Friends Fiduciary Comments on Modernizing Regulation of Biotechnology Products
January 5, 2016
In July 2015, the White House announced an initiative to modernize the regulatory system for biotechnology products to better protect public health, welfare, safety, and our environment while promoting economic growth, innovation, competitiveness, and job creation. In 1986, the initial Coordinated Framework (CF) was issued to ensure the safety of biotechnology products; the CF was last updated in 1992. Today, it is clear the existing framework is insufficient and incomplete.
Friends Fiduciary recognizes the health and environmental risks associated with potentially harmful genetically engineered (GE) products and organisms. With that in mind, FFC joined a group of investors and advocates to urge the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to incorporate four overarching principles into the new regulations. Those principles are:
1. Clear and enforceable regulations that apply to all organisms developed using GE processes.
2. Regulation of the broader range of risks of the products of biotechnology, including long- term health impacts, and direct and indirect environmental impacts.
3. Improved regulation of non-GE crop contamination, ensuring that the costs of contamination are borne by those using GE products, not the companies impacted by contamination.
4. Mandatory labeling of GE food products.
FFC supports a regulatory system that efficiently assesses the risks associated with future biotechnology products while supporting innovation, protecting health and the environment, maintaining public confidence in the regulatory process, increasing transparency and predictability, and reducing unnecessary costs. It is our hope that such a new system will not only better protect consumers, but will ensure a consistent and fair playing field for companies which increases certainty and reduces both short- and long-term risk.
Click here to view letter
Friends Fiduciary Fights to Maintain Progress of Palm Oil Industry to End Deforestation
December 21, 2015
Indonesia, the largest producer and exporter of palm oil in the world, is facing one of the worst haze crises in over a decade due to burning forests to clear land for palm oil, and is consequently on track to be one of the top carbon polluters this year. This after major strides in recent years toward ending deforestation, including commitments and policies by many of the top Indonesian palm oil suppliers.
For years Friends Fiduciary has joined efforts and campaigns to raise awareness about palm oil production sustainability risks which threaten shareholder value. The detrimental environmental impact of unsustainable palm oil production, we believe, puts the industry’s social license to operate and would access at potential risk. Past campaigns led to improvements in every stage of the supply chain from palm oil suppliers to end users. However, there remain groups, even within the Indonesian government, that oppose industry efforts to curb deforestation.
So FFC joined other investors to urge Indonesia’s President, Joko Widodo, to adopt regulatory reforms that support forest conservation and haze prevention, to protect their forests and peatlands, and to improve Indonesians’ health and environment. Further, as investors, we asked the administration to support companies that contribute to economic well-being without further degrading local communities or the environment, and expressed our commitment to invest in companies and countries that are actively addressing sustainability risks facing our global economy.
Friends Fiduciary Urges Pharmaceuticals to Embrace UN 2030 Sustainable Development Goals
December 11, 2015
In September 2015, the United Nations (UN) member states adopted the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), seventeen global goals each with specific targets to be achieved over the next fifteen years. Overall objectives of the SDGs are to end poverty, transform lives, and protect the planet.
Friends Fiduciary and the Global Health Group of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR) recognize the critical role played by leading pharmaceutical companies to attain the SDGs. One in particular, Goal 3: Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages, ties closely to each of the seventeen SDGs, as health underpins every development issue.
So FFC with 48 other members of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility, sent letters to ten leading pharmaceutical companies pointing out the challenges and significant opportunities presented by the SDGs and goal three specifically. The letter, among other things, raised awareness of the need for vaccines and for treatment of HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, hepatitis C, neglected tropical diseases and diabetes that impact the health of millions.
As a socially responsible investor, Friends Fiduciary understands the potential risks and rewards involved with this issue. We will continue to dialogue with management, as shareholders, to pursue the preparation of goals and action plans, the assessment of the impact of their actions, and external reports of their findings and outcomes.
Click Here for More Information
Friends Fiduciary Supports Stronger Truck Emissions and Fuel Efficiency
November 12, 2015
In the trucking industry there is plenty of room for cost savings, health and climate benefits, and economic gains. Freight trucks account for more than 450 million tons of climate-warming emissions per year. Without regulatory change, emissions are projected to increase 40% by 2040. Trucking is the fastest growing single source of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the U.S.
Friends Fiduciary joined a group of investors representing more than $13 trillion in managed assets to urge the White House, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to strengthen the standards in their proposed rule. Specifically, the group is calling for strong standards that require a 40% reduction in heavy truck fuel consumption by 2025.
A number of studies and analyses have been conducted by various groups including the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy, Ceres, Consumer Federation of America, Environmental Defense Fund, Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club, and Union of Concerned Scientists. Collectively, they identified the potential to save 270 million metric tons of GHG emissions annually by 2030, save an estimated 1.4 million barrels of oil per day by 2030, reduce freight costs 3% by 2030 and 7%, or $34 billion annually, by 2040, and save $0.21 per mile by 2040 if strong standards are implemented.
As investors, FFC believes strong standards are feasible, cost effective, and represent a significant opportunity to drive economic growth. We recognize the benefits of reduced dependency on oil, protection from oil price volatility, driving innovation in advanced truck technologies, and reduced climate risk. Our hope is that the EPA, with support from the NHTSA and the White House, will incorporate strong standards into their proposed rule, and drive the rule through to regulation.
Click here to view letter
Friends Fiduciary Urges Congress to Pass Legislation Addressing Human Trafficking Risks
November 5, 2015
The International Labour Organization (ILO), a United Nations agency dealing with global labor issues, reports an estimated 20.9 million people worldwide are affected by human trafficking. Additionally, last year, the U.S. Department of Labor found goods produced by forced labor and child labor from 74 countries were imported into the U.S.
Existing regulations, including the California Transparency in Supply Chains Act of 2010 and the U.K. Modern Slavery Act of 2015, do not properly address the issues. During the summer of 2015, bills were introduced to both the U.S. House of Representatives (the House) and the Senate known as the “Business Supply Chain Transparency on Trafficking and Slavery Act of 2015.” The act would require any organization with annual worldwide global receipts in excess of $100 million to disclose whether they have taken any measures to identify and address conditions of forced labor, slavery, human trafficking, and the worst forms of child labor within their supply chain, and describe any measures taken.
Friends Fiduciary joined a group of investors and shareholders in urging members of the House and Senate to co-sponsor and pass their respective bills. As a Quaker values-based investor, FFC supports actions to stop human abuse in commercial sectors. Further and simply from an investor’s perspective, companies without comprehensive anti-trafficking protocols are exposed to financial, legal, and reputational risks that could adversely impact shareholder value.
FFC believes proactive policies to identify and address human trafficking risks in global supply chains are the most effective means to affect positive change. We also feel the current legislative and regulatory framework is gravely inadequate to address such inhumane treatment. We hope this new legislation will raise awareness and eliminate human rights abuses, as well as provide public disclosures so businesses and consumers can avoid goods that come from tainted supply chains.
To view statement click here
Friends Fiduciary Expresses Concerns with ISS Regarding Climate Resolutions
October 22, 2015
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reports, “Greenhouse gases from human activities are the most significant driver of observed climate change since the mid-20th century.” As an organization deeply concerned about climate change, FFC supports efforts to reduce greenhouse gases (GHG).
From an investor’s perspective, we recognize there are risks and opportunities driven by climate change and the actions taken to address it. In addition to global action on climate change, various trends including increased transportation efficiency and clean air regulations may affect the future sustainability and profitability of entire industries. This is an important issue, both for us and those on whose behalf we invest.
Therefore, Friends Fiduciary joined a group of investors representing more than $37 billion in managed assets, to express certain concerns to ISS, a proxy advisory firm whose recommendations affect the outcomes of countless shareholder resolutions. We identified ISS recommendations that clearly failed to fully integrate or adequately evaluate the scope of the risks companies face as a result of coordinated global climate action and the rising demand for cleaner forms of energy.
We asked that ISS provide investors with more information about their analysis of climate resolutions and adopt new policies that recognize the systemic financial and physical risks posed by climate change to companies. Further, we offered a number of suggestions designed to strengthen their analysis of climate resolutions, in particular, those related to establishing GHG targets or goals.
FFC believes submitting shareholder proposals is a vital step in communicating our values, concerns and interests to corporate management and other shareholders. We also recognize the influence proxy advisors can have on the outcome of those proposals that become resolutions. So, we hope ISS takes seriously their role in analyzing and assessing shareholder resolutions, especially climate resolutions, and better communicates their findings and methodology to investors.
To view letter click here
Friends Fiduciary Calls for Management and Disclosure of Water-related Risks
October 12, 2015
This year, the World Economic Forum ranked water crises as the global risk of highest concern to society in the next ten years. The availability of water is impacted by rising competition, aging water infrastructure, weak regulation, and climate change. The food sector, which uses 70 percent of the world’s freshwater, is further exposed to water risks by increased pollution.
So, Friends Fiduciary, along with more than 60 leading North American and European institutional investors collectively managing $2.6 trillion in assets, sent letters to food sector companies to raise awareness of water crises. The companies receiving the letters were identified as poor performers based on a recent Ceres report entitled, Feeding Ourselves Thirsty. The report analyzed food sector companies in four categories of water risk management and rated them on a 100-point scale.
In addition to raising awareness, the letters urged companies to set and implement systems to collect and interpret data on the company’s exposure to water risks within both its direct operations and supply chains. The adverse affects of water scarcity and water pollution increasingly are impacting operating and financial results. Limited freshwater supplies can lead to rationing. Production interruptions can increase operating costs. Increased competition can drive water rate hikes. Public resistance to corporate use of scarce groundwater supplies can result in reputational risks.
CDP, known for their surveys on sustainability, developed a water questionnaire to collect material data on how companies identify, manage, and mitigate risks and opportunities to water. The letter encouraged companies to respond to the water questionnaire and use it as a framework for effective reporting and action.
“Many food sector executives are holding onto a mistaken view that water will forever be cheap and limitless,” said Brooke Barton, co-author of Feeding Ourselves Thirsty. “But the era of cheap, plentiful water is coming to an end, and, more than ever, food companies need to address it.”
FFC believes water resources can be used more efficiently and managed more effectively to help ensure the right to water for future generations. We would like to see companies, especially those in the food sector, implement standard procedures to identify and mitigate water risks, better manage their use of freshwater, and regularly report to investors their approach to water stewardship.
FFC signed onto those letters going to the food and beverage companies (DPS, FDP, HRL, KHC, & MNST) held by Friends Fiduciary.
Friends Fiduciary Supports the EPA’s Clean Power Plan
September 18, 2015
Friends Fiduciary joined with 365 other companies and investors from all 50 states in an unprecedented show of support for the Clean Power Plan. The group delivered letters to U.S. governors encouraging them to finalize implementation plans to meet the new standards. The letters point out that flexibility in the Clean Power Plan allows states to customize their own energy portfolio, expand clean energy solutions, attract new industries to the state, and create thousands of jobs.
A 2014 study, by the World Wildlife Fund and others, revealed that 60 percent of Fortune100 companies have set their own clean energy targets and have saved more than $1 billion a year in the process. Additionally, the Center for American Progress issued a recent report stating, “With the right mix of policies, countries and localities can reduce their carbon pollution while improving their economies…The time is ripe for the United States to take action as a world leader to reduce carbon emissions—and avoid the incredible risks of failing to do so.”
The Clean Power Plan, recently finalized by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), provides standards to reduce carbon pollution from the power sector by 32% of 2005 levels by 2030. Power plants account for approximately 33 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. The EPA states this plan will lead to public health and climate benefits worth an estimated $55 billion to $93 billion in 2030.
FFC is concerned about the short-term and long-term effects of climate change, and therefore, supports this plan as an important step in the fight against climate change in the U.S. We hope our actions send a clear message to state leaders and they respond quickly with decisive steps in support of clean power to develop low-carbon economies across the U.S.
