Practical analysis for investment professionals
22 September 2014

Sustainable Investing: Five Videos to Watch

Climate change made global headlines on Sunday, 21 September 2014. People across the world took to the streets in the People’s Climate March, reportedly the largest climate change demonstration ever, to demand action. With its effects being increasingly felt and feared globally, climate change is relevant not just to the natural world but also to investing. There is one strand of investing in which it is among the most important issues, if not the single most important issue: sustainable investing.

Yet despite the persistent news coverage of climate change and the growing understanding of the various environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues in investing, many would agree that there is still a lack of clarity about sustainable investing. Here are five carefully curated videos on sustainable investing that stand out for their focus, the strength of their content, and the effectiveness of their delivery.

The Truth About Sustainability Investing

This short introductory video, made by the sustainable investment firm RobecoSAM, provides an insightful overview of the discipline and is an excellent jumping-off point for further study. Among the video’s other virtues: it employs a commonsense approach, intelligent use of multimedia, and a catchy title. Curiously, RobecoSAM prefers the relatively obscure term “sustainability investing” rather than the more common “sustainable investing.” This peculiarity aside, the video has attracted more than 160,000 views, which makes it perhaps the most-watched video on sustainable investing.

The Investment Logic for Sustainability

In this well-structured TED Talks presentation, Chris McKnett, vice president at State Street Global Advisors and head of the firm’s ESG investing, argues that sustainable investing “is less complicated than you think, better performing than you believe, and more important than we can imagine.” McKnett does a good job marshaling facts that are relevant to institutional investors while keeping things simple. This video should appeal to investment professionals who want a reasonably short but substantive introduction from a fellow practitioner.

Sustainability and Investing

Presented by CFA Institute, this brief and relatively fast-paced interview features Cary Krosinsky, author, teacher, and executive officer of the Network for Sustainable Financial Markets. The interview tackles some of the difficult conceptual issues head on, among them, the difference between traditional socially responsible and sustainable investing. Krosinsky explains that the economics of a firm’s business model is integral to the firm’s sustainability. He also shares some specific examples of sustainable companies and offers his view on whether and how sustainable investing might financially outperform traditional investing.

Investing as If the Future Matters

In this TEDx talk, Graham Sinclair, a sustainable investment strategist at SinCo, a sustainable investment consulting firm, argues that unless investors pay due consideration to the social and environmental impact of the assets they are investing in, we “are probably creating a future that looks like today or probably a lot worse.” Sinclair, who co-founded the not-for-profit Africa Sustainable Investment Forum, is passionate about sustainable investing and stresses the need for integrating ESG considerations into the investment process.

Socially Responsible Investing for Long-Term Safety and Returns

In this presentation, Tom Van Dyck shares the insights about sustainable investing that he has drawn from his lengthy experience in the investment management industry. Van Dyck is the founder of As You Sow, a shareholder advocacy foundation. The title of this video refers to socially responsible investing, but Van Dyck’s discussion is really about sustainable investing. Interestingly, though traditional socially responsible investing might flag alcohol for exclusionary screening, Van Dyck’s key example in this talk is a beer company that went public in an innovative way. Van Dyck also discusses some of the conflicts of interest and attitudes facing the investment business and addresses the issues of financial performance and externalities. Not afraid to boldly express his opinions or crack a joke, Van Dyck keeps it interesting and insightful. “Investment is the economic expression of your thoughts and values,” he says.

If you would like to know more about ESG issues in sustainable, responsible, and impact investing, please take this free eLearning course by CFA Institute: ESG-100: A Clear and Simple Introduction to ESG issues in Sustainable, Responsible, and Impact Investing.

Please note that the content of this site should not be construed as investment advice, nor do the opinions expressed necessarily reflect the views of CFA Institute.

Photo credit: ©

About the Author(s)
Usman Hayat, CFA

Usman Hayat, CFA, writes about sustainable, responsible, and impact investing and Islamic finance. He is the lead author of "Environmental, Social, and Governance Issues in Investing: A Guide for Investment Professionals;" the literature review, "Islamic Finance: Ethics, Concepts, Practice;" and the research report "Sustainable, Responsible, and Impact Investing and Islamic Finance: Similarities and Differences." He is interested in online learning and has directed three e-courses for CFA Institute: "ESG-100," "Islamic Finance Quiz," and "Residual Income Equity Valuation." The other topics he writes about are macroeconomics and behavioral finance. He has experience working in securities regulation and as an independent consultant. His qualifications include the CFA charter, the FRM designation, an MBA, and an MA in development economics. He has served as a content director at CFA Institute. He is a former executive director at the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) and former CEO of the Audit Oversight Board (Pakistan). His personal interests include reading and hiking.

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