US and the EU’s New Sustainable Investing Regulations

New EU regulations for administrators of sustainable funds, or those that invest based on environmental, social, or governance (ESG) considerations are now effective as of 10th March 2021. These portfolio managers must also reveal specifics on how they spend. The EU’s Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation (SFDR) extends to all asset managers that collect funds in the EU, regardless of where they are based. As a result, these rules would have an effect on funds available to US investors.

Capital administrators would have to report how they evaluate their firms across a variety of metrics, which will necessitate revisions to disclosures and publicity materials. Beginning in 2022, comprehensive disclosures must be given.

It is no longer all about disclosing ESG data; it is also about how you use it to accomplish unique ESG goals. 

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has announced that it will expand its examinations of fund managers to ensure that their shareholder statements are consistent with their strategies. It also examines how ESG funds vote in shareholder proxies on environmental issues to see if they are compliant with environmentally sustainable policies.

Morningstar said that beginning April 2021, it would begin collecting information on funds that describe themselves as green and making it available to consumers. Since several multinational investment managers sell almost equal portfolios in the United States and Europe, US clients can check Morningstar data on the European equivalent of their fund to see how well it adheres to the ESG mandate. 

Investors have been concerned about greenwashing in the mutual fund sector, particularly given the rapid rise in sustainable investments. The category has seen a surge in funding. According to US SIF, the trade body for the sustainable investing sector, U.S.-domiciled sustainable investments totalled $17.1 trillion at the start of 2020, up 42 percent from two years prior. This equates to about a third of all funds under administration in the United States.

Firms will aim to set themselves apart by making more comprehensive disclosures on how they use ESG investing. Since too many businesses in the United States still provide funds in Europe, this could increase sustainable investment efficiency in the United States, comparable to how automakers increased their emissions when California implemented tougher standards than the federal government.

More U.S.-based investment managers are now publishing impact reports that outline proxy voting and participation, as well as the net impact of their portfolios.

Aside from the SEC, the Labor Department is trying to make the climate more favourable to long-term investing. The department also stated that it would not implement two Trump-era guidelines that would have slowed the introduction of renewable funds, including one that would make it more difficult to incorporate them in 401(k) accounts. Since it administers and enforces the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, or Erisa, which protects the needs of employee benefit plan members and their beneficiaries, the DOL is critical to America’s retirement programs. According to analysts, the flurry of new legislation allows fund managers to tread carefully.