Friday, November 23, 2012

Ellmen resigns from Social Investment Organization

The Social Investment Organization announced today that long-time executive director Eugene Ellmen will be leaving his position to assume a new role as National Director for Oikocredit Canada.

Ellmen has been the SIO’s executive director since 1999.

“The SRI industry in Canada is indebted to Eugene for the hard work and dedication he has brought to his role at the SIO over the last 13 years”, said Gary Hawton, President of the SIO.  “He will be greatly missed at the SIO and our loss is definitely Oikocredit’s gain. Eugene and I have spoken about his new role and it is a natural fit and progression for him; and it keeps him well within the SRI industry given the interplay between SRI and development finance,” added Hawton.   
In his new position, Ellmen will collaborate with the three Oikocredit Support Associations in Vancouver, Toronto and Halifax in order to represent Oikocredit nationally with the SRI community, cooperatives, financial advisors, the media and prospective new investors.
“We see many opportunities for Oikocredit in Canada and decided to recruit a national representative,” said Ylse van der Schoot, Director, Investor Relations at Oikocredit International. “We are pleased Eugene is joining us, because his level of experience, his network and skills will be very beneficial to Oikocredit.”     
Ellmen will continue his duties as SIO Executive Director until mid-January. The SIO’s board is developing a transition plan to put a new Executive Director in place in advance of the SIO’s national conference in Vancouver in June 2013.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Globe story provokes backlash in SRI community

A Globe & Mail story suggesting that socially responsible investing is not the best approach to building a sound investment portfolio produced a strong reaction among the SRI community, with advocates accusing the Globe writer of failing to do his homework on the subject.

“The problem with SRI is that you limit your universe of stocks,” said Globe writer David Berman in the controversial article. “And this limit simply cannot do a better job of building wealth.”

Berman went on to argue that there are better things to do with your money, such as giving it away to a good cause.

“As Vice President NEI Ethical Funds & ESG Services, I read this story with great interest and disappointment. I believe you have completely missed the mark with your take on socially responsible investing,” said Ethical Funds’ Bob Walker.

Walker noted that the NEI Ethical Global Dividend Fund and the NEI Special Equity Fund are both four star Morningstar rated funds, and as at October 31, 2012, the NEI Ethical Global Dividend Fund is first quartile in all time periods. “So comparing the performance of SRIs to charitable giving is a woefully inaccurate position to take.”

“The proof is out there -- evidence shows that socially responsible companies do better in the long run,” Walker added

“There is a great deal of research confirming that investors do not have to compromise returns when aligning their investments with their values,” said Ian Bragg, associate director of research and policy at the Social Investment Organization. “In fact, we recently published an article showing that socially responsible investing mutual funds perform strongly relative to their peers in virtually all major asset classes.”

"As a social investment financial advisor, I find Mr. Berman's article is totally lacking in research," said Ross Campbell. "Ian Bragg of the Social Investment Organization has done extensive research comparing social value/ethical funds with mainstream mutual funds and has found in almost all categories that the mutual funds that had social screens and used ESG criteria outperformed mainstream funds. Mr. Berman might want to check with Ian Bragg before he writes his next article on social investing."

There are dozens more comments on the article on the Globe website, many in support of SRI. It's heartening to see the community coming together to debunk common myths about SRI.