Letters to state governors:
CPP Governor Letter – PA
CPP Governor Letter – OH
CPP Governor Letter – NY
CPP Governor Letter – CA
Friends Fiduciary Urges Companies to Support Clean Power Plan
September 11, 2015
In August of this year, President Obama and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized the Clean Power Plan, a common-sense plan to cut carbon pollution from power plants. Power plants are the largest single source of carbon pollution accounting for roughly one-third of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. This plan looks to reduce carbon pollution from the power sector by 32% of 2005 levels by 2030. The EPA states this plan will lead to public health and climate benefits worth an estimated $55 billion to $93 billion in 2030.
As a socially-responsible investor, Friends Fiduciary supports the Clean Power Plan and the efforts of the EPA. Further, we invest in like-minded companies that address the economic and environmental challenges associated with climate change. Many such environmentally responsible companies have executives that serve on the Board of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce (Chamber) or are members of the Chamber. Nonetheless, the Chamber has indicated their intention to sue to block these regulations and already is challenging EPA plans.
So, FFC joined with over 60 other investors and organizations, representing over $324 billion in invested assets, to urge those environmentally responsible companies to express their disapproval of the Chamber’s actions and intentions. In communicating with these companies and their executives, we identify the benefits of the Clean Power Act and point out the misalignment between their company policies, actions and leadership and the actions and intentions of the Chamber. We reached out to nearly 50 companies representing Chamber Board members or large members of the Chamber paying sizeable fees.
FFC is concerned about climate change and both its short-term and long-term effects. Additionally, as investors, we are concerned about the risks our investments face from damage to corporate reputations. While not all companies share our concerns about climate change, we argue that every company should be concerned with their reputation. It is our hope that enough companies will speak out against the Chamber’s actions in regard to the Clean Power Act so the regulations are implemented as quickly as possible, its benefits begin accumulating, and the ways of doing business in the power sector begin to improve.
Click here for more information: Letters to Chamber of Commerce 8.31.2015
Friends Fiduciary Pushes for Children’s Welfare and Protection
September 2, 2015
Friends Fiduciary supports a campaign to ensure the safety and well-being of children, specifically those using the new YouTube Kids app. FFC and a coalition of shareholders and investors – representing approximately 300 organizations and $100 billion of invested capital – signed a letter to Google Inc., owner of YouTube, to express our concerns and call for changes to the advertising practices being used in the YouTube Kids app.
The app fails to observe federal rules for children’s television programming that keep advertising to a minimum and ban product placements. Additionally, FFC and the coalition are concerned with the content of advertising in the app such as commercials for fast food, candy and toys. It appears the company did not institute adequate safeguards when developing this product aimed at children users.
Further, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is reviewing complaints it received from children’s and consumer advocacy groups about the app, which raises other investor concerns. As stated on our letter to Google CEO Larry Page, “We are concerned about the risks [the app] poses to children, as well as attendant regulatory and reputational risks it poses to our company.”
FFC believes companies must be sensitive to children’s vulnerabilities, and we urge, and expect, companies to keep foremost in their decisions the safety and welfare of children in the context of their goods and services. Additionally, we believe the FTC should apply and enforce existing rules for children’s television programming to all children’s content regardless of its method of delivery.
To view the letter click here
FFC Acts to Safeguard Shareholder Resolution Process
August 24, 2015
Friends Fiduciary joined a group of investors and investor associations, representing $2.2 trillion in assets under management, in expressing concerns over the interpretation review by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) of its Rule 14a-8, (“the rule”) and specifically the section which allows a company to exclude a shareholder proposal that “directly conflicts” with a management proposal. The SEC issues the guidelines and rules for corporate proxies and shareholder resolutions. The investors, including FFC, believe the SEC should interpret the rule much more narrowly in order to preserve its original intent and support the value of shareholder proposals. A letter was submitted to the SEC’s Division of Corporation Finance to express our concerns and provide recommendations.
Investors are concerned that companies will fabricate “conflicting” resolutions they know are unworkable simply to exclude a shareholder proposal from the proxy statement. There is good reason for this concern. Last year, 25 companies filed no-action requests under the rule and stated they would include a management proposal in their proxy statement. However, as noted in a letter submitted to the SEC, June 17, 2015, on behalf of the New York City pension system, “Despite those public promises to the SEC and to investors that each company would be presenting a proxy access proposal, 13 of the 25 companies failed to present any company-sponsored proposal on proxy access. Indeed, in their opposition statements to shareowner proxy access resolutions, 11 of those 13 companies opposed and argued against the entire concept of proxy access in any form.”
As a socially responsible investor dedicated to reflecting Quaker values in our investment management, we believe submitting shareholder proposals is a vital step in communicating our values, concerns and interests to corporate management and other shareholders. If the SEC continues to interpret the rule too broadly it could diminish the effect and impact of shareholder proposals, potentially removing an effective channel of communication to management and an important means for FFC to witness our Quaker values.
Click here for the Letter
Friends Fiduciary joins investor coalition asking G-7 governments to commit to long-term emissions reduction goals in the upcoming Paris global climate agreement.
July 16, 2015
Friends Fiduciary has joined a coalition representing more than $12 trillion in assets under management, asking G-7 finance ministers to specify long-term emissions reduction goals in the global climate agreement to be signed in Paris in December. The request was sent to the finance ministers of the G-7 countries, as they will play a crucial role in the lead up to the Paris summit in December 2015. This is the first time a global coalition of investors has called for long-term emissions reduction to be part of the accord.
The investors, including Friends Fiduciary, maintain that “climate change is one of the biggest systemic risks” to investor capital and that delaying action will result in more stringent policies being required later. The decision to reduce emissions over the long term is a critical first step in limiting the global temperature increases to the targeted 2°C. This call to action by investors included a request for short to medium-term goals, noting that each nation’s finance minister must agree to his or her nation’s goals and ensure a just transition for individuals and communities.
A strong agreement in Paris will set a clear pathway for nations and businesses towards a low carbon future. This in turn will “serve to reduce policy risk, incentivize R&D, facilitate the deployment of new technologies and ultimately create new jobs.” Friends Fiduciary believes that an ambitious agreement coming out of Paris will be an important and necessary step towards mitigating climate change.
Please see attached letter.
FFC Urges World Bank to Strengthen Protections for Indigenous Peoples’ Rights
July 6, 2015
Friends Fiduciary has joined a global investor coalition representing US$125 billion in assets, responding to the World Bank’s request for comments on proposed amendments to their Environmental and Social Safeguards Framework. The coalition would like to see that framework conform to existing international human rights agreements, namely the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.
Friends Fiduciary and others in the coalition believe that the World Bank should be strengthening the requirements that Indigenous communities support new projects on or near their territories rather than weakening those requirements, which is what the current draft framework appears to do. Further, the new standard should not allow countries to “opt out” of the Indigenous Peoples policy requirements.
If the World Bank offers countries that violate the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples weaker lending criteria, it could effectively subsidize greater instability in the business environments within these countries and therefore the viability of its investments. The Indigenous Rights Risk Report by the First Peoples Worldwide identified a correlation between investment risk and the strength of a country’s legal protections for Indigenous Peoples.
At Friends Fiduciary, we believe that companies that respect the rights of, and work to build good relations with, Indigenous Peoples will prosper over time. The World Bank should be encouraging these business practices rather than undermining them with a weaker Environmental and Social Safeguards Framework for its lending programs.
Click Here for Letter
FFC Calls on Nestlé to Improve Supply Chain Sustainability
June 25, 2015
Friends Fiduciary has joined a global investor group representing $334 billion in assets, asking that Nestlé’s corporates management attend to environmental, social, and governance issues in their operations in order to protect investor capital over the long term.
Future cocoa production depends on ecological sustainability and fair treatment of workers who grow and harvest the cocoa. In their communication, investors thank Nestlé, and other companies in the sector, for their efforts to prevent child labor, assist farmer organization and training, develop Key Progress Indicators (KPIs) for sustainability in cocoa production, and implement independent verification in parts of the cocoa supply chain.
Despite these efforts, investors are concerned whether improvements in these areas will increase the attractiveness of cocoa farming as an occupation for the next generation of farmers.
Therefore, FFC and other investors are encouraging Nestlé to set specific goals and report on their progress in the area of farmer incomes, access to school for children in cocoa-producing communities, and strengthened child labor remediation. We are also seeking specific KPIs for companies and the industry with transparent reporting. This will allow managers, investors, and other stakeholders to make a fair assessment of the work Nestlé, and the industry, has done and future progress.
As part of the investor coalition, FFC believes that a sustainable cocoa supply chain with decent living conditions for cocoa farmers is possible both at the individual company and industry levels. We would like to see increased efforts in this area and believe that Nestlé has the potential to lead the industry in supporting the well-being of cocoa farming, thereby protecting capital returns over the long term.
Click here for the Letter
Friends Fiduciary urges SEC to Improve Carbon Asset Risk Disclosure by Oil and Gas Companies
June 11, 2015
Disclosing potential carbon asset risks will inform investors and potential investors of risks they may undertake when investing in businesses that extract and sell fossil fuels. “Carbon asset risks” include carbon-reducing regulation, growth of renewable energy, and weakening oil demand. Additionally, change in climate and weather can cause physical risk to companies’ infrastructure. Some fossil fuel reserves and infrastructure are at risk of becoming stranded assets due to competition and environmental regulations. The investors’ letter to the SEC notes that these risks constitute ‘known trends’ under SEC rules, and therefore companies must disclose them.
The energy industry has made and continues to make substantial capital investments in carbon intensive projects such as Arctic Drilling, ultra-deep-water drilling, and oil sands projects. Fully disclosing risks to investors may impact the economics of the industry and result in increased scrutiny for such capital investments and the expected return on investment.
The industry will likely expend more than $1 trillion on high-cost, carbon intensive exploration and development in the coming decade even though these projects assume a 30% rise in oil prices to be profitable.
Investors noted that Chevron, ExxonMobil and Canadian Natural Resources failed to fully disclose carbon asset risks and asked the SEC to notify the companies in “comment letters”. These companies do not disclose carbon asset risks or do so inadequately. While FFC does not hold these oil majors, we believe that failure to disclose this information allows the industry to hide its true level of risk, stymies effective public policy towards sustainable alternatives and impedes investment capital from flowing to effective low-carbon energy production. According to Ceres, a national organization working with companies and investors around climate change, taking effective action to stop global warming will require more than $1 trillion in clean energy investments per year in the coming decades.
To view the letter click here
Friends Fiduciary call to action in garment-worker safety
May 26, 2015
Friends Fiduciary Corporation (FFC) is part of an Interfaith Coalition on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR) effort calling for improved safety standards for garment factories in Bangladesh.
Two years ago, the Rana Plaza building outside Dhaka, Bangladesh collapsed, killing more than 1,100 garment workers. The event is considered one of the worst workplace disasters in history. In response, corporations and workers created the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety and the Bangladesh Accord for Building Safety. More than 200 companies, sourcing from 1,600 factories, have signed the Accord.
In order to address issues such as sprinklers and construction defects, factories will need to secure appropriate financing and make agreements with suppliers. Clothing brands will need to ensure that their suppliers obtain resources to do so, through the use of loans, pre-payment for orders, business incentives, or other means. The investor coalition is asking companies to disclose the results of inspections and fully address defects that are revealed.
FFC and the ICCR have further asked that companies disclose progress on establishing worker/management Occupational Safety and Health committees, with workers electing representatives to the committees. Bangladeshi labor laws now require companies to establish these committees. The committees can build capacity to detect and remediate safety issues before they cause further harm to workers. Clothing brands must communicate their support for these committees to suppliers to ensure this key component of remediation is operational.
In order to implement the safety infrastructure requirements to avoid future disasters the investor coalition is calling for greater transparency in the remediation efforts and the funding available to make the necessary changes. The coalition is also asking companies which source clothing made in Bangladesh to donate to the Rana Plaza Donors Trust Fund in order to allow the fund to provide relief to workers and their families affected by the disaster.
