[SFM Participants] Taking the nSFM debate to the mainstream media

Jay Owen SRI/ESG News, Beyond GDP



I’ve recently had 2 opportunities to argue the case for sustainable markets in mainstream fora and I thought you might be interested to see them but also I wanted to raise a generic idea.


The first was a TV debate about financial reporting with the UK regulator, FRC and the auditors, Grant Thornton.  http://www.worldfinance.com/videos/financial-reporting-utopia-isnt-achievable-says-panelist-in-debate


I was a bit surprised to see that the dominant narrative remains that if investors want “extra” info they must ask companies for it.  I do share the view investors should be much more vocal, and the debacle over HCM reporting in the USA is just one example.  But in this interview, I thought I should defend the investor position a bit, focusing on what investors are doing – through EFFAS, SASB & Sustainable Stock Exchange – whilst also making the point that regulator passivity is not fit for purpose when there is persistent reporting/market failure.  Mark van Clieaf, Alan Willis & I also make these points in our recent piece for Top1000 funds: http://www.top1000funds.com/analysis/2014/06/11/what-investors-really-need-addressing-shortcomings-in-current-corporate-reporting/


You can join this debate on Twitter a@worldfinance – remember to include #FinancialReporting.  If anyone knows regulators who have done more than FRC, it would be great to give examples.  I also wonder how we could push auditing firms more?


Second, I was very pleased to be invited to join the CFA Institute on-line forum about ESG.  http://blogs.cfainstitute.org/investor/2014/06/19/esg-issues-in-investing-what-why-and-why-not-online-forum/ (there are 2 pages of comments!)   It’s great to see the CFA move in this direction: well done to Jason, Usman and colleagues!  It was a rich discussion with some interesting comments from all the panelists.  What I tried to do was connect the ESG debate with some of the more strategic debates the CFA is concerned about.  I’d be interested to hear what you think about what was said, where you agree or disagree, but most important, how we can get movement on where there was some consensus (eg we are talking about transformation, not minor adaptations).


May be we could do a nSFM follow up and also engage concerned others who are not on this listserve?


More generally, and given that many nSFMers do good interviews and articles, I am wondering how we can collate this expertise and make it available to the mainstream media in a proactive manner?  Look at how universities facilitate media access to their experts and how think-tanks send out the best blogs from friendly experts without endorsing them (see the example below).  It seems to me that there is a new openness at least in some parts of the media for “positive deviant” or contrarian commentators.  And whilst there is clearly an audience for the ‘Max Keiser’ type commentator, I think nSFMers could offer another approach.  Steve Podmore is working with CNBC to create a panel of experts and he can say more about this.  I’m wondering if we couldn’t do this for several channels – there are now enough of us!