by Ernie Andreoli ’18
The Providence College School of Business hosted an Investment Forecast Forum in the Ryan Center for Business Studies on Nov. 9. Students, faculty, and alumni came together for a discussion on investment forecasting for the upcoming year, with an emphasis on socially responsible investing.
The event included a keynote presentation by Douglas Heske ’84, CEO of Newday, and Kurt Lieberman, CEO and chief research officer of Magni Global Asset Management LLC. After Dr. Sylvia Maxfield’s warm introduction to the packed audience in the KPMG Auditorium, Brian Kozak ‘18, vice president of the Providence College Finance Society, introduced Heske and Lieberman.
Heske began the presentation with a vignette on Pacific Electric & Gas Company’s (PE&G) role in insinuating California’s fire-ravaged wine country destruction in last month. On Oct. 18, Robins Cloud LLP filed a lawsuit against PE&G alleging that the company was responsible for much of the wild fire destruction inflicted on many homeowners in San Francisco County.
Heske reiterated the lawsuit brought to the San Francisco County Superior Court by stating that PE&G knew that drought-like conditions existed, and negligently failed to properly maintain its power lines and electric equipment. As a result, PE&G jeopardized its financial health, as well as its shareholders’ return. Heske highlighted that PE&G is a prime example of a publicly traded company that failed to regulate its governance practice.
As CEO of an investment management firm that focuses on improving companies’ investments in Environmental Social Governance (ESG), Heske indicated the importance of investing in environmentally sustainable assets. “Tomorrow is worth the investment,” stated Heske. Newday partners with corporations across the nation to implement positive social governance change with data analytic tools, and the integration of ESG investments.
Heske explained that his sustainable investment management firm “hopes to serve the common good, and support companies that are stewards of scarce environmental resources.” After discussing the environmental and social challenges facing society in this day and age, Heske indicated that all companies must seek to create shareholder wealth while mitigating risk, improving the community, and discarding “contingent liabilities” in an effort to improve Earth’s environmental sustainability.
In order for investment management firms to provide sustainable investment advice to its clients, data analytic providers, such as Magini Global, are a necessity. Lieberman emphasized the importance of governance researchers, and data analysts, to interpret ESG data and measure the sustainable and ethical impact of a company’s investment. While standard algorithmic models have yet to be developed for ESG investments, Lieberman noted the importance of measuring the impact of an investment, assessing the behavior of the parties involved, and building a process that will provide investment managers with a framework for giving sustainable investment advice to companies.
To conclude, Heske and Lieberman emphasized that growth in ESG investments is on the rise, and it is imperative to combat the social and environmental challenges of today. Following the discussion, Nick Coassin ’18, president of the Providence College Finance Society, piloted a student-led dialogue that sought sustainable investment insight from Heske, Lieberman, and two other PC alumni involved in ESG investment management.
In response to Coassin’s questions regarding how the current political climate has impacted sustainable investment initiatives, Heske emphasized that a rise in carbon emissions and population growth will not go away. Ultimately, a focus on ESG investments will grow companies’ value, and ameliorate the unyielding environmental and social challenges.