To view the letters,click here.
FFC Asks Managers to Assess Climate Risk in Investments
March 19, 2015
Friends Fiduciary has asked its money managers to assess how their investments could affect climate change and to evaluate climate risk in the investment process. The letter, from Richard Kent, Chief Investment Officer, asks managers to “understand the strategies our companies are using to manage climate risk.” While Friends Fiduciary has not chosen to divest from fossil fuels in its Consolidated Fund, its Environmental Social and Governance screening criteria favors companies with better track records on these factors.
This letter clearly communicates to all of FFC’s managers the importance of these concerns for FFC and its constituent investors and further elevates these concerns within the traditional investment arena. Executive Director, Jeff Perkins, states that “when we engage with companies in shareholder advocacy we’re asking them how they are assessing climate risk in their operations, supply chains and invested assets – we’re asking our managers to do the same as part of their investment selection process”.
Click here for letter text.
FFC Urges eBay to End Support for ALEC
December 31, 2014
Over the last several months FFC, along with other investors, has urged leading tech companies to sever their associations with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). ALEC, a conservative lobbying group, denies climate change, fights against collective bargaining rights, and opposes carbon pollution regulations. Frequently the lobbying done by ALEC directly contradicts these companies’ public positions on the same issues. Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and Yahoo! have already ended their association with ALEC.
FFC is now calling for eBay leadership to end the company’s relationship with ALEC. Concerned investors believe eBay may run the risk of damaging its reputation through its support of and association with ALEC. We believe that ALEC’s policy initiatives run counter to eBay’s stated corporate values. eBay has long stood for transparency and accountability. FFC believes that eBay’s leadership should maintain the company’s strong brand reputation and act swiftly to end its support for ALEC.
To view the letter, click here.
FFC Supports Natural Gas Methane Leakage Regulation
November 17, 2014
FFC believes that businesses and investors play a pivotal role in transitioning to a low-carbon economy. Natural gas is a promising fuel source that is poised to ease the transition away from more pollutive energy fuel stocks, like coal. However, natural gas is not without climate impacts. The production of natural gas produces methane, a highly potent greenhouse gas that is 84 times more dangerous to our environment than carbon dioxide. Methane leakage threatens our climate, air quality and the industry’s sustainability.
Fortunately, there are proven, cost-effective solutions that can dramatically cut methane emissions. These measures, which include more effective valves and leak detection and repair programs can cut methane leakage by 40%, offsetting the costs.
Monitoring and evaluation of methane emissions is currently limited to voluntary industry actions and state regulations. Such efforts are inconsistent and inadequate to address this significant issue; a national policy is needed. FFC urges the EPA to develop stringent rules for methane emissions from existing and future oil and gas operations.
To view the letter, click here
TAFTA Threatens GMO Labeling Progress
November 4, 2014
FFC has continually supported legislation that would require GMO (genetically modified organisms) labeling on food products. Over the past several years, a number of consumer advocacy groups have led the push for greater GMO transparency, resulting in more informed consumers. Investors have encouraged transparent labelling of GMO products and advocated that regulations be adopted nationally. In the absence of federal regulations the task has fallen to the states. As of this year, more than twenty states have proposed mandatory GMO labeling laws. This type of legislation is favored by 90% of the American public. Unfortunately, the proposed Trans-Atlantic Free Trade Agreement (TAFTA), which is being negotiated secretly and without input from our elected officials, threatens to reverse that progress. American and European agribusiness corporations are using the TAFTA negotiations to push for policies that would remove existing GMO labeling requirements and seriously undermine future efforts towards greater food source transparency. One trade group admitted that, “US industry also would like to see the US-EU FTA achieves progress in removing mandatory GMO labeling and traceability requirements.”
These proposals threaten to undermine both the strict GMO labeling alreadyrequired in the European Union and the significant progress that has been made in the United States. Our United States Trade Representative is negotiating on behalf of the American people. The goals of TAFTA are to benefit the consumer by removing barriers to trade. FFC believes that what truly benefits the American consumer and American agribusiness is transparency with GMO labeling on products.
To view the letter, click here.
FFC Signs the Global Investor Statement on Climate Change
October 27, 2014
FFC has joined with hundreds of investment groups around the world in calling on the United Nations and its member countries to address climate change. The Global Investor Statement on Climate Change was presented to the United Nations before the UN Climate Summit in September 2014. The statement explained that well-crafted climate change policies will spur global investment in renewable energy. Governments can ease the transition to a more sustainable future by relaxing regulations on promising low-carbon innovations, phasing out subsidies of the fossil fuel industry, and investing in renewable energy.
FFC believes that the business community should take the lead in combating climate change. The transition to a low-carbon economy creates opportunities for businesses worldwide to innovate, create, and invest in a more sustainable future. We believe that the Global Investor Statement on Climate Change reflects our values by urging broad international action on climate change at this critical juncture.
To read the full statement, click here
FFC Calls on IOSCO to Encourage Corporate Accountability
October 17, 2014
FFC has joined with other investment groups in calling for the International Organization of Securities Commissions (IOSCO) to encourage corporations to disclose companies’ Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) information to investors. IOSCO is an international association that represent’s 90% of the world’s securities and futures markets. Because of its global reach, IOSCO is in a unique position to encourage corporations around the world to provide shareholders and potential investors with ESG information. This information allows investors to gauge the extent to which a corporation is contributing to food and water crises, income inequality, climate change, governance failures and other important issues affecting our world.
IOSCO can encourage the disclosure of this important information by working more closely with regulators, stock exchanges, and individual corporations. Specifically, FFC is calling on IOSCO to encourage the development of disclosure rules across markets, the creation of a task force dedicated to improving ESG disclosures, and the publication of an official statement explaining why the disclosure of this information is so important.
FFC believes that the greater corporate accountability that would result from these actions will lead to more stable global financial markets, and improved qualities of life for people around the world.
To view the statement, click here
FFC Calls for Climate Change Reporting Framework
October 9, 2014
FFC has joined other investors in calling on corporations to join the Climate Change Reporting Framework. The Framework is an initiative created by the Climate Disclosure Standards Board which provides a standardized, usable format for corporations to disclose climate-related risk to their investors. Corporations are increasingly releasing climate risk data to their investors, but the content and availability of this data varies widely. By joining the Climate Change Reporting Framework, corporations will publish this information to investors in mainstream corporate reports.
FFC believes that climate risk information is critical to assessing a company’s long term sustainability. With this new reporting framework, investors will be able to delve more fully into the climate implications of the companies in their investment portfolio. FFC believes long term corporate sustainability is an important component for long term shareholder value.
To read the statement on fiduciary duty and climate change disclosure click here
FFC Urges Securities and Exchange Commission to Require Public Companies to Disclose Lobbying
September 29, 2014
FFC has signed on to a corporate reform coalition statement calling on the Securities and Exchange Commission to require publicly traded companies to inform shareholders about the use of company funds for political purposes. The 2010 Citizens United ruling allowed corporations to spend unlimited amounts of company money to influence elections. This decision was based on the assumption that corporations would, in the words of Justice Anthony Kennedy, “provide shareholders and citizens with the information needed to hold corporations and elected officials accountable for their positions and supporters.” In the years since the Citizens United ruling, however, the SEC has failed to create rules requiring corporations to do just that.
FFC urges the SEC to create these rules so that shareholders can ensure corporate funds are being used in their best interest. FFC believes that corporate disclosure rules will provide greater transparency and allow shareholders to effectively evaluate a company’s use of resources.
To view the statement on corporate reform coalition, click here
FFC Encourages Google to Leave ALEC
September 18, 2014
FFC has joined with dozens of leading corporations, investors, and non-profit organizations calling for Google to sever its ties with the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC. Over the past few filing seasons, FFC has continually and successfully advocated for greater disclosures of lobbying and membership expenditures in order to promote corporate transparent and greater alignment of publicly stated corporate values and corporate funding of industry organizations advocating directly against those values. Just last proxy season, FFC co-filed a shareholder resolution with VISA asking the company to disclose its lobbying policies and its membership in industry organizations like ALEC. Our advocacy was successful. VISA withdrew from ALEC and agreed to greater lobbying disclosures prompting FFC to withdraw our resolution.
ALEC has drawn opposition from numerous advocacy organizations and investors for their shadow, opaque operations and the inherent lack of transparency this creates for their corporate members. On behalf of its members, ALEC pushes for defunding of public services, curtailing of labor rights, climate change denial and they oppose net neutrality. Google has been outspoken in support of climate risk concerns and has publicly pushed for net neutrality. We believe that membership in ALEC contradicts Google’s public positions on these important issues, and poses reputational risk for the company.
To view the letter, click here
FFC joins other investors groups in calling for an immediate moratorium on deforestation and better protection of human rights in the palm oil supply chain.
September 9, 2014
FFC has joined with other investment groups in calling for palm oil producers to place an immediate moratorium on deforestation and to ensure the protection of human rights for palm oil workers. Investors, including FFC, and NGO’s and consumer groups have long called for stronger regulatory standards for the palm oil industry. Because of these efforts, many of the leading purchasers of palm oil, including Wilmar, Golden Agri-Resources, Nestle, and Unilever, have committed to ensuring that the palm oil they purchase comes from sources committed to the protection of forests, peatlands, and the rights of the workers they employ.
While progress has been made, there is still work to do. Recently, a group of palm oil producers joined together to form the Palm Oil Manifesto Group. This industry consortium plans to launch a “study period” after which time they will offer a new, industry-friendly threshold for “no deforestation” palm oil. FFC and others are concerned that these palm oil producers will use this study period to continue clearing forests and peatland.
Even more worrisome are the continued human rights abuses within the palm oil industry. The industry is considered one of the worst industries for child labor and forced labor. A recent report from Bloomberg Businessweek uncovered evidence of slavery on palm oil plantations in Indonesia.
FFC realizes that palm oil is an important resource that can bring jobs and investments to the local economies of some of the world’s poorest regions. By voicing our concern with these recent negative developments within the industry, FFC is urging large palm oil producers to consider the human rights of their workers and sustainability of the environment as they plan for the future of their industry.
To view the letter, click here
FFC Signs Climate Declaration
August 7, 2014
FFC has joined many of the country’s leading corporations in calling for the United States government to take steps to respond to climate change. By signing this declaration, FFC has joined Apple, GM, Starbucks, Nike, Disney, and other industry-leading companies in supporting climate-driven policies including higher automotive fuel economy standards and tax credits for wind power.
While tackling climate change will be a longterm project, the cost of inaction is simply too high. FFC believes that working to mitigate climate change is an unprecedented opportunity for American businesses. By signing the Climate Declaration, FFC and dozens of leading American corporations have sent the message to policymakers in Washington that the American business community is ready to meet the challenges of climate change with innovative economic solutions. FFC believes that the business community can and should take the lead on this important issue in the absence of strong governmental policy and action. The signers of the Climate Declaration take climate change seriously. It’s time policymakers took climate change seriously as well.
To view the 2014 climate declaration page, click here
FFC supports the mission of the Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative
July 23, 2014
FFC has joined with investment groups around the world to urge companies that market food and beverage choices to children to join the Council of Better Business Bureaus’ Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative. This voluntary self-regulation program encourages food, beverage, restaurant, media, and retail companies to do their part in combating the childhood obesity epidemic by developing and promoting healthier food and beverage options.
Rates of childhood obesity have skyrocketed over the last three decades. FFC believes that companies that provide food and beverage options to children have a social responsibility to consider the developmental vulnerabilities of children when developing and marketing their products. Advertising unhealthy food and drink opportunities to children exposes companies to unnecessary reputational risk, the threat of increased government regulation, and higher costs. Fortunately, the Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative offers companies the opportunity to take advantage of new and profitable consumer trends. Sales of healthier packaged foods increased by 6% annually from 2002-2008. Foods categorized as “better-for-you” or BFY, account for 70% of the sales growth within the packaged foods industry. FFC believes that advertising healthier food and beverage choices to children is the right thing to do. Joining the Children’s Food and Beverage
Advertising Initiative, is a good initial step in food and beverage companies doing their part in combatting the childhood obesity epidemic while embracing consumers’ shift towards healthier food and beverage options.
