SWS is honored to partner with BlackRock Inc., Goldman Sachs Asset Management, Lord, Abbett & Co., Morgan Stanley Investment Management, Vanguard Group Inc., and Loop Capital Markets in developing the Municipal Issuer Racial Equity & Inclusion Engagement Framework.
This framework aims to open voluntary dialogue with municipal issuers on critical issues surrounding racial equity and inclusion.
The protests that gripped the U.S. in the summer of 2020 underscored the need for investors to know what cities are doing to promote racial equity, said Alexa Gordon, head of municipal ESG at Goldman Sachs Asset Management. She said that eventually the responses may help investors decide what to buy.
“There may be a time where we look to invest in certain issuers because they are willing to engage with us,” she said.
The firms aren’t bound to use the information in their investment decisions, nor will the underwriters require governments to participate. Yet backers said the involvement of such massive investment companies gives the project significant heft and lets governments know that social concerns are beginning to matter to buyers of their bonds.
“These are among the largest municipal bond holders; they are mammoth institutions that can impact pricing levels on municipal bonds and their position is that we need this information,” said Suzanne Shank, chief executive officer of underwriter Siebert Williams Shank. “Issuers want to access the best rates at the best time in the market. If investors are demanding this, we want to make our issuer clients aware that this is something that will be increasingly scrutinized.”
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By Danielle Moran
September 24, 2021