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Keeping you in-the-know on environmental, social and governance developments

The SEC’s 2024 Division of Examination’s Examination Priorities rings of its recent $19 million settlement with DWS about that firm’s practices related to ESG practices and procedures in investment strategies.

“The Division continues to prioritize examinations of registered investment companies, including mutual funds and ETFs, due to their importance to retail investors, particularly those saving for retirement. Examinations of registered investment companies often include assessing, among other things, their compliance programs and fund governance practices, disclosures to investors, and accuracy of reporting to the SEC.” 

I read somewhere very recently (forgive an old man for not remembering where) that the DWS enforcement and fine were not fundamentally ESG-specific, but were instead really about fund governance and conformance to its publicly-disclosed strategy. ESG simply happened to the the subject matter. That is spot on given that the SEC has no specific powers related to environmental and social issues except in very limited circumstances. For the time being, investors create their own ESG risk by virtue of how they portray – and implement – ESG investment strategies. SEC is making it known they continue to be on the lookout to see how well investors walk the talk.

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The Editor

Lawrence Heim has been practicing in the field of ESG management for almost 40 years. He began his career as a legal assistant in the Environmental Practice of Vinson & Elkins working for a partner who is nationally recognized and an adjunct professor of environmental law at the University of Texas Law School. He moved into technical environmental consulting with ENSR Consulting & Engineering at the height of environmental regulatory development, working across a range of disciplines. He was one… View Profile