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Sweden, France, a Reporting Study, and Two Blogs
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Dear Fellow Supporters of Integrated Reporting,
 
At least to me, it feels like the pace at which great work is being done related to integrated reporting and sustainable development in general is accelerating. Within the past week I have received the following which I am passing along to you.

Walking the Talk? is a study by the Mistra Center for Sustainable Markets (MISUM) at the Stockholm School of Economics.  The data was collected and coded by SSE MSc students Uta Hönemann and Elisabet Ålander with the supervision of Acting Professor and MISUM’s Executive Director, Dr. Lin Lerpold (lin.lerpold@hhs.se). This report I explores sustainability communications by the 72 companies listed on the Nasdaq OMX Stockholm Large Cap index. It finds that there is more “talk” (what they discuss) than “walk” (how they report back on what they do). The report categorizes companies as talking low performers (11), silent low performers (28), silent walkers (5), and talking walkers (28). It has some very interesting detailed data and finds some clear differences across sectors.

Also from the SSE is a paper “Value Reporting Quality, Operating Performance, and Stock Market Valuations” by Florian Eugster (Florian.Eugster@hhs.se) in the Accounting Department at the  Stockholm School of Economics and Alexander F. Wagner (alexander.wagner@ bf.uzh.ch). in the Department of Banking and Finance at the Swiss Finance Institute.  It finds that “higher value reporting quality predicts higher future economic value added and economic profit.”  Here is the abstract of their paper:

 
"Going beyond just requiring more disclosure, the concept of “Value Reporting"
emphasizes the idea that it may be in firms' own interest to provide investors
and other stakeholders with a holistic picture of their value generation activities.
Using an index of value reporting quality (VRQ) that was explicitly
designed to capture variation in value reporting among firms, we document,
using more than a decade of data, that firms with better VRQ deliver better
future operating performance, obtain greater economic value added, and
exhibit higher valuation ratios. These results hold controlling for firm fixed effects
as well as with two instrumental variables approaches. For firms for which
previous literature has shown that equity prices can be relatively slow to re-
ect new information, VRQ and future excess returns were positively related
historically. However, in recent years, even for these firms, stock prices appear
to incorporate the notion that value reporting supports value generation."
 
Strengths and weaknesses of materiality assessments by CAC 40 groups reports the results of a study done by CEO Patrick D’ Humieres (pdh@institutrse.com) and Partner Nicola Jandot (nj@institutrse.com) of the French CSR think tank  and consulting firm Institut RSE Management.  They examined the methodologies used in the materiality assessments (in terms of transparency, consultative, approach, analytics, monitoring, and consistent communications) of the companies in the CAC 40 stock index. They find “five encouraging facts” and “five concerning points.” The report suggests three interesting future scenarios and has some very interesting detailed data, including sector-based analyses.

The first blog, “Could high-efficiency homes turn a mortgage backed security into a green bond?” is by Philip Henderson (phenderson@nrdc.org) of the National Resources Defense Council. I found this a very interesting and somewhat provocative and counterintuitive piece as you can see by his introductory paragraph:
     
"Could mortgage backed securities (MBS), backed by loans for high-efficiency houses, be the "impact investment" many investors are seeking and a way to fund America's clean energy future? If so, the MBS, the "toxic asset" of the 2008 financial crises, could become a virtuous 'green bond.'"

The second blog, “COP 21: Why It’s Time to Bet Big on Sustainability,” published in The Huffington Post, is by Georg Kell (georg.kell@arabesque.com), the Founding Executive Director of the UN Global Compact and now Vice Chairman of the ESG quant fund Arabesque Partners. He has an optimistic conclusion, which I share:
 
"By demonstrating that responsibility and profitability are not incompatible, but in fact wholly complementary, the movement truly will take hold. It is a future where financial performance, environmental stewardship, social responsibility and good governance go hand in hand, for the benefit of all stakeholders.

In succeeding, we can unlock trillions of assets to tackle societal priorities and usher in a new era of genuine sustainable change. This is the big bet of the 2030 agenda. And it may just work".

I hope you enjoy these recent publications.

 
Kind regards,

Bob


Robert G. Eccles | Professor of Management Practice | Harvard Business School
Facebook: facebook.com/innovatingforsustainability
Twitter: twitter.com/rgeccles
Email: reccles@hbs.edu
Phone: 617.495.8585
 
Hon. FCCA

 Movement: Meaning, Momentum, Motives, and Materiality