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Laura Nishikawa

Laura Nishikawa

Managing Director, ESG Research

Laura Nishikawa leads a global research team responsible for producing ESG-related research content and developing models to help institutional investors identify, measure and manage investment risks and opportunities arising from significantESG issues. Laura joined MSCI in 2010 through the acquisition of RiskMetrics. Laura received her Masters degree in International Economic Policy from Columbia University (SIPA), and her Bachelors degree from McGill University, and is a CFA® charterholder.

Research and Insights

Articles by Laura Nishikawa

    Corporate Disclosure in a TCFD World

    Blog | Sep 24, 2018 | Laura Nishikawa

    In June of 2017, the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosure (TCFD) released climate-related disclosure recommendations to companies and investors that included a framework for better company disclosure and a request for climate scenarios as part of that disclosure. But for investors looking to incorporate environmental risk into their process, there might be a pretty big catch: We mapped over 140 MSCI ESG Research climate-related data points to the TCFD framework and found a...

    Foundations of ESG Investing – Part 4: Integrating ESG into Factor Strategies and Active Portfolios

    Report | Jun 7, 2018 | Dimitris Melas , Laura Nishikawa , Linda-Eling Lee , Guido Giese , Zoltán Nagy

    How can ESG characteristics be integrated consistently across factor-based and active equity allocations? In Part 4 of the Foundations of ESG Investing paper, we discuss two approaches to applying ESG ratings to factor-based allocations – a one-step and a two-step approach – asking which has done a better job at combining the underlying strategy with ESG while maintaining exposure to target factors. We then investigate overlaying ESG ratings and ESG momentum on the historical holdings of...

    Foundations of ESG Investing – Part 3: Integrating ESG into Indexed Institutional Portfolios

    Report | May 16, 2018 | Dimitris Melas , Laura Nishikawa , Linda-Eling Lee , Guido Giese , Zoltán Nagy

    According to recent surveys, asset owners’ have shifted their main focus to ESG’s financial benefits, as opposed to social benefits. In the third part of this paper, we discuss how ESG can be integrated into indexed allocations using MSCI ESG Ratings, which provided better risk-adjusted returns from August 2010 to December 2017 than the MSCI ACWI Index. We used existing best-in-class selection-based index methodologies (the MSCI ESG Leaders Index) for the creation of hypothetical global and...

    Foundations of ESG Investing – Part 1: How ESG Affects Equity Valuation, Risk and Performance

    Report | Nov 29, 2017 | Dimitris Melas , Laura Nishikawa , Linda-Eling Lee , Guido Giese , Zoltán Nagy

    Many studies have focused on the relationship between companies with strong ESG characteristics and corporate financial performance.  However, these have often struggled to show that positive correlations — when produced — can in fact explain the behavior. This paper provides a  link between ESG information and the valuation and performance of companies, both through their systematic risk profile (lower costs of capital and higher valuations) and their idiosyncratic risk profile...

    Pursuing ESG Standards and Diversification

    Blog | Jul 26, 2017 | Laura Nishikawa

    Many of the world’s largest institutional investors are integrating ESG standards into their investment strategies. But they face a challenge: Excluding every objectionable firm or selecting only ESG (environmental, social and governance) leaders can slash the number of acceptable stocks by half while foreclosing on opportunities for dialogue and engagement. How can institutions implement ESG principles without sacrificing diversification or abandoning efforts to improve corporate conduct?

    Keep it Broad: An Approach to ESG Strategic Tilting

    Report | Feb 10, 2017 | Kumar Neeraj , Véronique Menou , Stuart Doole , Laura Nishikawa

    HOW CAN UNIVERSAL OWNERS INTEGRATE ESG PRINCIPLES WHILE MAINTAINING A BROAD AND DIVERSIFIED INVESTMENT UNIVERSE? Institutional investors are increasingly looking for ways to integrate ESG considerations into their investment decisions. By doing so, they may aim to mitigate long-term risks, generate higher risk-adjusted performance and/or align investments with broader societal objectives. As ESG investment guidelines become more commonplace among asset owners, and as many continue to build...

