Inside ESG Ratings: How Companies are Scored
Back in 1972, environmental, social, and governance (ESG) investing had a long way to go.
At the time, ESG research was a nascent field, but it paved the way for the booming investment strategy. Now, it is estimated that one in every three investments in the world will be ESG-mandated by 2025—with assets projected to reach $53 trillion.
This infographic from MSCI shows what’s behind a company’s ESG rating, and where the expansive universe of data comes from.
The ESG Data Universe
Drawing on over 1,000 data points, MSCI ESG Research collects data from a variety of sources:
- Company filings: Proxy reports, sustainability reports, shareholder results, voluntary company ESG disclosures
- NGOs: Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB), UN Sustainable Development Goals
- Government: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, European Central Bank, EU Taxonomy
- Media sources: Major headlines
- Alternative data: Geo mapping, water scarcity data, flood risk analysis
Across the expansive data frontier, these are just some of the sources that are drawn on. Typically, a significant amount of data goes beyond what a company will voluntarily provide.
ESG Ratings: The Two Fundamental Questions
During this process, there are two key questions that underlie ESG ratings:
- Which ESG issues could cause harm to investors?
- Which ESG issues may create opportunities, relative to their peers?
To answer these, MSCI uses a combination of technology and ESG analysts.
Next, a company-specific score is calculated based on three pillars. Here is a snapshot of some of the key issues that fall within each of the E, S, and G pillars:
|Climate Change||Human capital||Corporate governance
|Pollution & Waste||Stakeholder opposition||Corporate behavior
|Environment opportunities||Social opportunities|
So how does this break down for a specific company?
Case Study: Oil & Gas Company
Harnessing artificial intelligence, an ESG analyst looks at a petroleum company to assess its impact on sustainability through a top-down approach. They focus on the most relevant issues including:
Tons of CO2 emitted/$ million annual sales
Indigenous Rights Policy
Executive compensation structure
|Pollution & waste:|
Tons of CO2 emitted/$ million annual sales
|Supply-chain labor standards:|
Partnering with a diverse set of suppliers on sustainability issues
Spills, notice of violations, compliance fines
Importantly, this shows just a snapshot of the process, while ESG analysts do the heavy-lifting.
The ESG Ratings Scorecard
Finally, based on a thorough analysis of the most relevant themes and issues facing a company, a final score is assigned. Companies are grouped according to three primary tiers:
|CCC, B||BB, BBB, A||AA, AAA|
These scores can influence investor decisions on many levels:
- Investors can prioritize a company’s resilience to unanticipated and financially damaging ESG risks.
- Ratings provide a launching point for shareholder engagement on ESG performance and how investment products are created.
- Investors can find opportunities in new and existing markets.
- Investors can make informed ESG decisions in the medium and long term.
Why Do ESG Ratings Matter?
Today, investor demand is one of the chief drivers of ESG investing.
Alongside this, reputational benefits and higher risk-reward tradeoff are playing a larger role in how investors think about sustainability and their investments. But of course, ESG ratings alone are not the entire picture.
By combining ESG ratings and traditional financial analysis, investors can put together a more discerning picture of a company’s risks and opportunities.
Visualizing the Economic Impact of British Columbia’s Golden Triangle
British Columbia’s Golden Triangle generates massive revenue and investments for the province, but where did it all begin?
The Economic Impact of British Columbia’s Golden Triangle
At the heart of British Columbia’s mining industry lies the Golden Triangle. This region has helped transform the province’s mining industry into a significant source of revenue and investment.
In 2020, the Golden Triangle accounted for roughly 44% of the $422 million in mineral exploration expenditures in British Columbia. In 2019, the Red Chris and Brucejack mines contributed around $1 billion to the province’s estimated annual gross mining revenues.
This infographic is sponsored by the B.C. Regional Mining Alliance (BCRMA) which brings the best of this region to the world through a partnership between indigenous groups, industry, and provincial government representatives.
Here is how the Golden Triangle began.
The Golden Triangle’s Unique Geology
Between 220 and 175 million years ago, the Golden Triangle’s wealth was forming deep in the Earth for the world to discover. Most metal deposits form from superheated water that cycle over many kilometers, collecting metal atoms as they rise to the surface of the Earth’s crust and settle into deposits.
