DFA US Micro Cap Portfolio is likely to concern sustainability-focused investors given certain substandard ESG attributes.
This fund has above-average exposure to ESG risk relative to its peers in the US Equity Small Cap category, earning it the second-lowest Morningstar Sustainability Rating of 2 globes. Investors concerned about ESG risk may be better off with funds earning 4 or 5 globes, as they tend to hold securities less exposed to ESG risk. ESG risk measures the degree to which material environmental, social, and governance issues, such as climate change and inequalities, could affect valuations. ESG risk differs from impact, which is about driving positive environmental and social outcomes for society’s benefit.
One potential issue for a sustainability-focused investor is that DFA US Micro Cap Portfolio doesn’t have an ESG-focused mandate. Funds with an ESG-focused mandate are more likely to align with the expectations of an investor who cares about sustainability issues. Currently, the fund has 7.80% involvement in fossil fuels, which is higher than 6.75% for the average peer in its category. Companies are considered involved in fossil fuels if they derive some revenue from thermal coal, oil, and gas.
The fund exhibits negligible exposure (0.02%) to companies with high or severe controversies. From bribery and corruption to workplace discrimination and environmental incidents, controversies can have significant financial repercussions, ranging from legal penalties to consumer boycotts. In addition, controversies can damage the reputation of both companies themselves and their shareholders.
DFA US Micro Cap Portfolio has an asset-weighted Carbon Risk Score of 13.69. This is situated at the lower end of the medium carbon risk band, suggesting that its current equity and/or bond holdings are moderately positioned to transition to a low-carbon economy. Investors concerned about the transition risks may prefer to consider funds with negligible or low carbon risk. Such funds invest in companies that tend to operate in sectors less exposed to the transition (such as healthcare and IT) and/or companies in more carbon-intensive sectors (such as industrials and utilities) but that consider climate change in their business strategy and products, and therefore are positively aligned with the transition.