The ESG Update, Vol. 4
Confucius said, “Choose a job you love, and you’ll never have to work a day in your life.” As we head into Q2 of 2018, I can say with certainty that it’s true, thanks to you, Skye Advisors friends and clients who have joined me on this journey!
– Julie Skye, Principal, Skye Advisors
Keep These Support Phone Numbers Handy
Schwab Website Problems and Password Reset Schwab Alliance Team: (800) 515-2157
Julie Skye’s Backup Contact Diane Conrad at the First Affirmative Home Office: (719) 636-1045 ext. 0
Watch for a mailing later in April that has our 2nd Quarter Agenda to help us keep on track with the tasks we’ll be tackling in Q2. I’ll add my comments and will also be including hard-copies of the First Affirmative 1st Quarter Newsletters.
We’ll also be finalizing your Investment Policy Statement to align your investments more closely with your current risk tolerance and your Social Policy Questionnaire.
Changes to Credit Card Routines
The next time you use your Visa, MasterCard, American Express or Discover credit card, you may notice a change in your familiar checkout routine. Beginning this month, the major credit card networks are dropping the signature requirement at merchants nationwide.
Clients Using Margin
Clients using margin…using your Schwab account as collateral to “borrow money from Schwab”… will pay more going forward. As the Fed increases interest rates, that increase is tacked onto all lending rates and the base rate effective March 23, 2018, will be 7.25%. Call us if you plan to use it — our buying power with Schwab lets us negotiate lower rates for Institutional clients.
The 3rd Wednesday is 36ºN Free Co-Working Day
Comfy spots to spread out, drink Chimera coffee, and connect with some of Tulsa’s brightest entrepreneurial minds. Even if you just read or surf social media, a few hours here will show you the power of co-working. Don’t miss the terrific benefits Skye Advisors can extend to clients by virtue of our space at 36ºN.
Follow Skye Advisors on Facebook!
Skye Advisors’s Facebook page has posts of interest, real-time charts, and my thoughts when we have volatile days. This is the BEST benefit of being a Fiduciary Consultant: the freedom to communicate and keep you in-the-know.
Download the Schwab Mobile App
If you are not using the Schwab mobile app, click here for more info. The coolest benefit is being able to use your smartphone to shoot a picture of a check and deposit it into your Schwab account. Schwab Mobile App Info »
Can’t Log On to Your Schwab account?
A quick call to our dedicated Schwab Alliance team will fix you up in short order. Call (800)515-2157 for website problems and password reset.
The First Affirmative Partnership
Need something…anything…and I’m out of pocket? Know that the First Affirmative home office is there for you! Call the First Affirmative Home Office at (719)636-1045 ext. 0 and Diane Conrad will route you to the right team member, based on what you need. Think of First Affirmative as an extension of my office!
New Technology Making Your Financial Life Easier and More Secure
Gone are the days where you have to print, sign, and scan back forms or wait for snail-mail. Going forward, we’ll be using these four technologies to protect your sensitive, personal information:
Skye Advisors DocuSign for documents on which I need your signature. You’ll recognize these when you see my logo and the purple and green color scheme. Create and save your log-on and password so you have it for the next time!
Schwab’s DocuSign for Schwab forms on which we need your signature. You’ll recognize the familiar Schwab logo. Use your Schwab log-on and password. NOTE: two-factor authentication is coming and this can be annoying for those who log on to check account balances.
[encrypt] in the subject line for emails that have secure information or attachments, such as your 1099. Again, save your log-on and password for the next time you need it.
First Affirmative’s Log-on and Password: You chose a unique log-on and a TEMPORARY password when you moved to Skye Advisors. Later this month you will receive an email from First Affirmative and be prompted to change your temporary password to access your Quarterly Report...IF you chose electronic delivery. For those who have elected paper Quarterly Reports, you will be receiving those later in the month.
I’ll give you a heads up when one of these emails is coming your way but please, don’t ever hesitate to call if you receive an email and are unsure of its origin: please check before you click! Our goal is to help you feel safer knowing your information is secure and technology is making your life easier.
New technology can be challenging, so be sure to keep the logins and passwords for all of these, as you’ll need them each time you receive one!
State Street discloses it will engage with weapons manufacturers, distributors.
BY MEAGHAN KILROY · FEBRUARY 26, 2018
State Street plans to engage with weapons manufacturers and distributors to learn more about how they will ensure the safe use of their products, following the February 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL.
“We will be engaging with weapons manufacturers and distributors to seek greater transparency from them on the ways that they will support the safe and responsible use of their products,” State Street said in an emailed statement Monday. “And we will also seek to ensure that any shareholder resources used to influence legislation and regulations, or fund other advocacy efforts is consistent with the company's public views.”
