Donald Trump drags on US ethical investments

US President Donald Trump has been a drag on corporate America and fund managers cleaning up their ESG act, Edentree’s David Osfield has said.

The EdenTree Amity International Fund currently has a 25 to 30% underweight in the US, and despite continually looking for opportunities, manager Osfield (pictured) has found the country’s setting for socially responsible investing difficult.

Not only does he find US markets overvalued, Osfield has discounted many of the big opportunities in the US, such as the FANG stocks, owing to their poor ethical screening.

For example Amazon cannot appear in the fund for its doubtful treatment of workers and Apple for concerns in the supply chain. Only Alphabet passes the ESG threshold for the £219.39m fund.

Osfield said Trump’s denial of climate change, love of gas and oil and disregard for diversity was holding the country back in terms of socially responsible investments.

He said if he was a company chief executive, his actions would be seen as a direct influence on the workforce. The presidency, he added, should be seen in the same way.

“If you were going to give anyone an excuse not to think and change their ways, Trump provides it. So the US lags behind,” Osfield said.

China has stepped up to take the US’s place at the forefront of environmental and governance issues, tackling air pollution and introducing compulsory ESG reporting for companies in Hong Kong and Singapore.

“It is interesting that China has seen this void on the world stage to fill, but they also have a lot of opportunities,” Osfield said.

The International fund was launched in 1999 with Osfield joining Robin Hepworth as co-manager in 2016.

 

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