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Clayton Comments on ESG Disclosures; Report Explores Realities of ESG Investing

SEC Chairman Jay Clayton at a recent meeting of the Investor Advisory Committee discussed disclosures on sustainability and ESG topics, noting increased disclosure of ESG information by issuers as well as requests for ESG information by investors. Clayton also recognized efforts by third parties to develop disclosure frameworks for ESG and calls for issuers to follow such disclosure frameworks, but the SEC chairman cautioned that issuers should not be required to follow these frameworks in order to comply with SEC rules. “Each company, and each sector, has its own circumstances, which may or may not fit within a standard framework,” he said. Clayton also touched on the use of ESG as an investment strategy, saying that the SEC does not regulate the merits of any particular strategy. “[W]hat is important is that investors have full and fair disclosure of the material facts about the investment strategy their fiduciary is following so that they are in a position to make informed investment choices.” A fuller discussion of Clayton’s session at the IAC meeting is available on Harvard Law School’s Corporate Governance blog. Meanwhile, a Bloomberg report examines the realities of ESG investing, from the high costs for investors, revenue possibilities for asset managers and the broad criteria that sometimes make that can make ESG products difficult to differentiate from other index funds.