Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Moving ESG Beyond Policy into Practice

Bankers Seek Common Ground with Politicians

Author: David Schwartz J.D. CPA

Accountability in voting is in the news, and nowhere more so than on Wall Street. Through their U.S. credit policy association and its Asian counterpart, Bankers have responded to suspicion among critics that problems abound in the murkiness of the proxy voting practices of asset managers for large pensions, mutual funds, and other institutional investors. With the launch of the "Global Framework for ESG and Securities Lending (GFESL)," the partnership by the two industry associations aims to provide a shared decision-making framework for managing ESG considerations in securities lending. But does it go far enough?

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Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Managing Cash for Changing Flows and Structures

Securities Finance Strategies: 1988 - 2005

Author: Ed Blount

Since 1980, the cash-based securities lending program has evolved to become the prevalent form of collateral management model in the United States. By 2005, U.S.-domiciled insurers, pension funds, mutual funds and corporate treasurers had securities valued at more than $1.25 trillion on loan. This evolution has not come without difficulties. In the 1990s, securities lenders found that a rising interest rate environment suddenly depressed the value of their cash collateral investments, in some cases to the point of loss when lenders were unexpectedly required to return cash deposits to borrowers.  A few lenders sustained losses that exceeded the income they had earned over the course of several years, although in several cases agent lenders absorbed the damages in order to protect their franchises.

[reprinted from 2005]

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Categories: All, Traditions

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Saturday, May 22, 2021

Get Your ESG House in Order

Here Come the Regulators.

Author: David Schwartz J.D. CPA

Environmental, social, and governance (ESG) investing has taken global financial markets by storm over the last few years. Post-pandemic, the demand for ESG investments has only intensified and has proven to be much more durable than a fad. However, lack of consistency and transparency threatens the trustworthiness of ESG as a category, and has led to accusations of 'greenwashing.'  As a result, US regulators and their counterparts in the EU and UK have begun building regulatory and enforcement momentum, focusing on the quality and accuracy of ESG disclosures by asset managers and investment funds. Accounting and other standard setters have joined their regulatory brethren in calling for consistency in financial and non-financial ESG reporting.

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Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Live by the Sword. Die by the Sword. Part 1

How the Online Gamestop Crowd Missed the Big Picture

Author: David Schwartz J.D. CPA

January's GameStop frenzy, where amateur online retail traders took what they hoped would be a rollicking joyride through the world of high finance, has left regulators scratching their heads about what to do next and the retail buccaneers themselves with quite a hangover. Some of the online buccaneers have made their next move clear and filed a class-action lawsuit against seemingly everyone who's anyone in the world of retail and wholesale securities trading. The lesson to take away from the GameStop frenzy may be that structures, securities finance markets, and participants reacted to the online investors' disruptive and provocative activity as they should have. Collusion or conspiracy was not necessary to prompt the built-in guardrails and circuit-breakers to engage. They could not have been expected to react otherwise. The online buccaneers have perhaps learned that what you don't know can, indeed, hurt you. And when you live by the sword, you die by the sword. 

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Friday, April 23, 2021

Fund Advisers Brace for ESG Scrutiny

SEC to Mandate More Public Disclosure of Proxy Votes

Author: David Schwartz J.D. CPA
After nearly twenty years of study, the Securities and Exchange Commission seems poised to rewrite the rules on proxy disclosure for mutual funds. Two SEC commissioners predicted within days of each other that there will be radical revisions to how regulated investment companies will report their proxy voting behavior. Both Acting Chair Allison Herren Lee and Commissioner Caroline Crenshaw said in separate speeches last month that the SEC's current proxy reporting form is not meeting the needs of investors. Shareholders, they said, need more and better proxy voting information to evaluate whether fund managers are sticking to the fund's stated proxy policies, especially funds that have made commitments to ESG principles. 
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