that comes out, so that's always exciting news. I think we'll talk a little bit about that in a bit.
Right from the get-go, I noticed some things fairly recently. I feel like there's a change in the acronym for SRI right now. Most of us know that term as meaning socially responsible investing,
but I've seen that more organizations, including yours, are using it to denote sustainable, responsible, and impact investing. It seems to me that illustrates an evolution in the area, and I was wondering if you had any thoughts on that aspect of things.
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