Jimmy Patronis Issues Directive Stopping ESG Fund Participation for State Retirement Program

This week, Florida Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Jimmy Patronis issued a directive barring asset managers within Florida’s deferred compensation program from investing participants’ compensation in financial products associated with Environmental, Societal and Governance (ESG) standards.

The Florida Deferred Compensation Plan is the supplemental retirement plan for employees of the State of Florida. Participants may defer a portion of their income, through a payroll deduction each pay period, to be invested and sheltered from taxation until withdrawn after separation of service. More than 93,000 state of Florida employees are enrolled in deferred compensation with total assets equaling $5.1 billion.

“The state of Florida has taken a hard stand that ESG is undemocratic, it constrains companies’ ability to pursue the best returns possible, and many of its values run counter to the values of everyday Floridians. As ESG has gone unchecked throughout the financial services sector for too many years, fiduciaries who believe ESG is bad for returns need to take steps in redirecting dollars away from these funds, and into ones that are more focused on the bottom line. We’ve been boiled like a frog for too long, and it’s time to hop out of the pot,” Patronis said.

“That’s why today I directed that asset managers involved with Florida’s Deferred Compensation program may not unilaterally direct participants’ cash into funds associated with ESG standards. As most funds have created ESG products over the years to appeal to the far Left, and as many investment options within the Deferred Compensation program included blended options, where participant’s compensation is spread among the full universe of financial products offered by fund managers, we need those fund managers to reprogram those allocations,” he added.

“No doubt, many participants are just trying to save a little more for retirement and have no idea that some of their compensation may be routed to funds that are more focused on left wing politics than returns. Moreover, as we continue shedding light on the impacts of ESG on the American economy, asset managers from Ivy League schools are smart enough to begin rebranding their products from ESG to other buzz-words that make their liberal friends feel good. Therefore, we’ve placed the burden on these fund managers to move these dollars – and if they don’t – than they’re in violation of our contracts and we’ll move on to someone else,” Patronis concluded.

The Department of Financial Services is engaging with specific fund managers on potential ESG products for removal from the Deferred Compensation program including the Neurberger Berman Sustainable Equity Fund (Nationwide), the VALIC Company I Socially Responsible Fund (Corebridge) and the Vanguard FTSE Social Index (Voya) Fund. These funds combined contain less than 1 percent of total assets in the Deferred Compensation program.

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