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In brief

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 hereĀ 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.

Author

Jennifer L. Klass serves as the co-chair of Baker McKenzie's North America Financial Regulation and Enforcement Practice, which provides clients with a full range of regulatory advice and enforcement counseling. Jen is an experienced financial services regulatory lawyer with particular focus on investment adviser regulation and the convergence of investment advisory and brokerage services. She regularly represents clients before the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), both in seeking interpretative guidance and in managing examination and enforcement matters.

Author

Amy serves as the Co-chair of Baker McKenzie's North American Financial Regulation and Enforcement Practice, which provides our clients with a full range of regulatory advice and enforcement counseling. Amy also serves on the steering committees of the Firm's Global Financial Services Regulatory and Global Financial Institutions Groups. Previously, Amy has served as chief litigation counsel at the US Securities and Exchange Commission's (SEC) Philadelphia regional office and managed a team of lawyers overseeing a wide variety of enforcement matters.

Author

Jonathan Hoffman is an associate in Baker McKenzie’s North American Financial Regulation and Enforcement Practice, which provides our clients with a full range of regulatory advice and enforcement counseling. Jonathan is Certified Information Privacy Professional (IAPP-certified CIPP/US) and a Legal Lean Sigma® Yellow Belt recipient.