Industry, government, and university geologists have worked for over a century to understand the Golden Triangle’s unique geology to uncover its mineral wealth. This unique geology cradles the world-class deposits that define the legendary “Golden Triangle” of British Columbia.
A History of Discovery and Mining in the Golden Triangle
Historical gold rushes brought mining to the area, but the region’s vast copper deposits will deliver the key mineral for B.C.’s green future. More than 150 mines have operated in the area since prospectors first arrived at the end of the 19th century.
- 1861: Alexander Choquette kicked off the Stikine Gold Rush after finding gold at the confluence of the Stikine and Anuk Rivers.
- 1918 – 1952: The first big discovery in the Golden Triangle was at the Premier Gold Mine, which started operations in 1918. It produced 2 million ounces of gold and 45 million ounces of silver. Today, Ascot Resources is re-starting processing from this gold mine.
- 1964: The Snip Mine was discovered by Cominco but the deposit stayed dormant until 1986. The mine produced approximately 1 million ounces of gold from 1991 until 1999. Today, Skeena Resources is advancing the Snip Project.
- 1994: Eskay became Canada’s highest-grade gold mine and the world’s fifth largest silver producer, with production above 3 million ounces of gold and 160 million ounces of silver. Skeena Resources is also bringing the Eskay mining back into production.
- 2009: The discovery of the Brucejack gold and silver deposit led to the development of an underground mine. The mine has produced 1,230,644 ounces of gold since it began operations in 2017.
- 2013: The KSM Project is one of the largest undeveloped gold projects in the world. A Preliminary Feasibility Study estimates proven and probable reserves total 38.8 million ounces of gold and 10.2 billion pounds of copper.
- 2015: The Red Chris shipped its first load of copper concentrate. In 2020 metals production was 88.3 million pounds copper and 73,787 ounces gold. Imperial Metals and Newcrest jointly operate the mine.
This long tradition of discovery and mining is laying the foundations for the next generation of investment.
Today’s Golden Age for Exploration and Development
Continued exploration is necessary for new discoveries and advancing projects to new mines. More importantly, the minerals discovered today will be needed in the low carbon economy and British Columbia—in particular, the Golden Triangle will play its part in delivering metals for renewable technology.
|British Columbia||Northwest Mining Region||The Golden Triangle|
|Average Expenditure Per Project||$1.6M||$3.4M||$7.09M|
Source: Based on data collected for the EY LLP, 2020 British Columbia Mineral and Coal Exploration Survey
Gold and copper account for most of the exploration in the Golden Triangle, but other commodities for the low-carbon economy such as silver, nickel, and zinc also attract interest. A strong exploration industry is the beginning for future investment, new jobs, and community development.
A Bright Future: Investing in Community
The Golden Triangle continues to attract exploration activity as infrastructure and community development lays the success for future generations and industries.
- Agreements with First Nations (Tahltan and Nisga’a Nations)
- 38% of expenditures stays in the region
- 97% stays in British Columbia
- 150+ communities benefit
- The paving of the Stewart-Cassiar highway
- The opening of ocean port facilities for concentrate export at Stewart
- The completion of a $700-million high-voltage transmission line bringing power into the region
This is a new beginning for the continued economic impact of British Columbia’s Golden Triangle.
A Geographic Breakdown of the MSCI ACWI IMI
The MSCI ACWI Investable Market Index (IMI) covers 99% of the investable global equity market. Here, we show its region and market breakdown.
A Geographic Breakdown of the MSCI ACWI IMI Index
How can investors track stock markets around the world?
Using the MSCI All Countries World Index Investable Market Index (MSCI ACWI IMI), investors can benchmark their portfolios to a comprehensive group of developed and emerging markets. With over $4.2 trillion in assets benchmarked to the ACWI—about 4% of all managed assets globally—the index is widely quoted.
In this graphic from MSCI, we explore a geographic breakdown of the MSCI ACWI IMI index, and how it has changed over time.
What is the MSCI ACWI IMI?
