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9 April 2009
Responsible Investor: Booming SRI cash funds lack transparency and screening rigour
Source: www.responsible-investor.com

Novethic Report says ESG research can add ‘assurance’, however, for cash fund investors.

he report said applying an SRI assessment to money market funds could provide added assurance for products considered low-risk but where some have recently been discredited due to so-called ‘dynamic’ money market approaches such as exposure to sub-prime mortgage loans via derivatives. It said an environmental, social and governance (ESG) overlay could be used to better identify the issuers of debt bought by the funds.

However, it said SRI cash funds provided uneven and limited levels of transparency, notably on screening rules and tolerance thresholds for their investments. It found that while some fund managers categorically exclude securities not reviewed against extra-financial criteria, others allowed a certain percentage, sometimes as high as 50%, in their portfolio. Moreover, it said none of the funds had taken a stance on the issue of investment in tax havens, which it said was considered to have “helped spur the financial crisis”. Securities issued from tax havens, it said, ranked among the top ten fund investments in Novethic’s 13-strong fund panel.
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