- Modern capitalism mostly concerned with short-term gain
- Seeks to end quarterly earnings guidance
- Eyes “loyalty-driven shares to counter short-termism”
Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore says that he wants to end the practice of quarterly earnings guidance and “explore issuing loyalty-driven securities,” according to Reuters.
Alongside David Blood, a senior partner of the “green” fund firm Generation Investment Management, Mr. Gore introduced a blueprint for “sustainable capitalism.”
Gore says that it would behoove the financial industry to adopt his blueprint in order to support lasting economic growth.
“While we believe that capitalism is fundamentally superior to any other system for organizing economic activity, it is also clear that some of the ways in which it is now practiced do not incorporate sufficient regard for its impact on people, society and the planet [emphasis added],” Gore said.
Gore’s blueprint suggests changes in corporate compensation practices, putting more emphasis on bonuses linked to multi-year performance as opposed to individual fiscal years, the Reuters report states. He said pension funds play a vital role in incentivizing managers to make long-term investment decisions, which would then translate into a healthier society and planet.
“(They) have a fiduciary obligation to maximize the long-term performance of their assets to the maturation of their long term liabilities,” Gore said. “If pension funds turn to managers of their assets and compensate them with a structure that incentivizes them to maximize performance on an annual basis, they should not be surprised if that is what their managers end up doing.”
Echoing Mr. Gore’s remarks, David Blood said capitalism has been “blighted with short-termism and an obsession with instant investment results,” which, he claims, has contributed to market volatility, increased “income inequality,” and distracted people from saving the planet.
Blood said that the campaign for “sustainable investment” has suffered because businesses worry about the high costs involved with environmental changes and that business don’t grasp “how value-destructive some elements of modern capitalism had become.”
“…in America, as soon as you say the word ‘sustainability’ people think of socially-responsible investing, tree-hugging and we don’t believe that at all. We think sustainability is just best practice in business,” he said.
Blood, a former CEO of Goldman Sachs Asset Management, introduced a five-step plan that he believes will resurrect the discussion on how to “clean up capitalism and put companies, investors and stakeholders on the path towards long-term, sustainable profit,” Reuters reports.
Of the five steps he introduced, one of them calls for an end to quarterly earnings guidance from companies, which he claims incentivizes executives and investors to base everything on short-term rewards as opposed to long-term objectives.
“This is a direct appeal, dare I say, attack on short-termism in business,” Blood dared to say.
“Today the average mutual fund in the U.S. turns over its entire portfolio every 7 months; 20 years ago it was every 7 years. Something has fundamentally changed and the problem with that is it means we’re not making good investing decisions… and not delivering proper and efficient wealth creation.”
After being rewarded with numerous accolades and a Nobel Peace prize for investigating in “environmental awareness,” Gore’s message seems to have faded into the background. Some believe this is due to the fact that most Americans are more concerned the U.S. economy than they are with the environmental impact of bovine flatulence.
Consequently, some critics believe that this latest appeal from Gore and Blood is simply an attempt to revive the environmental message via the the global economy discussion.
“We went down this path because we fundamentally believe this is relevant to business. This has always been about value creation and this whole conversation about sustainable capitalism is not a new movement,” Blood said.
“While governments and civil society will need to be part of the solution to these challenges, ultimately it will be companies and investors that will mobilize the capital needed to overcome them.”