Non-profit

Mercy Investment Services

Location:

St. Louis, MO

Division of:

Institute of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas

Mercy Investment Services is a faith-based liberal asset management program. The program is a division of the Institute of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas. It regularly presents shareholder resolutions to pressure various companies to adopt left-of-center policies on environmentalism and gun control.

Background

Mercy Investment Services is a division of the Institute of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas to steers people toward what it considers “socially responsible investing.” [1] Mercy Investment Services regularly uses the leverage of shareholders to pressure companies through shareholder resolutions.

Catherine McAuley and two other women in Dublin, Ireland, became the first Sisters of Mercy in 1831 in Dublin, Ireland. Now, the Catholic religious order has 9,000 members. The Institute of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas has more than 2,500 women working in the United States, Central and South America, Guam, Jamaica and the Philippines. [2]

In the early 1970s, the Mercy Consolidated Asset Management Program was established to “encourage more just business practices” among companies they invested in. In 1995, the management program was renamed the Mercy Investment Program. It incorporated the Alternative Investment Fund, and was renamed the Mercy Partnership Fund in 2003. Finally, in 2010, it became Mercy Investment Services. [3]

One division is the Mercy Partnership Fund, which provides below-market rate investments with more than 60 investors and has investments in 59 companies. The aim of the fund is to pressure companies to promote subsidized housing; financial inclusion; education, business, cooperative and nonprofit financing; community facilities; health care; healthy food; environmentalism; and environmentalist-aligned agriculture. [4] Mercy launched the Environmental Solutions Fund in 2015, focusing on various environmentalist priorities. [5]

Mercy issued a report in October 2019 warning in 2025 that two-thirds of the world’s population will face water scarcity. Mercy touts its shareholder engagements with numerous companies—such as Coca-Cola and Nestle—to show that investor movements are prompting companies to act. [6] The firm takes credit for the training of 730,000 truck drivers on human trafficking; casting more than 26,000 proxy votes on behalf of shareholders at company shareholder meetings; 43 shareholder resolutions filed and more than 600 commitments made to reducing carbon emissions. [7]

Shareholder Actions

Mercy Investment Services led the effort in February 2018 to pressure Dick’s Sporting Goods raise the minimum age from 18 to 21 to buy a gun, and it would stop selling certain semi-automatic rifles. Mercy had filed a shareholder resolution in December 2017. [8]

Mercy was successful in 2018 in getting the shareholders of gun maker Smith and Wesson’s parent company American Outdoor Brands to require the company to provide an accounting of how it monitors gun violence and how it could manufacture its firearms to be safer. The company CEO P. James Debney had urged shareholders to vote no on the resolution. Mercy cited the use of a Smith and Wesson gun at the Parkland, Florida school shooting, and demanded an accounting of violent events associated with S&W products, details on how to produce safer guns, and a risk assessment to corporation reputation and finances related to gun violence. [9]

Mercy Investment Services is involved with 152 separate companies and 213 different engagements that include dialogue and resolutions. [10]

Mercy teamed with Robeco Institutional Asset Management BV in 2017 to push the energy infrastructure company Kinder Morgan Inc. to start measuring and setting reduction targets for methane gas emissions across the company’s operations. [11]

Mercy is also part of the 53-member Investors for Opioid Accountability. The coalition includes labor unions, state pension funds and religious orders that control more than $3 trillion in assets of the nation’s leading drug distributors as corporate annual meeting season nears. [12]

Mercy also filed seven shareholder resolutions with publicly-traded private prison corporations GEO Group and CoreCivic. [13]

Mercy joined an effort to push Walgreens to stop selling tobacco in North American stores. [14]

Leadership

Bryan Pini is the president and chief investment officer of Mercy Investment Services. Thomas G. Schaefer is the vice president and chief operating officer. [15] Susan Smith Makos is the vice president of social responsibility. [16]

Cathy Rowan is the chairwoman of the Mercy Investment Services board of directors. [17]

References

  1. Welcome. Mercy Investment Services. Accessed November 9, 2019. https://www.mercyinvestmentservices.org/ ^
  2. Sisters of Mercy. Mercy Investment Services. Accessed November 9, 2019.  https://www.mercyinvestmentservices.org/sisters-of-mercy.aspx ^
  3. Impact Investing. Mercy Investment Services. Accessed November 9, 2019. https://www.mercyinvestmentservices.org/impact-investing.aspx ^
  4. Impact Investing. Mercy Investment Services. Accessed November 9, 2019. https://www.mercyinvestmentservices.org/impact-investing.aspx ^
  5. Impact Investing. Mercy Investment Services. Accessed November 9, 2019. https://www.mercyinvestmentservices.org/impact-investing.aspx ^
  6. Mercy Investment Services Release Fiscal 2019 Accountability Report. October 30, 2019. Accessed November 9, 2019. https://www.mercyinvestmentservices.org/accountability-report.aspx ^
  7. Our Impact- Shareholder Advocacy. Mercy Investment Services. Accessed November 9, 2019. https://www.mercyinvestmentservices.org/our-impact-%E2%80%93-shareholder-advocacy.aspx ^
  8. Mirchandani, Bhakti. “A Year After Parkland, How Churches Nationwide Are Using Big Investment Dollars to Drive Gun Safety.” Forbes. February 19, 2019. Accessed November 9, 2019. https://www.forbes.com/sites/bhaktimirchandani/2019/02/19/gunning-it-after-parkland-faith-based-investor-success-with-gun-safety-shareholder-resolutions/#4b356ceb1ceb ^
  9. [1] Kinney, Jim. “Springfield’s Legendary Gun Make Smith & Wesson Faces Future Controversy.” Springfield Business Journal. September 26, 2018. Accessed November 9, 2019. https://www.bizjournals.com/boston/news/2018/09/26/springfields-legendary-gun-maker-smith-wesson.html ^
  10. Shareholder Advocacy. Mercy Investment Services. Accessed November 9, 2019. https://www.mercyinvestmentservices.org/shareholder-advocacy.aspx ^
  11. “Small ESG Investors Punch Above Their Weight.” The Wall Street Journal. Accessed November 9, 2019. https://www.wsj.com/articles/small-esg-investors-punch-above-their-weight-11569204180 ^
  12. Sadowski, Dennis. Crux Now. “Shareholder Action Pushes Corporations to Address Key Social Issues.” February 23, 2019. Accessed November 9, 2019. https://cruxnow.com/church-in-the-usa/2019/02/23/shareholder-action-pushes-corporations-to-address-key-social-issues/ ^
  13. Young, Will. “Catholic Shareholder Activists Challenge Private Prison System.” Sojourners. May 6, 2019. Accessed November 9, 2019. https://sojo.net/articles/catholic-shareholder-activists-challenge-private-prison-system ^
  14. Al-Muslim, Alisha. “Walgreens Not Quitting Cigarette Sales Cold Turkey.” Market Watch. March 31, 2019. Accessed November 9, 2019. https://www.marketwatch.com/story/walgreens-not-quitting-cigarette-sales-cold-turkey-2019-03-31 ^
  15. Staff. Mercy Investment Services. Accessed November 9, 2019. https://www.mercyinvestmentservices.org/staff.aspx ^
  16. Staff. Mercy Investment Services. Accessed November 9, 2019. https://www.mercyinvestmentservices.org/staff.aspx ^
  17. Board of Directors. Mercy Investment Services. Accessed November 9, 2019. https://www.mercyinvestmentservices.org/board-of-directors.aspx ^
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Mercy Investment Services

2039 North Geyer Road
St. Louis, MO 63131