To view the letter, click here
FFC supports greater transparency in food labeling
July 11, 2014
FFC, with other investors, is urging corporations to cease directing corporate funds towards defeating GMO labeling ballot initiatives. This is part of an ongoing effort to encourage transparency in food labelling. Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) do not increase agricultural productivity, are unlikely to address poverty and world hunger, and have contributed to crop disease and an epidemic of pesticide resistance. The American public has become increasingly aware of the drawbacks of GMOs. In response, dozens of bills have been proposed nationwide that would require food manufacturers to label genetically modified products as GMOs. Unfortunately, some food companies have spent millions of dollars trying to defeat these initiatives.
Opposing GMO labeling is bad for business. Companies that have opposed GMO initiatives have suffered boycotts, negative social media attention, and divestment campaigns. Polls indicate that the overwhelming majority of Americans support mandatory GMO labeling and increasingly, American consumers are avoiding GMO products. FFC believes that using corporate funds to fight against GMO-related legislation, either directly or through trade groups, exposes these companies to unnecessary reputational risk. FFC supports transparency in food labeling and calls on these companies to cease using treasury funds to oppose GMO initiatives.
To view the letter, click here
FFC op-ed, “Clean Energy Opportunities,” published in Philadelphia Inquirer
June 23, 2014
Philadelphia Inquirer publishes op-ed by Jeff Perkins, FFC Executive Director, about business opportunities with the proposed EPA Carbon Pollution Standards. Perkins writes “These new standards provide an opportunity for Pennsylvania businesses and investors to innovate, reduce risks, and increase returns on their investments.” This is just one example of the policy advocacy work that Friends Fiduciary does to bring an alternative business voice to important issues.
To view the June 10 op-ed, click here
FFC endorses ICCR Statement promoting global health
June 16, 2014
As a member of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR), Friends Fiduciary endorses ICCR’s Statement of Principles and Recommended Corporate Practices to Promote Global Health. Despite widespread declaration and recognition of the human right to health, many members of ICCR, with ministries around the world, continue to witness the undue disease burden borne by the world’s poorest and most vulnerable communities.
The traditional pharmaceutical model — high drug prices in developed countries as a way to offset research and development (R&D) costs and to keep prices low in developing countries — is facing increasing challenges and has led to a gap in research for illnesses that overwhelmingly affect the poor. There are, however, opportunities for pharmaceutical companies to find new ways to fund R&D. Emerging markets, where people are disproportionately affected by under-researched illnesses, present opportunities to simultaneously grow business and promote broader healthcare.
Friends Fiduciary believes that the Statement’s global health principles and recommended corporate practices will assist pharmaceutical companies in promoting the human right to health. As active, socially-responsible and long-term investors, we believe in, and promote, the congruence in addressing the wellbeing of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable as good, sustainable business. The Statement was publicly released on April 7, World Health Day.
To view the Statement, including the listed principles and recommended practices, click here.
FFC signs ICCR Bangladesh Investor Statement
May 19, 2014
A year has passed since the Rana Plaza building collapse in Bangladesh claimed 1,138 lives and threatened the livelihood of the victims’ families. In a May 2013 ICCR Statement, FFC urged clothing brands and retailers to join the The Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety (‘the Accord’). FFC also urged these companies to strengthen local trade unions and ensure living wages, disclose all supplier factories and their programs, and establish grievance mechanisms and effective remedies, including victim compensation.
Over the past year, 160 companies have joined the Accord, and we’ve witnessed collaboration in the creation of the National Tripartite Plan of Action on Fire Safety and Structural Integrity as well as in the adaptation of common inspection standards. The Bangladeshi government has also improved the trade union registration process, with 127 new unions registered since the beginning of 2013.
FFC acknowledges the progress that has been made by multiple stakeholders. In signing this Investor Statement, FFC advocates for greater and faster progress in the following areas: full remediation upon conducted inspections, improved coordination between the Accord and the Alliance (for Worker Safety), expeditious formation of democratically based worker/management health and safety committees, and a commitment to transparency at all stages. FFC additionally calls for broad-scale commitments to the Rana Plaza Donors Trust Fund; less than a fifth of what is needed to meet families’ needs has been pledged or collected.
ICCR statement on the anniversary of the Rana Plaza collapse, April 24th.
Friends Fiduciary calls for increased corporate water disclosure and stewardship
May 1, 2014
Friends Fiduciary has co-signed letters sent to 25 companies that have either declined to participate in or failed to respond to the Carbon Disclosure Project’s (CDP) water questionnaire for 2013. CDP’s water program has become the pre-eminent platform for corporate water disclosure, and a completed questionnaire enables businesses and investors to better understand the risks and opportunities associated with water scarcity and other water-related issues.
Global population growth, climate change, agricultural and industrial demands and point source water pollution are exacerbating water scarcity. As a scarce and valuable resource, water is increasingly subject to regulation, commoditization and ownership conflict. According to the CDP, current “business as usual” water management practices will put approximately $63 trillion, or 45% of projected global GDP, at risk in 2050. Businesses should take a proactive approach to water stewardship in favor of sustained growth, and investors should be privy to risks and how businesses plan to manage and mitigate these risks.
In 2013, 530 institutional investors representing $57 trillion called for greater transparency on corporate water issues from over 1000 companies worldwide. Currently, over 767 institutional investors representing over $92 trillion use the global and standardized CDP data to understand how companies manage climate change and natural resource risks.
As socially-responsible and long-term investors, we recognize that water resource management is of critical importance socially, environmentally and for the sustained success for many businesses. The companies receiving our letters should take the opportunity to respond to the CDP’s 2014 Water Information Request. It is in their interest, and their investors’ interests, to do so.
FFC to Bunge: Reconsider sourcing from palm oil supplier Sarawak Oil Palms Berhad
April 17, 2014
Friends Fiduciary, along with other institutional investors, urges agribusiness giant Bunge Limited to stop sourcing palm oil from Sawarak Oil Palms Berhad (SOP). SOP is not only engaged in rampant deforestation and the clearance of carbon-rich peatland, but is additionally fighting industry initiatives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and protect forests, peatlands and communities.
The state of Sarawak has one of the highest rates of peatland clearance globally, due in part to industry pressure, particularly SOP, to more aggressively expand palm oil development in the region. A 2012 Stanford University study concluded that projected peatland clearance throughout Borneo will, by 2020, result in an additional 558 million metric tons of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere – an amount greater than all of Canada’s (2012) fossil fuel emissions.
Major companies like Nestle, Kellogg, Unilever and Wilmar International have committed to purchase palm oil exclusively from suppliers adhering to environmental and social protections, but Bunge’s primary supplier SOP is known to be actively preventing these companies from implementing their commitments. For example, SOP’s CEO also serves as CEO of the Sarawak Oil Palm Plantation Owners Assocation, and has been using the trade association as a platform to aggressively lobby Sarawak’s government and publicly attack and attempt to undermine Wilmar’s efforts to implement protections. FFC has supported Wilmar’s leadership on development of palm oil that does not contribute to deforestation, development of peatlands and exploitation of local communities.
As a socially-responsible and long-term investor, FFC is concerned about Bunge’s sourcing from SOP despite Bunge’s stated commitment to sustainable sourcing. We believe Bunge could face reputational and market access risks given widespread consumer concern and the uptake of sustainability commitments by consumer companies. FFC urges Bunge to source palm oil responsibly for social, environmental and business reasons.
To view the letter addressed to Bunge, click here
FFC to USDA, EPA: responsibly regulate next generation of genetically-engineered corn and soy and complementary herbicide
April 10, 2014
While Friends Fiduciary does not invest in DOW due to our ESG screens, FFC, with other members of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR), has urged the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to reject applications for the deregulation of new genetically engineered corn and soy. Deregulating these crops – known by Dow Agrosciences’ brand name “Enlist” – will drive up the use of their complementary herbicide “Enlist Duo” and thus the prevalence of its components glyphosate and 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D).
2,4-D is a toxic herbicide that has been linked to cancer, Parkinson’s disease, endocrine disruption, and reproductive problems in humans. 2,4-D is also known to drift, posing a serious threat to rural economies and farmers growing crops that aren’t engineered to withstand the herbicide. Dow Agrosciences’ own Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for Enlist Duo is alarming.
Monsanto’s “RoundUp Ready” system caused a dramatic rise in glyphosate-resistant “superweeds”; Dow is promoting genetically-engineered 2,4-D corn and soy as the solution to combatting glyphosate-resistant superweeds.
Concurrent with the USDA’s regulatory process, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is conducting risk assessments to decide upon the approval of Dow’s proposed new uses of 2,4-D herbicide. The agency will publicize its proposed regulatory decision in the coming months for public review and comment. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has already found both Enlist corn and soy to be in compliance with its regulatory requirements.
Over the last 2 years, the USDA has received comments from over 400,000 individuals and over 150 farm, fishery, public health and environmental groups and private business. FFC calls for the USDA to heed the collective request for a thorough environmental review of Dow’s Enlist. FFC also calls for the EPA to ensure meaningful public participation. Friends Fiduciary both conveys and leverages the concerns of our Quaker constituent base in advocating for good public policy on business related issues.
To learn more, view the letter here
Friends Fiduciary urges Congress to strengthen legislation preventing labor trafficking and protecting child victims
April 3, 2014
FFC urges the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary and the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions to co-sponsor and support the “Fraudulent Overseas Recruitment and Trafficking Elimination Act of 2013” (FORTE) (H.R. 3344) and the “Strengthening Child Welfare Response to Trafficking of 2013” (S. 1823), respectively.
Foreign labor contractors, also known as recruiters, are increasingly relied upon to facilitate the migration of labor from one country to another. While many act ethically and lawfully, many others exploit U.S. non-immigrant visa programs, often deceiving and coercing vulnerable workers into debt bondage or other forms of slavery. H.R. 3344 would allow stricter oversight of contractors, and provisions include requiring full and honest disclosures about work terms and conditions and more strictly enforcing the rule against charging recruitment-related fees.
Children in the child welfare system are among the most vulnerable to human trafficking, for both commercial sexual exploitation and forced labor. Recent reports show that the majority of identified child trafficking victims already had contact, often multiple times, with the child welfare system. S. 1823 provisions include amending the Social Security Act, requiring agencies under the Act to report current or future efforts to address the trafficking of children in their care. S. 1823 provisions also include requiring the Department of Health and Human Services to develop and publish guidelines helping agencies better service child victims and at-risk youth.
In signing onto these letters to Congress, Friends Fiduciary lends support to the efforts of ATEST, a diverse alliance of U.S.-based human rights organizations, as well as the International Labor Recruitment Working Group (ILRWG). Concurrently, FFC acts on its mission to represent the values and beliefs of its Quaker constituents in advocating for social welfare and responsibility.
To view the foreign labor recruitment letter, click here:
To view the child welfare letter, click here:
FFC Announces New Standard Distribution Rate for the Consolidated Fund
March 31, 2014
The FFC Board of Directors has approved a reduction in the standard distribution rate effective with the 2016 semi-annual distributions. The standard rate will decrease from the current 2014 and 2015 level of 4.5% to 4.25% in 2016 and 4.00% in 2017.
In reaching the decision to adjust the standard rate effective in 2016 and 2017, the Board of Directors took into account concerns about inflation and projected capital market returns and the fact that the actual dollar amounts of recent “standard” distributions have been driven upward because of market performance in the years since March 2009. The timing for implementation of the change is intended to accommodate the needs of FFC constituents which do multi-year planning and budgeting. By reducing the standard distribution rate by a modest amount in quarter percentage point decreases, over time, the Board is attempting to provide constituents not only with a greater likelihood of long-term protection of capital against inflation, but also with the necessary time either to plan and budget or to override the standard rate and select a rate above or below standard.
