Investors increasingly are directing capital to sustainable investment strategies that reflect environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors. This substantial growth in ESG investing is occurring against the backdrop of an evolving regulatory environment, with different US regulators, such as the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Department of Labor (DOL) taking divergent approaches. Given that climate change and racial equality have been identified as key priorities for the Biden administration, we expect a significant shift in the US regulatory approach to ESG, although it may take some time for that regulatory framework to emerge. Meanwhile, the SEC Examination and Enforcement Staff will likely focus their efforts on identifying what they view to be inaccurate or incomplete disclosure on ESG-related issues, and on misconduct involving the management and sale of ESG investment products by asset managers and financial intermediaries.
Click here to read our comparison of recent SEC and DOL activity relating to sustainable investing, as well as steps asset managers can take to minimize the risk of potential SEC examination and enforcement activity.
This article was originally published in the March 2021 issue of The Investment Lawyer.