Out in front, as usual, the New York City mayor calls for pension funds to divest gun manufacturers. Alliant shareholders reject firearms safety proposal filed by 2 pension funds. Connecticut, New York pension funds target Alliant for a gun-control proxy proposal.
State Street’s money management arm, State Street Global Advisors, is an investor in firearms manufacturers American Outdoor Brands Corp. and Sturm Ruger & Co. and distributor Dick’s Sporting Goods, according to Bloomberg data. As of December 31, SSGA held 4 million shares in the three companies with a combined value of $114.2 million.
Along with State Street, BlackRock (BLK) announced last week that it would speak with gun manufacturers and distributors to learn about their response to the Florida high school shooting.
“Given our inability to sell shares of a company in an index, even if we disagree with management, we focus on engaging with the company and understanding how they are responding to society's expectations of them,” said BlackRock spokesman Ed Sweeney. “We will be engaging with weapons manufacturers and distributors to understand their response to recent events.”
At least three shareholder proposals have been filed this proxy season that call for information from gun manufacturers and distributors on their efforts around gun safety and stemming gun violence. The proposals were filed by religious investors at American Outdoor Brands, Sturm Ruger, and Dick’s Sporting Goods. Whether those proposals make it onto companies' ballots or are withdrawn remains to be seen.
Why this matters to YOU: This is one of the most rewarding aspects of ESG (Environmental Social Governance) investing. Talk to me more about how your values are reflected in your investments.
J.P. Morgan becomes sixth financial company proxy-target to disclose gender pay.
BY MEAGHAN KILROY · FEBRUARY 23, 2018
Arjuna Capital withdrew a shareholder proposal at J.P. Morgan Chase after the company agreed to disclose its efforts to address gender pay inequity, Arjuna announced in a news release Friday. J.P. Morgan disclosed on its website that in adjusting for “factors that potentially impact pay, including employees’ roles, tenure, seniority, the business area they work in and geography,” globally, women at J.P. Morgan Chase “are paid 99% of what men are paid” and in the U.S. “minority employees are paid more than 99% of what non-minority employees are paid.” Both base salary and total compensation were analyzed. A spokesman confirmed the company made the disclosure Friday.
Arjuna filed proposals at nine banks and financial companies this proxy season calling for reports on the companies’ policies and goals to reduce the gender pay gap. Along with J.P. Morgan, Citigroup, Bank of New York Mellon(BK), Bank of America, MasterCard and Wells Fargo have disclosed their efforts to address gender pay inequity. The proposals at those firms have also been withdrawn.
“With J.P. Morgan now on board, 100% of the five banks we've engaged have committed to gender pay equity,” said Natasha Lamb, managing partner at Arjuna Capital. “This is a 180-degree turn since 2017, when the same banks opposed our shareholder resolutions. MasterCard’s recent disclosure only furthers the momentum, as two-thirds of the financial services firms we engaged have agreed to close their gender pay gaps. Gender pay was anathema to Wall Street when we started in 2017, but recent events have influenced big banks to manage the optics of equal pay for women and minorities. For one, the #MeToo movement is empowering women to demand workplace equality like never before.”
Why this matters to YOU: Making real changes in American’s lives — equal pay for equal work!
Pulling Back the Curtain: Transparency Matters
Advisors must stop acting like they are rich or Americans will look elsewhere.
BY CHRISTOPHER ROBBINS • MARCH 7, 2018
Nick Richtsmeier, executive vice president of Trilogy Financial, believes that too many advisors are cultivating images of wealth, luxury and even apathy that turn off many Americans; “It’s an empathy gap that is the effect of decades of culture in the financial services that creates a barrier between people who give advice and those who need advice,” he says. “For years, the benchmark for good advice was affluence – a good advisor appeared to be wealthy. In the past, most people did not begrudge an advisor doing well, but we’ve entered an age driven by digital and social media and the subcultures of Generation x and the millennials.”
The long-standing belief was that investors would not want to work with an advisor who did not appear to be successful and led advisors to buy designer suits, luxury cars, and boats and embrace leisure activities like golf and tennis. “At the most macro level, the industry has to make a decision: Does it intend to be a very small group of professionals serving a small, elite clientele, or will it expand to be a broad-based industry that serves the broader public?”
Why this matters to YOU: Skye Advisors believes that education, information, and empowerment should be available to anyone who wants to take charge of their money-lives. You shouldn’t have to fit the “million-dollar wealth advisor” profile to have investment firms value you. If you have friends or family members who might find this practice is a breath of fresh air, have them visit skyeadvisors.com and see if who we are resonates with them.