For full announcement, click here
FFC urges stricter speculative position limits on agriculture and energy derivatives
March 11, 2014
Friends Fiduciary, along with other faith based investors, have written in support of Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) regulation while urging the CFTC to regulate beyond their proposed rule. Scholars, governmental agencies and market analysts have all shown that excessive speculation in commodity markets can also excessively influence prices.
Low-income families in the developing world that often buy raw commodities in bulk are most threatened by excessive speculation in commodity derivatives. A 2009 Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations revealed that speculators were responsible for disruptions in the wheat market and the three fold increase in the price of wheat from 2005 to 2008, meaning that millions of low-income families were consequentially spending three times as much on this staple food.
The food and energy price bubbles of 2008 led to 250 million people worldwide without enough food, as well as food riots in 30 countries. In Kenya, Quakers heard these alarms from their own ministry sites.
As socially-responsible investors representing the concerns of our Quaker constituency, FFC urges the CFTC to adopt a lower limit to speculative positions. Spot-month position limits at 25 percent of deliverable supply will not provide sufficient safeguard against excessive speculation, prevent market manipulation and protect farmers and consumers.
To read the full letter, click here:
To view listings of evidence on negative impact of commodity speculation, click here:
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette publishes FFC Executive Director’s op-ed “Smart policy key to investment in the Keystone State”
February 25, 2014
Illuminating the mutualism between sound environmental policy and economic development is an important part of advocating for social and environment responsibility and long term economic stability.
Too often, denying climate change or decrying the false trade-off between addressing climate change and jobs dominate the business opinion headlines. In addressing this skew, FFC seized the opportunity to both convey a progressive long term business view and explain the role of investors in compelling positive change.
Smart policies, like the EPA’s carbon pollution standards for power plants, address the necessity for carbon pollution reductions and boost investment in the clean energy sector. In short, reducing pollution and growing the economy can go hand in hand. Innovative Pennsylvania companies are now building components for wind turbines, solar panels, energy-efficient light bulbs and developing new lightning technologies. In fact, in 2010, Pennsylvania’s “clean economy” was the fourth largest in the country.
Pushing the real connection between environmental regulations and economic opportunity towards preeminence is an important component in advocating for social and environmental responsibility, as public opinion has a major influence on not only what becomes policy, but when that policy is adopted as well. The urgency of climate risk, and the still too prevalent business opinion of either jobs or environment, rather than both, compels Friends Fiduciary toward policy advocacy when we can voice an important business and investor viewpoint.
To view the January 31 op-ed, click here
Friends Fiduciary calls for fossil fuel risk assessment
January 23, 2014
FFC, as part of a coalition of 70 global investors representing over $3 trillion in assets under management, launched the first-ever coordinated effort to spur 45 of the world’s largest oil & gas, coal and electric power companies to assess the financial risks that current and probable future climate policy pose to their business plans.
The World Bank warns of catastrophic climate change impacts at the world’s current path for global warming of 4 degrees Celsius or more. Recent studies by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the International Energy Agency (IEA) suggest that achieving the international goal of limiting global warming to 2 degrees Celsius requires a global carbon budget and leaving proven fossil fuel reserves in the ground.
In 2012 alone, however, the 200 largest public fossil fuel companies collectively spent an estimated $674 billion on finding and developing new reserves, according to the Carbon Tracker Initiative’s Unburnable Carbon report. Some of these reserves, however, may never be utilized due to the probability of increased carbon emission regulation.
FFC supports mitigating climate change risks and is concerned that directing capital towards high carbon assets, in the wake of growing climate change concern and the probability of increased carbon-limiting policy, would ultimately lead to share value loss. As a long term investor, FFC advocates and anticipates a low-carbon future, and calls for companies to assess business plans in an environment of greater fossil fuel emission restrictions.
Click here to view letter and here for list of signatories.
FFC urges SEC to scrutinize biomass energy claims
January 9, 2014
As part of a group of investors representing over $100 billion in assets under management, FFC urges the Securities and Exchange Commission to review filings by three leading U.S. companies – Dominion Resources, Southern Co. and Covanta, which operate some of the largest wood-burning plants in the United States. FFC is concerned about the biomass industry’s misleading “clean” and “carbon neutral” claims as well as the above companies’ non-disclosure of regulatory concerns, particularly in the context in which investment in biomass competes with investment in non-polluting, renewable energy like wind and solar. As expressed in the letter to the SEC: “Bioenergy should be required by the SEC to compete for investment dollars without materially exaggerating its value to the environment, or concealing its weaknesses and uncertainties.”
“Biomass energy” (or bioenergy) refers to the generation of heat and electricity by burning wood and other biological matter as fuel in industrial, commercial, and utility boilers. Biomass energy generation can be carbon neutral if all C02 is offset, yet uncertainties surrounding securing C02 offsets means that “carbon neutral” claims are based on speculation and assumption. Burning biomass also often emits greater “conventional” air pollutants like particulate matter, nitrogen oxides and carbon monoxide per mega-watt hour of electricity produced compared to coal and natural gas.
Greenhouse gas emissions from biomass energy are likely to become subject to new regulations and have already seen cuts in renewable energy subsidies on the state level. Dominion, Southern and Convanta have asserted to state and federal regulators that new policies and regulations could make bioenergy uneconomical, yet these concerns were not disclosed to the SEC and investors.
FFC believes that misleading and incomplete corporate filings challenge the investor’s ability to make informed decisions and compromise the reputation of the responsible companies, which is bad for business, especially in the long-term.
To view the letter sent to the SEC, click here
FFC to BNY Mellon, PNC: No virtual-only shareholder meetings
January 2, 2014
Friends Fiduciary, for the first time, took the lead advocate role in sending letters to BNY Mellon and PNC expressing concern over virtual-only shareholder meetings. Virtual-only shareholder meetings are widely criticized for limiting shareholder participation, and bylaw amendments by BNY Mellon and PNC signaled their intent to conduct virtual shareholder meetings exclusively.
FFC, along with the letters’ signees, have requested that BNY Mellon and PNC continue in-person shareholder meetings and use virtual shareholder meeting technologies only as an adjunct to in-person meetings. Virtual shareholder meeting technologies have the potential to broaden effective ownership by making meetings accessible to shareholders who couldn’t otherwise attend. Many companies have opted to use the “hybrid” model, maintaining in-person meetings while adding a virtual element.
As stated in our letter, in person shareholder meetings are important in that “The purpose of a face-to-face shareowner meeting is not exclusively about exchanges between management and shareholders and vice versa; a crucial element is the opportunity for one shareowner to hear the comments of others, unscreened by management. Without the capacity for shareowners to freely access the microphone to address management and each other, one of the most central attributes and aspects of “ownership” would be lost.”
To view the letter sent to BNY Mellon, click here
To view the letter sent to PNC, click here
Friends Fiduciary noted on “Democracy Now!” for Visa advocacy
December 20, 2013
In a broadcast focusing on American Legislative Exchange Council’s (ALEC) “Institutional Corruption,” FFC earned kudos for advocacy leading to Visa’s withdrawal from ALEC.
FFC co-filed a shareholder proposal with Visa seeking disclosure on corporate lobbying and memberships in lobbying organizations. FFC and other filers withdrew the resolution after Visa informed about its decision to not only drop out of ALEC, but also make additional disclosures available on their website.
This is a “win” from a shareholder advocacy standpoint, and underscores FFC’s belief and cause in reflecting socially-responsible and Quaker values toward strategies for long-term shareholder value.
Click here to view the Dec 11 broadcast. “Quakers” (Friends Fiduciary) are mentioned half-way through the broadcast or on page 4 of the transcript.
FFC pushes for stronger standards for palm oil industry
December 17, 2013
FFC, as part of a coalition of investors representing nearly $270 billion in assets under management, supports palm oil that can be traced to growers not engaged in deforestation, peatland development, and/or human rights violations. In the coming weeks, major palm oil producers, traders, consumers and financiers will be convening to build support for emerging standards that go above and beyond current Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) standards. FFC supports these efforts, and urges companies at all levels in the industry to mitigate the serious environmental, social and business risks associated with current palm oil development practices.
The most widely used vegetable oil in the world, palm oil is mostly produced in Indonesia and Malaysia. Its production is the leading driver for deforestation in both countries, threatening diverse rainforest ecosystems that are host to many endangered species, including the Orangutan. Conversion of peat (stored carbon) swamp forest into oil palm tree plantations is also greenhouse-gas-intensive. Furthermore, the palm oil industry is listed as one of the most notorious for using child and forced labor, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
Increasing media attention and consumer awareness concerning palm oil is reflected by 20 major snack and food companies currently being publicly targeted in NGO-led campaigns that link their brands to tropical deforestation. Recently, a Bloomberg Businessweek exposé detailed evidence of slavery on plantations that sell palm oil to some of the worlds largest brands.
FFC urges companies at all levels of their supply chains to champion the emerging standards for palm oil production. Supporting greater social and environmental responsibility is a practice that can also sustain and boost brand reputation.
To view the letter sent to producers, click here
To view the letter sent to financiers, click here
To view the letter sent to consumer-facing brands, click here
Semi-annual income distribution pays on December 20, 2013
December 16, 2013
The December semi-annual distributions for the Consolidated Fund will be disbursed as scheduled. If you requested direct deposit for your income distribution, it will be deposited into your account on, December 20, 2013.
If you requested payment of your semi-annual distribution via check, the checks will be mailed December 20th, to the address on file. If you would like to receive your next income distribution via direct deposit (ACH transfer) please contact us at email@example.com .
If you requested that all or a portion of your distribution be reinvested, the reinvestment will occur at December 20th’s closing unit price. For an explanation of the semi-annual distributions for the FFC Consolidated Fund click here
FFC endorses ICCR’s Human Trafficking/Modern Slavery Statement
December 12, 2013
Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR) has published its “Statement of Principles & Recommended Practices for Confronting Human Trafficking & Modern Slavery,” and publicly released this statement, along with an extensive list of endorsing companies, investor organizations (including Friends Fiduciary), faith-based communities and non-governmental organizations on International Human Rights Day on December 10th. Starting in the New Year, ICCR will be issuing this statement to companies focused in the food and agriculture sector and the hospitality sector.
The exploitation of persons, for labor or sexual purposes, is the third largest illegal “business” after drug and arms trafficking: in 2012, the International Labor Organization conservatively estimated that some 21 million people worldwide, including in the U.S., remain enslaved.
FFC shares the popular belief that companies have a responsibility to respect human rights, and urges companies to scrutinize their operations and supply chains to ensure they aren’t inadvertently complicit in abuses associated with human trafficking and modern day slavery. Actively working to eradicate these human rights abuses can also alleviate the risks of lawsuits, negative publicity, consumer boycotts, business interruptions and strikes a company can face as a result of being complicit in human rights abuses. Adopting and implementing a comprehensive, transparent and verifiable human rights policy is socially responsible and makes business sense.
To view the statement in full with its principles and recommended practices, click here
FFC shares concern over Amazon’s semi-automatic weapon accessories
December 9, 2013
FFC, along with many institutional investors and asset managers, seeks a review of the company’s sales of military-style assault rifle accessories. Though Amazon doesn’t itself sell guns, it does sell products that may be contributing to gun violence.
Every year, more than 8,000 Americans are killed by guns, and young African-Americans and Hispanic men bear the brunt of this violence. Today, with between 70 and 80 million Americans collectively owning 300 million firearms, one way the gun industry intends to expand is through the sale of firearm accessories.
Accessory products offered by Amazon include the Slide Fire SFS M&P 15-22 kit, which allows the shooter to “shoot as quickly as desired,” according to the product’s description on Amazon.com, and the Enhanced Battery Assist Lever for the popular AR15 semi-automatic rifle, the type of gun used in the Newtown, Connecticut school shootings.
