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EY Investor Survey, Update on The Statement Campaign, and an FT Article by John Authers
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Dear Fellow Supporters of Integrated Reporting,
 
First of all, I want to give you a head’s up that this will be a busy week of messages from me. In addition to this one, you’ll be receiving one tomorrow, and one on Wednesday. Both are important projects that I’ve been aware of for a while and so I know when they are going to released to the public. Those responsible for them have kindly agreed to work with me to get the word out to you as soon as they hit the public domain.
 
This e-mail concerns a recent EY investor survey, an update on The Statement of Significant Audiences and Materiality Campaign, and a recent article by John Authers of the Financial Times titled “Vote of no confidence in shareholder capitalism.”
 
Tomorrow’s Investment Rules 2.0
 
Many of you will recall the excellent first survey of institutional investors published by EY last year.  Tomorrow’s Investment Rules 2.0, published last week, is EY’s second annual survey looking at institutional investor’s views on the use of non-financial information in decision making.
 
Over 200 global institutional investors were surveyed for this year’s report, which highlights investor concerns over the availability and appropriateness of non-financial information, the impacts of different forms of risks on decision making, and the growing threat of stranded assets.
 
A number of interesting insights around the future of investor decision making have been identified, which include:
 
A number of interesting insights around the future of investor decision making have been identified, which include:
  • Institutional investors are increasingly using structured, methodical evaluation of companies’ environmental and social impact statements and disclosures
  • The majority of investors are concerned about impact of stranded assets on investments
  • Investors increasingly rule out investment immediately based on certain non-financial disclosures
  • Investors rate risks higher this year for climate change and human rights
If you would like more information about this report you can contact Dr. Matthew Bell (matthew.bell@au.ey.com), Oceania Climate Change and Sustainability Services Leader.
 
Update on The Statement of Significant Audiences and Materiality Campaign
 
We now have memos from 26 countries: Australia, Austria, Brazil, China, Chile, Colombia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Poland, Russia, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Another 10 or so countries are in process. As these opinions are completed in the coming months, with the permission of the firms preparing them, I will send them along. I am also in the exploratory phase in another roughly 10 countries. My goal is to have opinions from all of the G20 countries and 10-15 important other ones by the end of the year. In terms of the G20, I’m pleased to say that the firms preparing the ones still in process have promised to get them to me by the end of the year.
 
As you all now know, these legal memos are being posted on the ABA’s Sustainable Development Task Force website's "Duty of Board Directors" section. My thanks again to Lee DeHihns, the Chair of the Task Force, for making this possible. I very much appreciate the pro bono contributions that have been made so far, all of which are posted here. Tim and I will soon start working with the UN Global Compact to solicit opinions from as many countries where these memos are relevant. We want to have as complete a data base as possible.
 
The purpose of this campaign, as all of you know, is to urge companies to have their board of directors issue an annual “Statement of Significant Audiences and Materiality.” While this statement is values neutral (e.g., the board can decide that the only significant audience is short-term shareholders so the company can play the earnings game), you all know that my goal for this is to support integrated reporting and the creation of a sustainable society.
 
John Authers’ FT Article
 
Speaking of the Statement Campaign. It is mentioned in a brilliant piece by John Authers of the FT, “Vote of no confidence in shareholder capitalism,” that was published on October 23. He begins by asking “What exactly does shareholder capitalism expect of the people who run companies and who invest in them? And if it does not expect enough, does that mean we should try something other than shareholder capitalism?” He then says: “These esoteric questions are growing ever more practical.”
 
Further in his piece he raises the issue of the fiduciary duty of company board directors and investment funds. In terms of the former, he states that “First, Bob Eccles, a management professor at Harvard, is leading a campaign that would make companies publish a statement of materiality—just what they think is material for investors. This might or might not include climate change, but they should be required to say. He also questions the notion that directors, who are required to act in the interests of the company, should interpret that narrowly as meaning the interests only of shareholder.” The second line of attack he discusses is alternative corporate forms, such as the benefit corporation.
 
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