SEC issues guidance on corporate cyber security disclosure to investors.
BY HAZEL BRADFORD · FEBRUARY 21, 2018
Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Jay Clayton said the revised disclosures will give investors more complete information. The Securities and Exchange Commission voted unanimously Tuesday to approve an interpretive guidance for public companies on how to prepare disclosures about cyber-security risks and incidents.
SEC Chairman Jay Clayton said in a statement that the moves “will promote clearer and more robust disclosure by companies about cyber-security risks and incidents, resulting in more complete information being available to investors.” He urged public companies to examine controls and procedures with both disclosure obligations and reputational considerations in mind.
The guidance is aimed at helping public companies prepare cyber-security disclosures required by federal securities laws. Two topics added since the 2011 guidance are the importance of cyber-security policies and procedures, and how insider-trading bans apply in the cyber-security context.
Why this matters to YOU: The last year has lifted cyber security to the forefront, and this Governance risk (the G in ESG) matters.
Financial Moguls and Markets
Ten things investors should know about market corrections.
BY MOHAMED EL-ERIAN • MARCH 21, 2018
As the NASDAQ endures its longest string of daily losses since November 2016, and with other stock indexes also under pressure, there is a notable sense of unease among investors who believed until recently that selloffs were very limited in duration, of small magnitude, and quickly reversible. Now, markets suddenly seem less confident about their ability to shrug off political factors. They also appear more vulnerable to contagion from company-specific news such as Facebook’s apparent entanglement in questionable political-messaging practices.
There are also significant realignments that result in these 10 issues:
After an unusually long period of low volatility the new normal is lots of moves up and down.
Once this new normal begins, expect for lots of “repricing” (aka losing money) in a broad range of other asset classes. Stocks everyone loves to love and those selling at very high levels are particularly vulnerable.
Single-company stories such as Facebook’s can add to the unease when behind the scenes there is a broader issue surfacing…like the growing risk of a government and societal backlash.
This market reset is vulnerable to technical amplification, particularly because of “crowded trades” in tech and credit, along with the overpromising of liquidity associated with the recent proliferation of certain exchange-traded funds and the extent to which some investors have overstretched in pursuit of returns.
All this coincides and interacts with two other major transitions. The first is policy-related and has to do with the Fed’s gradual and measured exit from holding down interest rates. The second involves the current synchronized pickup in global growth that offers the best chance since the global financial crisis of ending too many years of too-low and insufficiently inclusive growth.
Beyond the short-term influences and market technicals, the success of these three major transitions — in market, policy and economic regimes — will determine the well-being of investors, including the speed, orderliness and ultimate destination of the repricing of their financial assets.
The Federal Reserve is expected to continue on the path of policy normalization, which means this important central bank is gradually getting out of the business of suppression of market volatility. It is also becoming clear that other systemically important institutions, such as the Bank of Japan and the European Central Bank, are likely to follow suit later this year.
Meanwhile, the markets’ faith in the economic transition to an environment of higher and more inclusive global growth is being shaken by more frequent talk of trade wars. Such concern among investors can endanger the durable success of the pro-growth policies that have been implemented in the U.S., the natural economic healing process (not only in Europe and Japan, but also in Brazil and Russia), and the scope for further pro-growth policies such as infrastructure spending in the U.S. and around the world.
What appears to be shaken market confidence in the many beneficial consequences of a durable synchronized pickup in global growth has been amplified by the materialization of some issues (such as higher yields, dollar appreciation and protectionist measures) that failed to appear last year.
This has naturally dampened a seemingly overwhelming investor conditioning to buy the dip, regardless of its causes, accentuating asset price volatility and making the market gyrations more pronounced and less unidirectional over the longer-term.
Helping the SSA help you.
Need help from the Social Security Administration with your benefits? Be prepared for a long wait. Years of budget cuts by Congress have left the Social Security Administration (SSA) short of staff on its toll-free customer service line. Long lines form daily outside many local field offices. And the backlog of people waiting for a hearing on disability insurance claims is more than 600 days. But last week, Congress made a down payment on a badly needed fix for the customer-service crisis plaguing the agency. Lawmakers ignored the Trump administration’s request to hold the SSA budget flat, instead boosting the agency’s administrative budget by $480 million as part of the $1.3 trillion omnibus spending legislation signed into law by the president.
Why this matters to YOU: Few government agencies touch as many lives as the Social Security Administration — maybe life is going to be a little easier here!