The MSCI ACWI IMI is a leading global equity index. It tracks the performance of a basket of securities that are intended to represent the entire global stock market. Altogether, it covers:
- 9,200 securities
- 23 developed markets
- 27 emerging markets
- 99% of the investable global equity market
Using a standardized approach, the index includes businesses of all sizes from small to large market capitalization.
The MSCI ACWI IMI Index is broken down into broad regions and specific markets, such as North America and the U.S. respectively. Below, we show the specific market weights of the index as of July 31, 2011 and July 31, 2021. We also show how much these weights have increased or decreased over the last 10 years.
|Market||Region||2011 Weight||2021 Weight||Percentage Point Change|
|Canada||North America||4.74%||2.91%||-1.8 p.p.|
|U.S.||North America||43.34%||58.61%||15.3 p.p.|
|United Kingdom||EMEA||8.28%||3.99%||-4.3 p.p.|
|Czech Republic||EM||0.05%||0.01%||0.0 p.p.|
|Saudi Arabia||EM||0.00%||0.36%||0.4 p.p.|
|South Africa||EM||1.00%||0.44%||-0.6 p.p.|
|United Arab Emirates||EM||0.00%||0.09%||0.1 p.p.|
|Australia||Asia Pacific||3.34%||1.94%||-1.4 p.p.|
|Hong Kong||Asia Pacific||1.11%||0.79%||-0.3 p.p.|
|Japan||Asia Pacific||8.37%||6.22%||-2.2 p.p.|
|New Zealand||Asia Pacific||0.07%||0.09%||0.0 p.p.|
|Singapore||Asia Pacific||0.74%||0.32%||-0.4 p.p.|
Note: numbers may not sum to 100 due to rounding. EM stands for Emerging Markets, and EMEA stands for Europe, Middle East, and Africa.
Over the last decade, the UK’s index weighting has halved. Brexit uncertainty caused British stocks to underperform relative to other markets. In addition, the UK’s public equity marketing has been shrinking, with the number of listed companies falling by 21% in just eight years.
Japan saw its weighting decline by more than two percentage points. The country has faced a very slow recovery since the asset price bubble in 1989, and the stock market has yet to surpass its previous peak.
On the other hand, China’s weighting in the MSCI ACWI IMI has increased over the last 10 years. This is primarily due to two factors:
- China A shares, shares of mainland China based companies that are quoted in the local renminbi currency, were previously only available to domestic investors. China’s market reforms made them more widely accessible to international investors.
- As accessibility and growth increased in the region, foreign investors expressed increased interest in the Chinese market. This drove up demand for the country’s stocks.
Perhaps the biggest takeaway from this data is the increasing dominance of the U.S. stock market, which now makes up almost 60% of the index. What implications does this have on the MSCI ACWI IMI index’s diversification?
Revenue Exposure of the MSCI ACWI IMI
As it turns out, the index is more diversified than it may seem at first glance. American companies have international operations, and earn revenue from many different markets. This makes the revenue exposure of the index much more spread out across each region.
|Region||% of Revenue Exposure|
Note: numbers may not sum to 100 due to rounding. Countries included in Other are Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Bulgaria, Bahrain, Benin, Botswana, Cote D’Ivoire, Estonia, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Croatia, Iceland, Jamaica, Jordan, Kenya, Kazakhstan, Lebanon, Sri Lanka, Lithuania, Morocco, Mali, Mauritius, Niger, Nigeria, Oman, Palestine, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, Senegal, Togo, Tunisia, Trinidad and Tobago, Ukraine, Vietnam and Zimbabwe.
On a revenue exposure basis, North America—where the U.S. is by far the largest market—has a weighting of just over 30%. Emerging markets take the top spot, making up over a third of the index’s revenue exposure. This presents an opportunity for investors, as these markets are projected to have higher GDP growth compared to North America.
For investors looking to capture the world’s stock market performance, the MSCI ACWI IMI can be a good benchmark. The index offers comprehensive and diversified exposure to various markets. Through regular reviews and rebalancing, it also adjusts to market movements. This ensures it continues to accurately reflect the composition of the global stock market over time.
While investors can’t invest in the index itself, they can invest in a product that tracks the index—and be poised to take advantage of opportunities around the globe.
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