by Abbie Llewellyn-Waters, Fund Manager, Global Sustainable Equities, Jupiter Asset Management
Accountability will be a key theme in 2020. That means greater corporate accountability, with companies seeing more pressure to match their actions to their words, and market accountability, with ESG-related issues being reflected in asset prices.
This is because markets are at a major inflection point where the basic premise of fiduciary duty is being re-evaluated. This can already be seen through numerous supervisory channels; including regulations as well as the incoming mandatory Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) reporting.
But fiduciary duty is also being reinterpreted voluntarily by corporations. Of particular note were the events in August this year when the Business Roundtable, a powerful US pro-commerce lobby group founded in 1972, presented a new ‘Statement on the Purpose of a Corporation’ signed by 200 CEOs of the most successful companies in the market, including JP Morgan, General Motors, Apple, Amazon, and Johnson & Johnson. For the first time in US capital markets history, they declared that shareholder return should be put on an equal footing with the environment and society.
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