katie feb 2013 smallLast month, the Obama administration released a report on the effects of self-interested advice from advisers on returns for retirement savings accounts. The report and accompanying fact sheet precede an unreleased rule from the Department of Labor on the extension of fiduciary duty requirements to additional types of retirement advisers.

This is the latest in a series of public policy conversations about the law and practice of fiduciary duty governing the investment of retirement funds. Reforming fiduciary duty regulation for ERISA-compliant pension funds was a major cornerstone of last year’s US National Advisory Board recommendations for the development of impact investing. The same issue featured in a variety of ways in the broader reports associated with the Social Impact Investing Task Force, convened under the UK Presidency of the G8 two years ago. The theory of fiduciary duty has received even more attention from scholars and practitioners rethinking the role that investors play in society – see for instance the many articles gathered in the Handbook of Investment and Fiduciary Duty, published by Cambridge University Press in June 2014.

Fiduciary duty defines the playing field for investment practice within retirement funds, governing not only the “what” that savings are invested in—of interest to responsible and impact investing stakeholders—but the “how” of how they get invested, a main focus of last month’s report from the Council of Economic Advisers. Reshaping the practice of fiduciary duty could have a profound impact on these sizable, long-term-oriented funds, and the lives of retirees.

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Annual Report 2014This past year saw continued growth in and attention to responsible investment, and the IRI’s work has tagged along as the field changes. We have continued our multi-year work on issues ranging from place-based analyses of investment readiness to the investment beliefs that may shape how pension funds adopt responsible investment strategies—and along the way have expanded work in asset classes such as infrastructure and fixed-income investing, and deepened our work on investing in sustainable communities in a handful of metropolitan regions in the US.

We continue to think about the intersection of impact investing and public policy. Our formal project, which began in 2010 as a partnership with InSight at Pacific Community Ventures, received a significant boost in 2014 with the creation of the Social Impact Investment Taskforce. We spent time this year diving into specifics of the US impact investing policy space through a partnership with InSight and Enterprise Community Partners, and released a global state-of-play report on impact investing policies in countries across the world: “Impact Investing Policy in 2014: A Snapshot of Global Activity.” The report includes frameworks for mapping and developing the policy system, examples of specific existing policies, and insights into intersections with infrastructure investment and international development.

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“Diversity and Inclusion: The Business Case for Investors”

Thursday, March 26, 2015
2:00 PM Eastern/11:00 AM Pacific

William R. Atwood,
Executive Director of the Illinois State Board of Investment;
Erika Seth Davies,
Director of External Affairs at ABFE;
Jay Rehak,
Trustee at the Chicago Teachers’ Pension Fund, and
Renaye Manley from SEIU Capital Stewardship
Michael Garland, Assistant Comptroller for the City of New York

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