The once red-hot market for unicorn investments has turned chilly. These start-up enterprises with a value of at least $1 billion have enjoyed relative easy access to private capital this cycle. Robust growth, easy credit and a fair amount of hype combined to elevate the early valuations of these companies. Peloton Interactive, Inc. (PTON), the maker of stationary bikes and treadmills, marketed itself as “selling happiness.” Ridesharing company, Lyft, Inc. (LYFT) claimed it was “at the forefront of societal change.” Corporate real estate leasing company WeWork aimed to “elevate the world’s consciousness.”
With over 75% of individual investors expressing an interest in sustainable investing, it is clear that investor demand for Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) investments is real and growing1. Yet, remarkably, only 36% of financial advisors are currently offering an ESG solution to their clients and less than 8% of co-sponsored retirement plans offer even a single ESG fund2. In that disconnect lies opportunity.
The three main concerns advisors have with environmental, sustainable and governance investing are a lack of transparency, performance concerns and client demand.
As demand for environmental, social and governance (ESG) and socially responsible investing (SRI) investment products grows, advisors are tasked with sorting out the good options from the bad. Unfortunately, there are many problematic products, many of which have been “greenwashed” or marketed in a way that makes the fund appear more ethical or responsible than it really is, which could result in tough conversations with clients.
Here are two approaches you should be careful with:
Can you believe Labor Day is behind us? With the end of the year approaching, here is a checklist of items to keep in mind when speaking with your clients this fall:
On Monday, August 19, 2019, the Business Roundtable, a group of chief executive officers from nearly 200 U.S. corporations, issued a statement1 proposing a new definition of the purpose of a corporation. This new vision included heightened corporate responsibilities toward employees, customers, suppliers, communities and the environment, rather than strictly looking to maximize profits and shareholder monetary value. The statement was signed by 181 CEOs including the heads of Apple, JPMorgan Chase and Amazon.
Although volatility hasn’t been as pronounced as in past years (we recently penned a blog on this, “Chart of the Month – How 2019 Volatility Stacks Up Against Prior Years”), trade tensions and concerns over a slowing U.S. economy have caused enough concern for more-tactical investors to take some money off the table. One investor group in particular that has trimmed its long equity exposure is hedge funds.
Hedge funds typically employ nimble, tactical investment strategies, relying on portfolio managers’ experience and expertise or specific indicators to determine when to increase exposure in their long or short books. While these funds’ short positions and relative lack of equity beta (compared to a strategic long-term, long-only equity investor) was beneficial during 2018’s fourth-quarter selloff, the majority of hedge funds then missed out on the first quarter’s rally.
The Dana Funds are distributed by Ultimus Fund Distributors, LLC. There is no affiliation between Ultimus Fund Distributors, LLC. and the firms referenced in this blog post.