Many groups and individuals are doing their part to help prevent and reduce gun violence. A number of institutional investors, including FFC, do not invest in firearm producers. Others have withdrawn ownership of certain problematic companies, as for example The Philadelphia Board of Pensions and Retirement with its policy to “divest half of its holdings in gun and ammunition manufacturers, distributors and retailers.”
FFC believes that Amazon’s military-style accessories to assault rifles pose unacceptable risks to the health and wellbeing of individuals and communities.
To view the letter, click here.
Reuters story on request by investors to Amazon.
FFC to PepsiCo: avoid sourcing fuel from tar sands
December 5, 2013
FFC and other investors encourage PepsiCo, which operates one of the largest trucking fleets in North America as the continent’s biggest food and beverage business, to adopt a policy to avoid purchasing fuel from refineries that process tar sands, whenever possible. Not all fuels are created equally, and extracting and processing fuels from the Alberta oil sands or ‘tar sands’ is one of the most carbon-intensive, greenhouse gas emitting ways to produce fuel. The development of these oils sands has also been shown to significantly increase levels of carcinogens in watersheds up to 50 miles away.
U.S. refineries are required to publicize whether they source from Canadian tar sands, and at least 19 other companies, including Walgreen’s, Columbia Sportswear, Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s have already publicly committed to source fuel, whenever possible, from the dozens of U.S. refineries that process petroleum from tar sands-free sources. PepsiCo has set targets for improving fuel efficiency, and in its commitment to “Help protect and conserve global water supplies” and “work to achieve an absolute reduction in greenhouse gas emissions,” the company is encouraged to avoid sourcing from tar sands. Doing so can also reduce brand risks, given that PepsiCo is currently the public target of a consumer campaign against sourcing from tar sands.
FFC is concerned about the carbon-intensity and water pollution of tar sand fuel production and the long-term success of companies in which it invests, and calls for PepsiCo to commit to tar sand-free fuel for both its environmental and business implications.
To view the letter, click here
FFC urges Safeway to safeguard from genetically engineered salmon
December 2, 2013
Along with other members of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility, FFC urges Safeway to formally commit to not knowingly buy or sell genetically engineered (GE) salmon or GE seafood, even if approved by the FDA. GE Salmon, engineered to reach market in half the time as conventionally raised salmon, is likely to receive FDA approval in the near future and become the first GE animal approved for human consumption.
More than 300 organizations submitted letters to the FDA voicing concerns regarding environmental and health risks associated with GE salmon, which include the threat of gene contamination and susceptibility to disease that could spread to consumers. Over 400,000 members of the general public have also expressed opposition to an FDA approval. Furthermore, given that the FDA has already acknowledged it will not require GE labeling, consumers will face challenges in avoiding the risks associated with GE salmon. Safeway has the opportunity to act with precaution, champion transparency and avoid consumer backlash through a formal commitment.
In doing so, Safeway would join Target, Meijer, Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s and nearly 5000 other grocery stores that have already committed to this responsibility. In 2011, Safeway committed to having all fresh and frozen seafood be responsibly caught or raised, or from sources in the process of making credit improvements, by 2015. As socially responsible investors concerned about both the health and environmental risks posed by GE seafood and the business implications of supporting products largely opposed by the public, we urge Safeway to go beyond expressing it doesn’t plan on carrying GE salmon and formally commit to not knowingly buy or sell GE salmon or GE seafood.
To read the letter and to learn more about concerns associated with GE salmon, click here:
FFC supports transparency through GMO labeling
November 22, 2013
FFC, as part of a group of investors representing $11 billion in assets under management, is calling for companies to cease using treasury funds to oppose legislation mandating the labeling of foods containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Despite industry assurances that current labeling requirements suffice, the increase in public and consumer demand for GMO transparency has made GMO labeling a highly controversial public policy issue. A July 2013 New York Times poll reveals that 93% of Americans favor the labeling of products containing GMOs, and an October 2010 Harris Poll indicates that nearly half of respondents, in learning a business they patronized had contributed to a candidate or cause that they opposed, would shop elsewhere as long as alternative options were available.
Companies perceived as opposing transparency and the consumer’s right-to-know face substantial business risks, and indeed, many companies that contributed to anti-Prop 37 (California) efforts experienced significant social-media scrutiny and consumer boycotts. In Washington, I-522 attracted extensive media coverage, and the recent victory claim made by the anti-labeling campaign No on 522 is expected to warrant further public and consumer backlash.
Bills that would require labeling of foods containing GMOs have been approved in Vermont and Connecticut, and introduced in over 20 states. Scott Faber, Vice President of Environmental Working Group, says “American consumers simply want the same rights as consumers in 64 other nations that require GMO labeling.” FFC is concerned that companies actively fighting disclosures favored by a vast majority of consumers risk compromising their reputations. Therefore we support GMO labeling transparency both for the consumer’s right-to-know as well as for business reasons.
To view the letter, click here
FFC supports genocide-free investing at ING
November 12, 2013
FFC, along with many other institutional and individual signatories, requested that ING adopt a genocide-free investment policy. In a June 2012 ING Emerging Countries Fund proxy vote, 85% of shareholders expressing an opinion voted in favor of making their funds genocide-free. ING, however, has delayed action and recently announced that it does not intend on taking action. ING explains that in the same proxy vote, shareholders voted to merge the Emerging Countries Fund into the Emerging Markets Equity Fund, and because the former no longer exists, “the shareholder proposal does not apply to any other ING Funds.”
The Emerging Countries Fund shareholders did not disappear; they now hold shares in the very similar Emerging Markets Equity Fund, which holds millions of U.S. dollars in PetroChina, Oil & Natural Gas Corp., Ltd, China Petroleum & Chemical Corporation, and many other companies that help fund genocide in Sudan.
There is strong reason to believe that the remaining shareholders of the Emerging Markets Equity Fund would also support genocide-free investing. A market research study conducted by KRC Research in 2010 reveals that 88% of Americans would like their mutual funds to be genocide-free.
ING’s refusal to implement a policy to avoid investment tied to genocide flagrantly disregards shareholders wishes and raises serious questions about the company’s risk management and governance practices. ING stands in stark contrast to T. Rowe Price, TIAA-CREF, and American Funds, which have all followed through on divesting from genocide.
Click here to learn more.
FFC Executive Director delivers comments at EPA listening session in Philadelphia on proposed standards for existing power plants.
November 11, 2013
FFC Executive Director, Jeff Perkins, spoke at the recent EPA public meeting in Philadelphia on 111 (d) Carbon Pollution Standards for Existing Power plants. The listening session was convened by Shawn M. Garvin, Administrator for EPA’s Mid-Atlantic Region (Region 3) and other EPA officials during which they heard comments from various individuals and groups.
Citing FFC’s long term, values based investment approach, Perkins urged the EPA to “develop and pursue ambitious standards for existing power plants consistent with the large emissions reductions needed to avoid the most devastating human and economic impacts of unabated climate change.” He noted that there is tremendous economic opportunity in tackling climate change if states are allowed to scale up existing successful projects. One such success is the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative in the Northeastern United States. Clear policy is needed to spur new investments in cleaner and more sustainable energy. FFC has supported the EPA guidelines for future power plants and has advocated for their implementation along with the development of guidelines for existing power plants.
Under the Clean Air Act the EPA and states both have roles in the work needed to reduce air pollution from existing power plants. The EPA is currently working to establish guidelines which states will then use to design their own emissions reduction programs. According to the EPA, the “feedback from these 11 public listening sessions will play an important role in helping EPA develop smart, cost-effective guidelines that reflect the latest and best information available.”
To read the comments, click here
FFC calls for action over honey bee die-off
November 5, 2013
FFC, with other socially responsible investors representing more than $31 billion in assets under management, shares its concern over the environmental and economic implications of Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). Companies in the at-risk sectors of food producers and retailers and home improvement retailers are being asked to assess their risk from CCD or their products’ potential contribution to CCD. Honey bees are the most economically important pollinators globally, yet between 2006 and 2011; annual winter die-off reached an average of about 33 percent of total bee population. According to the U.S Department of Agriculture, “if losses continue at (this rate), it could threaten the economic viability of the bee pollination industry… increased costs would ultimately be passed on to consumers through higher food costs.” Considering that “[a]bout one mouthful in three in our diet directly or indirectly benefits from honey bee pollination,” FFC agrees with the USDA that the time for action is now.
Recent science shows that even low doses of exposure to the class of pesticides called neonicotinoids compromise bee immunity against pathogens. With evidence suggesting that the three leading interacting factors contributing to CCD are pathogens, pesticides, and poor bee nutrition, we believe that the pesticide component of CCD offers a compelling point of intervention for at-risk companies.
As diversified investors holding shares in companies dependent on pollinators at several points throughout their supply chains and home improvement retailers which may sell products contributing to the problem, we are encouraging these companies to be proactive by better understanding their exposure to the risks posed by CCD and identifying opportunities to reduce potential impacts.
To learn more, click here for Food producers, click here for Food retailers and click here for Home improvement retailers.
FFC Board Approves Investment Policy Changes
October 25, 2013
The Friends Fiduciary Corporation Board of Directors approved changes to the Investment Philosophyand Guidance policy at its September meeting. The changes reflect continuing concern about the environment and climate change and their implications for companies. Friends Fiduciary will now exclude from its portfolios those companies whose primary business is the mining or production of coal. Executive Director, Jeff Perkins, said, “We are also excluding utilities which rely on coal fired plants for a significant portion of their power generation. Coal is one of the more pollutive fossil fuel sources and we believe there is a strong business, as well as environmental, case for reducing coal production and consumption.” In addition to these policy changes, Friends Fiduciary has further refined its environmental, social and governance screens to more closely focus on those companies in high impact industries such as oil and gas exploration, production, refining and transportation.
For the full Investment Philosophy and Guidance Policy, click here
FFC Continues Its Call for Change in Bangladesh Garment Factories
October 9, 2013
Friends Fiduciary is part of a global initiative coordinated by the Interfaith Coalition on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR), representing over 200 institutional investors urging major clothing producers and retailers to join the Bangladesh Accord. The Accord is an international agreement which seeks greater fire and safety protection for workers. Letters have been sent to 21 leading apparel brands and retailers that, to date, have failed to join the Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety. Companies joining the Accord make binding commitments for changes necessary to ensure worker safety in this industry that has been plagued with fire and safety hazards.
As noted in the ICCR press release on October 9, 2013, “The letter sent to top apparel and retail brands such as Adidas, Ann Inc., Columbia Sportswear . . .Nike, Ralph Lauren and Urban Outfitters cites the Accord as the best path towards the systemic reforms necessary to mitigate against the health and safety risks faced by garment workers in Bangladesh.”
To read the letter click here
To see the companies receiving the letter click here
Quaker Fundraisers Gather in Lancaster, PA
October 3, 2013
The sixth biennial Quaker Fundraisers Gathering, sponsored by Friends Fiduciary, was held in Lancaster, PA September 29 – 30. This year’s gathering had record attendance with Friends from Atlanta, Georgia to Newbury, Oregon. The engaging and informative sessions were kicked off with an inspiring keynote talk by Colin Saxton, General Secretary of Friends United Meeting on faith and money.
For Colin Saxton’s keynote address, click here.
For Jeff Perkins’ opening remarks, click here.
Friends Fiduciary Supports Nutrition Initiative in Food Sector
September 12, 2013
Friends Fiduciary has joined more than 40 socially responsible investors in supporting the Access to Nutrition Index (ATNI) initiative. The goal of the ATNI is to “assess the nutrition policies, practices and performance of the largest food and beverage (F & B) manufacturers in both developed and emerging markets.” The ATNI rankings and report will benchmark corporate practices, as well as assess a company’s portfolio of products. The initiative encourages F & B manufacturers to develop clear and measurable objectives on nutrition and to implement a strict, comprehensive policy for marketing to children across all media channels and countries in which the company operates. In addition, companies are motivated to make sure that products formulated to meet the needs of lower-income consumers don’t increase the risk for obesity and diet related chronic diseases. Friends Fiduciary Corporation believes that health and nutrition are important drivers of growth for the F & B sector, therefore, manufacturers that are the more effective in anticipating and responding to these health and nutritional trends will be better positioned to deliver stronger long-term financial performance.
