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Vanguard Group faces backlash for 'taking orders' from climate skeptics and spurning ESG activists, who are calling firm to account with PR campaign

Sunrise Project is targeting Vanguard, its staff and investors with a localized advertising blitz over NZAM withdrawal last year.

Author Oisin Breen February 2, 2024 at 3:27 AM
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Roberta Giordano: We’ve tried many times to engage Vanguard directly ... to no avail.
Brooke Southall and Keith Girard contributed to the editing of this article.

Randy Bullard

Randy Bullard

February 2, 2024 — 3:29 PM
I think this is a somewhat backwards positioning of Vanguard's choice to leave NZAM, and a backwards read on who is really playing politics - Vanguard, or NZAM? NZAM is a non-governmental industry consortium attempting to coordinate the investment activity of all global capital markets, leveraging asset managers as the investment control choke point, to force divestiture and other coordinated capital markets activity to a achieve a specific set of carbon reduction objectives. That's not conspiracy theory or right or left political spin. That's just what NZAM is and does per their own mission statement right on their main web page (https://www.netzeroassetmanagers.org/commitment/). Whatever one's feelings of whether it's appropriate for Vanguard and other managers to coordinate in this manner or for this specific political objective... the choice to become an NZAM member and implementor of this regimen is voluntary, and the NZAM obligations are riddled with fiduciary conflict. No manager should ever implement NZAM constraints or be "NZAM Compliant" if the impact would be to increase cost or risk, or reduce returns for their customers, relative to being non-NZAM compliant. Vanguard realized that NZAM membership itself is a violation of their fiduciary obligations to customers, insofar as it's a promise/obligation to violate client fiduciary obligations in the future. Agreeing to implement the process and objectives outlined in the NZAM mission statement is a violation of fiduciary obligation. There's no amount of lawyering, or political hand waving that will change that, and certainly no sad ad campaign from climate activists.

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