    How to Integrate ESG Without Sacrificing Diversification

    Blog | Feb 6, 2017 | Laura Nishikawa

    As institutional equity investors increasingly think about the long term, they may adjust their portfolios to accommodate environmental, social and governance (ESG) concerns in their investment decision-making processes. That can be particularly challenging for the largest investors, such as pension funds and endowments, whose portfolios span the entire equity market.

    Toward Sustainable Impact Through Public Markets

    Report | Apr 11, 2016 | Laura Nishikawa , Véronique Menou

    Institutional investors are increasingly looking for ways to steer capital toward companies and projects that provide solutions to major social and environmental challenges, but achieving impact at scale can be a challenging proposition. The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) provide a useful foundation for scalable impact, representing a broad consensus of global stakeholders around 17 ambitious development goals. The new Sustainable Impact framework and accompanying data...

    Incorporating Sustainable Impact in your Investment Process

    Blog | Apr 11, 2016 | Laura Nishikawa

    Institutional investors increasingly are looking for ways to steer capital toward companies that help to address major social and environmental challenges.

    Fund Transparency: Exploring the ESG Quality of Fund Holdings

    Report | Mar 8, 2016 | Laura Nishikawa , Ken Frankel , Matt Moscardi

    To solve for the next generation of investors’ demands for greater transparency around the ESG characteristics of their investments, MSCI ESG Research is introducing the concept of ESG Quality with the calculation of a Fund ESG Quality Score across over 21,000 mutual funds and ETFs. Funds with higher scores are comprised of companies managing their ESG risks relative to industry peers.

    Fund Transparency: Exploring the ESG Quality of Fund Holdings - Excerpt

    Report | Mar 8, 2016 | Laura Nishikawa , Ken Frankel , Matt Moscardi

    To solve for the next generation of investors’ demands for greater transparency around the ESG characteristics of their investments, MSCI ESG Research is introducing the concept of ESG Quality with the calculation of a Fund ESG Quality Score across over 21,000 mutual funds and ETFs. Funds with higher scores are comprised of companies managing their ESG risks relative to industry peers.

    2016 ESG Trends to Watch

    Report | Jan 11, 2016 | Ric Marshall , Matt Moscardi , Laura Nishikawa

    In our annual trends report, we highlight the key environmental, social and governance (ESG) trends that are top of mind for investors going into the New Year. In 2016, these trends reflect a softening economy, a long-term shift to a low carbon economy, a generational changeover and institutional forces.   Download the Research Spotlight "2016 ESG Trends to Watch." To read data from other years, please see our ESG Trends page.

    Implications of COP21: How do Corporate Carbon Reduction Targets Stack up?

    Report | Dec 15, 2015 | Manish Shakdwipee , Laura Nishikawa

    The climate deal struck in Paris set an ambitious goal of limiting the temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius, with a stretch goal of 1.5 degrees. While the key elements of legally binding country emission reduction targets appeared to be missing, countries agreed to submit five-year updates to their emissions reduction pledges and to establish a framework for monitoring, measuring and verifying emissions reductions.

    Carbon Footprinting 101 - A Practical Guide to Understanding and Applying Carbon Metrics

    Report | Sep 25, 2015 | Ken Frankel , Laura Nishikawa

    Assessing the carbon footprint of a portfolio is the first step in addressing the investment implications of climate change. Carbon footprinting sets a baseline to inform future actions, which can range from reporting and engagement to decarbonization and integrated risk management.

    ESG Trends to Watch for 2015

    Blog | Mar 26, 2015 | Laura Nishikawa

    We head into the new year with the backdrop of swooning oil prices and (re)newed geopolitical fault‐lines, juxtaposed against a return to growth in the US and emergence of the next generation of tech darlings.