To read the investor statement, click here.
FFC Asks SEC to Implement Transparency Rules
September 3, 2013
Friends Fiduciary joined investors commending the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for its leadership in producing final rules for the implementation of Section 1504 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (Section 1504). The rules reflect investors’ substantial interests in oil, gas and mining industry payment transparency; development of a public global disclosure standard; and uniform reporting obligations. The rules have been challenged and we are asking the SEC to vigorously defend and implement their carefully considered rules and to work to ensure that the rules go into effect as early as possible. These new rules benefit investors and companies by encouraging greater stability in resource-rich countries; maintaining fair, orderly and efficient markets; and facilitating capital formation.
To read the full letter, click here.
FFC Supports Corporate Transparency Bill
August 15, 2013
Friends Fiduciary joined with other socially-responsible investors to express support for the Incorporation Transparency and Law Enforcement Assistance Act (ITLEAA) in order to provide a safer and more predictable operating environment for investors. The ITLEAA would require companies to disclose information regarding the individuals who established the company. Currently, U.S. companies may be created anonymously, effectively removing transparency from the corporate equation. Secrecy is not conducive to successful investing or business. Both activities are dependent upon access to reliable and accurate information, and a stable environment in which the rule of law, transparency, and accountability are standard practice. This bill encourages transparency for shareholders and sound corporate governance, both of which are values important to Friends Fiduciary.
To read the full letter, click here.
FFC Supports Derivatives Trading Regulation
August 6, 2013
Friends Fiduciary joined Interfaith Center for Corporate Responsibility (ICCR) members in questioning six influential U.S. Senators who are lobbying for a delay in the implementation of a regulatory framework to monitor and regulate derivatives trading. The regulations were developed by the Commodity Future Trading Commission (CFTC) as part of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010. Unchecked derivatives trading played a major role in the crash of the U.S. and global financial system, which resulted in many citizens losing their homes, jobs and pensions. We believe the framework proposed by the CFTC is in the best interests of our financial system, investors and all citizens who rely on its stability and transparency.
To see the full letter, click here.
FFC Supports Vehicle Emission Reform
July 22, 2013
Friends Fiduciary joined fellow members of the Investor Network on Climate Risk (INCR), representing over $11 trillion in assets, in writing to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to support the proposed Tier 3 Motor Vehicle Emission and Fuel Standards. These standards are the most cost effective way to reduce harmful emissions from motor vehicles. These emissions contribute to pollution and health problems, thereby unnecessarily increasing healthcare costs. The economic gains from implementing these standards will far exceed the costs associated with their implementation. Our request urges the EPA to finalize the standards by year end.
To read the full letter click here.
FFC Supports Transparency Initiative
July 15, 2013
Friends Fiduciary joined U.S., U.K. and European investors representing $211 billion in assets in urging major international corporations toward greater transparency in political lobbying and donations to trade associations, think-tanks, and other special interest groups. As Quaker investors, FFC supports the view expressed by the International Corporate Governance Network that “it is a matter of good corporate governance for companies to ensure that any political involvement is both legitimate and transparent, and that companies and their boards are held properly to account for their political activities.”
In addition, citing potential reputational and other risks, the request encourages these corporations to annually disclose their: lobbying activities; memberships in and payments to third party organizations; and the criteria for evaluating those memberships and the compatibility of third party organizations with the company’s stated policies and principles.
To read the full letter, click here.
FFC Urges End to Tar Sand Extraction
June 26, 2013
Friends Fiduciary joined Boston Common Asset Management representing $102.3 billion in assets under management in support of a special proposal on tar sands by World Wildlife Fund Norway and Greenpeace Norway. The proposal, to be presented at this year’s Annual General Meeting of Statoil, urges the Norwegian oil and gas company to withdraw from tar sands extraction. FFC is concerned about the potential economic and environmental risks associated with developing the company’s Canadian oil sands investments. Potential environmental threats include water scarcity, local environmental damage, and impairment to traditional livelihoods. The possibility of legislation that prices or restricts carbon emissions combined with the costs to make oil sands productive could negatively affect the economic health of the company.
To read the full letter, click here.
June 2013 Consolidated Fund Distribution
June 20, 2013
The June semi-annual distributions for the Consolidated Fund have been disbursed as scheduled. If you requested direct deposit for your income distribution, it will be deposited into your account today, June 20, 2013.
If you requested payment of your semi-annual distribution via check, the checks will be mailed today, to the address on file. If you would like to receive your next income distribution via direct deposit (ACH transfer) please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org .
If you requested that all or a portion of your distribution be reinvested, the reinvestment will occur at today’s closing unit price. For an explanation of the semi-annual distributions for the Consolidated Fund click here.
FFC joins Climate Declaration
June 12, 2013
Friends Fiduciary, by signing on to the Climate Declaration by Business for Innovative Climate and Energy Police (BICEP), urges federal policymakers to establish a national climate change strategy. BICEP released the press release declaration today which asserts that America’s leadership in “choosing clean energy, inventing new technologies that other countries will buy, and creating jobs here at home” is an important step towards overcoming climate challenges and taking advantage of a green economic opportunity.
To see the full press release, click here.
FFC supports non-disparagement of Native Americans.
June 7, 2013
Friends Fiduciary signs an investor letter to the House supporting the Non-Disparagement of Native American Person and Peoples in Trademark Registration Act of 2013. This act amends the Trademark Act of 1946 to conclusively presume that a mark that uses the term “redskin” or any derivation, as disparagement when used with references to or images of Native Americans. The act requires commercial registration marks containing the term to be canceled.
To view the full letter, click here.
FFC Advocates for Corporate Responsibility on Conflict Minerals
June 3, 2013
Friends Fiduciary joined with more than 50 sustainable, socially responsible, and faith-based investor groups representing over $450 billion in assets in an Investor Statement in support of the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) Rule 1502 on Conflict Minerals. The SEC’s final rule for Conflict Mineral is part of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. FFC also advocated for this ruling last year which mandates that corporations must determine the origin of “conflict minerals” used in their products. However, since that time, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other business group have filed a lawsuit against the SEC on the section of the act.
These minerals (tin, tantalum, tungsten, gold, etc.) are widely used in cell phones, laptops, and other electronic products. The purpose of the final rules is to assess whether materials originating from or near the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) are benefiting armed rebel groups and thereby financing extreme levels of violence in the eastern DRC and contributing to the humanitarian crisis in the region. As values based investors, Friends Fiduciary believes that this is a step towards greater transparency and accountability in supply chain due diligence for U.S. companies on this important concern.
FFC Calls for Reform in Global Apparel Supply Chains
May 16, 2013
FFC has joined with other ICCR investors representing over $1 trillion in assets in urging industry leaders to implement systemic reforms to ensure worker safety and welfare. Further we are asking companies to adopt zero tolerance policies on global supply chain abuses. The recent calamities in Bangladesh apparel manufacturing factories underscore the critical need for reform. Current models incentivize lax regulations and oversight in order to readily supply North America and Europe with inexpensive goods. This can lead some factories to disregard fundamental human rights of workers, including health, safety, and right to collective bargaining. As investors we are asking retailers to implement the internationally recognized labor standards of the International Labor Organization. The ICCR press release was featured in a New York Times story today.
FFC Supports Efforts to Fight Human Trafficking
May 9, 2013
Friends Fiduciary worked with Alliance to End Slavery and Trafficking (ATEST), a diverse alliance of U.S.-based human rights organizations, to request that members of the House and Senate support increased reporting on human trafficking and funding for family reunification with human trafficking survivors in the United States. Human trafficking and slavery has grown into a $30 billion a year illicit “industry” and increased reporting and monitoring of financial networks are necessary to reducing these destructive activities.
To read the full letters, click here and here.
Quaker Fundraisers Gathering
May 8, 2013
The 2013 Quaker Fundraisers Gathering will be September 29-30 at the Marriott at Penn Square in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. For more information and the registration form, click here.
FFC Calls on Congress to Prioritize Immigration Legislation
May 2, 2013
Friends Fiduciary joined over 70 investors representing more than $890 billion in assets to call on members of Congress to make comprehensive immigration reform a priority, including providing opportunities for currently undocumented immigrants to earn legal status and citizenship in the United States. As the letter states, “Such legislation would be pro-growth and consistent with our country’s values and proud immigrant history.”
To read the full letter, click here.
FFC Op-ed Supports Ohio’s Renewable Energy Goals
April 18, 2013
An op-ed piece by Jeff Perkins, FFC Executive Director, supporting Ohio’s renewable energy standards was published in The Cincinnati Enquirer. Perkins says that current attempts to roll back renewable energy sourcing is short sighted noting that “clean energy is cost-effective, it’s helping Ohioans find jobs, and it’s benefitting businesses that are building their own renewable energy,” including a new solar installation by Campbell Soup Company. Perkins goes on to say that forward thinking energy policies that encourage businesses to develop and maintain sustainable operations can generate strong financial returns and build a better future.
To read the article, click here.
FFC Urges Stronger Disclosure by U.S. Water Utilities
April 8, 2013
Friends Fiduciary joined a dozen investors managing $40 billion in assets in requesting that the National Federation of Municipal Analysts (NFMA) subject water utilities to stronger disclosure requirements on issues like water supply scenario planning, climate change impacts and pricing strategies. This letter follows a recent Ceres report, Water Ripples, Expanding Risks for U.S. Water Providers, which outlines the various challenges and risks that water providers are facing, including failing infrastructure, growing environmental and water availability pressures, and declining revenues.
To read the full letter to NFMA, click here.
FFC Advocates for Renewable Portfolio Standards by Challenging Company Ties to ALEC
April 1, 2013
Due to efforts by the American Legislation Exchange Council (ALEC) to roll back Renewable Portfolio Standards, FFC is urging some companies we own to reconsider their affiliation with the group. ALEC continues to falsely claim that such renewable energy targets are costly to ratepayers. However, non-partisan research organizations have repeatedly published data showing that a state-level renewable energy standard has no significant impact on how much energy rates have changed. In our request FFC notes that ALEC’s efforts conflict with the values and public statements of these companies we hold. Therefore we are encouraging the companies to disassociate themselves from ALEC.
To read the full letter to Duke Energy, click here.
To read the full letter to Comcast Corporation, click here.
To read the full letter to Spectra Energy, click here.
To read the full letter to GlaxoSmithKline, click here.
FFC Supports Payday Lending Regulation
March 22, 2013
Friends Fiduciary urges federal regulators to review bank payday lending practices. Friends Fiduciary, with other socially responsible investors and concerned organizations, has signed onto a letter urging the Federal Reserve, FDIC, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Comptroller of the Currency to regulate payday lending practices. In the fall of 2012, FFC co-filed shareholder resolutions with Regions Financial and Wells Fargo on their payday lending practices and engaged in direct dialogues with these companies. We have partnered with The Center for Responsible Lending in this work.
To view the letter and signatories click here.
Webinar – Save the Date April 24, 2013
March 21, 2013
Join us on Wednesday, April 24 at 1:30 p.m. ET for a review of first quarter 2013 investment performance for the Consolidated Fund and the Short Term Investment Fund. Rich will also discuss recent changes to Consolidated Fund investments. Registration information will be forthcoming.
For more information, please contact us at email@example.com.
SRI E-Bulletin Released
March 20, 2013
Earlier this month, Friends Fiduciary released a brief synopsis of our recent SRI activities to keep our stakeholders better informed of our shareholder advocacy work. Friends Fiduciary has engaged in shareholder advocacy on several social and environmental issues this proxy season, including greenhouse gas emissions, payday lending, and wind production tax credit. We encourage you to share this information with the Peace and Social Concerns Committees in your monthly and yearly meetings.
