ISS has filed a comment with DOL/EBSA on the ESG proposal. An excerpt, and the full text below:
While the Department seems to recognize the economic relevance of ESG factors in theory, the Proposing Release nonetheless perpetuates outdated assumptions about ESG investing. As a result, the proposed amendment of Rule 404a-1 imposes unnecessary burdens on the selection of ESG investments, even where the fiduciary has found such investments to be prudent after evaluating them solely on pecuniary grounds. The permissible consideration of non-pecuniary factors under the proposed amendment is confusing as well. The Department characterizes this rulemaking as a confirmation of existing sub-regulatory guidance, but that is not the case. Whereas existing guidance employs an economic equivalence test for assessing alternative investments, the proposed rule requires that such alternatives be economically “indistinguishable.” In so doing, the proposal creates a new—and, ISS fears, unworkable—standard for ERISA fiduciaries.