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Time for SSAs to be more social

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By Frank Jackman, Lewis McLellan
02 Jul 2020

Money market investors are beginning to feel left out of the ESG revolution sweeping capital markets. With the coronavirus pandemic bringing social concerns to the fore, the time is ripe for SSAs to show the kind of leadership they have demonstrated in the bond markets.

How one’s money is invested has become almost as important as what it earns over the past few years.

Screenwriter and director Richard Curtis launched his “Make My Money Matter” campaign earlier this week to put pressure on UK pension funds to divest away from industries that harm people and the planet.

Barely a corner of capital markets has escaped the touch of ESG. Even commercial paper has seen a few private sector examples of green and social products.

But the SSA borrowers have been conspicuous by their absence in the ESG money markets. Despite their dominance of the short dated issuance volumes, they have yet to embrace ESG CP.

Some complain that the tenor is too short for sustainable lending but MünchenerHyp has developed a model where CP provides a financing bridge until enough assets have been accumulated to justify a bond.

Others say that the burden of ESG reporting is not worth it for such short-lived funds, but borrowers like the International Finance Corporation have demonstrated the value of an organisation’s impact report to ESG-minded investors is greater than the value of a use of proceeds report for a single asset.

Providing short term liquidity to admirable borrowers is a valuable service, as is pushing for greater oversight over how capital is deployed. The CP market has as much right as any other to participate in the ESG revolution, and SSAs should assume their traditional role at the forefront.

By Frank Jackman, Lewis McLellan
02 Jul 2020