Click here to view the SRI E-Bulletin.
If you would like to be added to the SRI E-Bulletin list, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
FFC Joins Climate Crisis Panel
March 7, 2013
FFC Executive Director, Jeff Perkins, joined a panel discussion on climate crisis responses and strategies, sponsored by Pennsylvania Interfaith Power & Light and The Social Justice and Environment Committee of Summit Presbyterian Church. Other panelists included representatives from Swarthmore Mountain Justice, 350.org, Citizen’s Climate Lobby, and Earth Quaker Action Team. Jeff presented a snapshot of FFC’s shareholder advocacy and other SRI strategies. Corporate engagement is a key part of FFC’s strategy for socially responsible investing and a practical and important expression of Quaker values. As an investor, Jeff explains Friends Fiduciary has a place at the table to question and potentially influence the policies and practices of the companies in which FFC is invested.
The MP3 file of the panel discussion has been made available by Pennsylvania Interfaith Power & Light via their Facebook page here. For an agenda with time stamps for the audio, click here.
FFC Advocates for Change at PNC Bank
February 20, 2013
In our ongoing engagement with PNC Bank regarding their financing of coal companies doing mountain top removal mining, Friends Fiduciary recently co-filed a shareholder resolution.
Click here to see the resolution which seeks an assessment of greenhouse gas emissions resulting from their lending portfolio. As part of the process, companies can seek permission from the SEC to exclude resolutions from the proxy. PNC’s recent effort to seek such permission on our resolution was just rebuffed by the SEC. Click here for the press release from the lead filer, including a quote from FFC Executive Director, Jeff Perkins.
For L.A. Times article on this resolution click here.
FFC Files Resolutions with Oil & Gas Companies
February 14, 2013
Working with our partners in the Investor Network for Climate Risk and Ceres, Friends Fiduciary co-filed shareholder resolutions with leading oil and gas companies to disclose critical information about their environmental practices and policies. FFC joined the lead filers noted in the press release on resolutions with Chevron, Exxon Mobil and Spectra Energy.
Click here to view the full press release.
Friends Fiduciary Joins the Carbon Disclosure Project
January 11, 2013
As part of Friends Fiduciary’s work to further refine our environmental review of companies in our portfolio and to better assess potential additions to our portfolio, FFC has become an investor signatory to the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP). The CDP is a coalition of over 655 investors representing in excess of $78 trillion in assets encouraging thousands of companies around the globe to begin to disclose information on companies’ strategies for managing climate change and water risks. FFC will now be able to use the information gleaned by the CDP in our dialogs with companies with which we engage in shareholder advocacy. According to Jeff Perkins, FFC Executive Director, data about companies’ greenhouse gas emissions, water usage and strategies for managing climate change and water risks is invaluable and essential in successfully engaging companies to create change.
2012 Semi-annual Distribution
January 4, 2013
December semi-annual distributions were processed as scheduled in December. The June 2013 distribution has been set at $0.90 per unit which is a 4.5% payout ratio.
FFC Supports Wind Production Tax Credit
November 13, 2012
As part of its strategic policy work, Friends Fiduciary advocates for extension of the Production Tax Credit (PTC) for wind energy. Federal support is critical at this juncture to bring wind energy, a clean, sustainable energy source, to scale. Early federal support of horizontal drilling led to the current shale gas boom. If a technology such as hydraulic fracturing, with its attendant environmental risks can receive early federal support, there should be no question of supporting a much cleaner technology and energy source. In addition to the Op-Ed, earlier this month, Friends Fiduciary joined a cross section of social investors, managing over $800 billion in assets, in supporting an immediate, multi-year extension of the PTC in a letter to the House and Senate.
Click here for the full article.
Webinar Recording – FFC’s Quaker Investing and 3rd Quarter Investment Review
November 1, 2012
If you were unable to join the recent live webinar on October 24, 2012 (FFC’s Quaker Investing and 3rd Quarter Investment Review), you have a second chance to see and hear it through a recording of the session. Click here to see and hear the presentation. This link will take you to the webinar host site and you simply click the Playback button. A new window will open which will play the audio in time with the power point slides as originally presented.
Friends Fiduciary Supports Production Tax Credit for Wind Energy
November 1, 2012
Friends Fiduciary joined a cross section of financial managers and advisers managing collectively over $800 billion in assets in supporting an immediate, multi-year extension of the Production Tax Credit (PTC) for wind energy in a letter to the House and Senate. The wind power industry has been a bright spot for employment and has, despite the recession, created one of America’s fastest-growing manufacturing sectors. The PTC is also critical to driving the cost of wind towards parity with traditional energy generation resources.
In the past, whenever the PTC was allowed to expire, the wind industry experienced a striking series of boom-bust cycles. Such short-term and inconsistent policy makes investing in this sector more difficult. A multi-year extension of the PTC would support the most substantive growth and job creation in the US market today, as well as provide the market certainty needed for investment in this sector.
To see the letter in full, click here.
Friends Fiduciary Supports Immigration Reform
October 15, 2012
Friends Fiduciary joined over 30 investors representing $145 billion in urging the bipartisan leadership teams on the Senate and House Judiciary Committees addressing immigration policy to develop meaningful progress on comprehensive immigration reform. The group of investors believes immigration reform is an important human rights issue and a business imperative, issues that should rise above the political gridlock that currently obstructs the work of Congress in providing the opportunity for currently undocumented immigrants to earn a pathway to legal status in the United States.
Many industries depend on workers who are undocumented immigrants to operate their business. Over 40% of Fortune 500 companies were founded by immigrants or their children. Furthermore, the absence of comprehensive immigration reform has had devastating consequences for generations of immigrants in the U.S., the majority of whom came here in search for a better life. Friends Fiduciary believes the U.S. must continue to attract the best and brightest minds, as well as remain a beacon of hope for everyone around the world.
To read the full letter, click here.
Friends Fiduciary Corporation featured in Friends Journal
October 3, 2012
The October issue on the subject of money includes a number of provocative articles about Friends and finances. The FFC article, “Witnessing to Wall Street”, is about our socially responsible investing in a global economy.
Click here to view the articles.
Webinar – Save the Date October 24, 2012
October 1, 2012
Join Friends Fiduciary Executive Directior Jeff Perkins and Chief Investment Officer Richard Kent, CFA, on Wednesday, October 24 for a brief review of our faith-based investment approach and a review of third quarter 2012 investment performance for the Consolidated Fund.
For more information, please contact us at email@example.com.
Finances Through the Lens of Spirit
September 26, 2012
Friends Fiduciary is teaming up with Stony Run Friends Meeting to present “Finances Through the Lens of Spirit: Inviting Open Conversations about Money in Friends Meetings and Organizations” on October 26 & 27, 2012. This seminar will consider how thoughtful and transparent financial management supports Friends’ testimonies and values in our meetings and churches.
Among the topics to be discussed are how to understand financial reports, reflecting Quaker values in managing money, and managing uneven cash flows and restricted funds. This program will address financial concerns of Friends groups of all sizes and levels of assets and financial expertise. For more information and a flyer click here.
Friends Fiduciary Supports SEC Rule on “Conflict Minerals”
September 14, 2012
Friends Fiduciary is part of a diverse coalition of faith-based and socially responsible investors supporting and advocating for the “Conflict Minerals” provision of the Dodd-Frank Act. The recent Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) final ruling mandates that corporations must determine the origin of “conflict minerals” used in their products. These minerals (which include tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold) are widely used in cell phones, laptops, and other electronic products.
The purpose of the final rules is to assess whether materials originating from or near the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) are benefiting armed rebel groups and thereby financing extreme levels of violence in the eastern DRC and contributing to the humanitarian crisis in the region. As values based investors, Friends Fiduciary believes that this is a step towards greater transparency and accountability in supply chain due diligence for U.S. companies on this important concern.
To view the letter to the SEC click here.
Robert Fogal joins Friends Fiduciary as Gift Planning Associate
August 23, 2012
Robert “Bob” Fogal, CAP®, ACFRE, has joined Friends Fiduciary as Gift Planning Associate. In this new role Bob will manage and support our Planned Giving Services, working with development staff and donors to promote planned giving.
With over 30 years’ experience in fundraising and planned giving development, including positions with faith based organizations, Bob has conducted seminars and workshops on charitable giving across the country.
Friends Fiduciary Planned Giving Services supports over 70 Friends organizations in marketing, facilitating and administering more than 300 planned gifts, such as charitable gift annuities and trusts. This robust program also offers individual donors the opportunity to benefit multiple Quaker organizations with a single planned gift. All assets are invested consistent with Friends Fiduciary’s socially responsible investment guidelines.
To learn more about making a planned gift, to request a gift illustration or for information about FFC’s Planned Giving Services please contact Bob at 215-241-7272 ext. 103 or firstname.lastname@example.org .
Investment Performance Webinar Presentation Available
July 27, 2012
The July 26, 2012 webinar on Second Quarter 2012 Investment Performance by Friends Fiduciary Chief Investment Officer, Richard Kent, CFA, is now available.
Click here to access the presentation materials and notes.
July 26 Webinar on Second Quarter Performance
July 13, 2012
Join Friends Fiduciary Chief Investment Officer, Richard Kent, CFA, as he reviews second quarter performance and the economic outlook. The webinar is Thursday July 26, 2012 at 1:30 p.m.
Click here to access the online registration
Then click “Register” and complete the required fields of the online registration form, adding your meeting or organization name in the “Company” field. After you click “Submit” you will receive email confirmation with instructions and the password to join the webinar.
Webinar on Second Quarter Performance
June 29, 2012
Join Friends Fiduciary Chief Investment Officer, Richard Kent, CFA, as he reviews second quarter performance and the economic outlook. The webinar will be on Thursday July 26, 2012 at 1:30 p.m. Information on how to register for the webinar will be sent out next week.
Annual Investor Meeting Materials
June 6, 2012
Over fifty people attended the recent Annual Investor Meeting luncheon to learn about Friends Fiduciary’s recent accomplishments, investment performance and priorities for the coming year. Featured speaker, Yvette Klevan, from Lazard Asset Management briefed the attendees on the European debt crisis and its impact on the capital markets and the U.S. economy.
For the presentation from Lazard click here
Presentation by Richard Kent, FFC Chief Investment Officer click here
Investment Performance Webinar Presentation Available
April 26, 2012
The April 26, 2012 webinar on First Quarter 2012 Investment Performance by Friends Fiduciary Chief Investment Officer, Richard Kent, CFA, is available.
Click here to access the presentation materials. (The audio portion of this presentation is not currently available.)
Webinar on First Quarter Performance
April 19, 2012
Join Friends Fiduciary Chief Investment Officer, Richard Kent, CFA, as he reviews first quarter performance and the economic outlook. The webinar is Thursday April 26, 2012 and is offered at two different times for the convenience of our constituent investors.
For 11:00 a.m. (EDT) session click here to access the online registration
For 7:00 p.m. (EDT) session click here to access the online registration
Then click “Register” and complete the required fields of the online registration form, adding your meeting or organization name in the “Company” field. After you click “Submit” you will receive email confirmation with instructions and the password to join the webinar.
Announcing Short Term Investment Fund
April 2, 2012
Friends Fiduciary is now offering a Short Term Investment Fund. This diversified, fixed income fund provides a socially responsible investment option for constituents who want a competitive return with low volatility. It is designed for funds with a one to five year investment horizon.
Click here for more information on the Fund.
March 19, 2012
The Friends Fiduciary Board of Directors has approved a statement about our socially responsible investment practices. Friends Fiduciary seeks to reflect broadly shared Friends testimonies and values in our work and strives for fairness and integrity in our shareholder interactions with the companies in which we invest.
Click here to read the full statement (PDF download).
Announcing Online Access
December 19, 2011
Friends Fiduciary is very pleased to announce our new online account access! Simply click on the “Access Your Account” tab on the menu bar above, and follow the instructions. This great new feature allows you to see the daily market value of your account at your convenience.