Desk with laptop, green plant and arm holding a coffee title Socially Responsible Investing

SRI

Socially responsible investing is one of several similar approaches and concepts that impact how asset managers invest, in a socially responsible way. SRI’s have been around for over 30 years in one form or another, and take the desire to make money and use it to create a better world. Companies which generate positive, measurable social and environmental change alongside a financial return. Keep in mind that it is a developing niche and therefore not without hiccups.

What is socially responsible investing?

Finding the right investments are the challenge. You can start by avoiding groups which exhibit social ill effects such as firearms, alcohol, tobacco, gambling and pornography. Fund managers and investment professionals look at a company’s governance factors, environmental and other social concerns in order to determine worthiness. Otherwise known as ESG.

The term socially responsible investing is also used more widely in addition to proactive practices like community investing and impact investing. The rating of companies is usually focused around assessing ESG risks. The challenge is that there is no standardization for measuring environmental, social and governance issues. Establishing the right investment process which take into account climate change and governance factors your investment approach for healthy financial returns will be an ongoing process.

ESG for Investment Professionals

The Morgan Stanley Institution for Sustainable Investing found that businesses with good ratings for either ESG factors of CSR have a lower cost of capital in terms of debt and bonds compared to businesses without strong ESG factors. With that, sustainable investing is now being embraced by entire industries around the world. Keep in mind that determining corporate responsibility for certain companies is still at the discretion of individual investors. Whereas, investment professionals who offer portfolios for sustainable investing will also need to be properly vetted for socially responsible investing.

Investment managers know that financial returns are dependant on their SRI fund and its ability to deliver a positive return. New processes are rapidly emerging and guiding the direction of social responsibility, but not without growing pains. A sustainable portfolio could include renewable energy or affordable housing. At the same time, nuclear power development reduces the environmental impact alongside the energy sector and fossil fuel companies, but does it qualify as responsible investing? It all depends on your individual investment strategy, your experience and your vision of the larger picture.

Socially conscious investment is more viable and profitable than ever…

Demand for Ethical Investments

Socially conscious investment is more viable and profitable than ever and hopefully, will continue to evolve. Stats tell us that 85% of investors are looking for sustainable solutions, because they know that there is more money to be made in saving the world than there is in keeping it the same. Even options for SRI investors have increased. SRI research says it can be much more lucrative than traditional investing. For 2019 they found 303 mutual fund and exchange trading funds, compared to 116 units in the same period the year before. SRI has increasingly gained in popularity making it a rapidly growing sector.

Review Socially Responsible Investment (SRI)

There are grey areas when it come to SRI’s. For instance, would a liquor producer who employs local workers in an economically challenged geographical area qualify as a socially conscious investment? You have to choose. And that is where “caveat emptor”, or “buyer beware” enters the narrative of investment strategies. Sustainable funds vary widely, so you will need to do the legwork.

Investors should thoroughly review the prospectus of all companies and investors offering socially responsible investing. It is the buyer’s duty to understand the exact philosophies adopted and applied. Mutual funds and ETFs provide an additional advantage with the possibility to gain multiple companies within a single sector within a single investment. This has been a strategy of many pension funds. An investor must still evaluate the financial outlook of the investment while trying to quantify the value of its social impact and financial gain. Just because an investment promotes itself as responsible investing, does not guarantee that that investors will get a good return.

Some companies claim that 80 per cent of their study evidenced that sustainability practices have a positive influence on investment performance. There are also claims that SRI mutual funds performance, compared to conventional mutual funds often perform comparatively better. Additionally there is evidence that SRI funds may be more stable than traditional funds. Others claim that socially responsible investing is more about the investments you don’t choose than about the ones you do choose. Nonetheless, it is an emerging field which is growing rapidly from it’s infancy, and therefore not without potential problems.

The interior of an abandonned building repsenting the state of the world that we live in without sustainable ESG investing

Impact investing

Impact investments have different ranges of return based on strategy based on the investors objectives. Examples include microfinance, accessible housing, healthcare educational services renewable and more. Impact investing is money made in companies, organizations and funds with the ambition of producing social and environmental impact with a financial return. Some impact investments may also qualify by theme, such as those which.

Integration of ESG

Integrating issues of ESG is the traditional way to incorporate issues relating ESG. A portfolio manager combines data from the ESGs with conventional financial metrics for the valuation of a company.

By gaining the power of shareholder power corporations control behavior in this way indirectly. Providing shareholder resolutions vote proxies and engagement with companies to improve ESG performance. ESG topics like those of women in leadership, clean technology alternative energy cybersecurity etc. etc.

By 2050 the world will be affected in part by water scarcity – up 6% of GDP. CEOs received more earnings and bonuses than the average worker. Women hold only 14% of boards in Canada. Approximately 40% of boards are all-male. More women board chairs are attractive to financial measures of how they perform. These include returns on equity, returns on sales and stock price growth. To resolve concerns about CEO’s pay, responsible investors advocate for companies to adopt policies that allow shareholders to vote’ on pay’ on executive compensation.

Impact investments are a more assertive form of socially accountable investment.

What is impact investing?

Impact investments are a more assertive form of socially accountable investment. As of end of fiscal 2017 cashflow grew to $14.75 bn. The Responsible Investment Associations report on Canadian impact investment trends revealed that assets under management reached $14-Billion in the same period. The. Impact Investment goes beyond the elimination of companies who may have questionable business practices. It seeks out companies with established intentions to generate positive, measured social and environmental. This trend is on the verge of playing a bigger role within the years ahead.

Research individual holdings

As early as possible ethical investing was often founded from religious principles. They centered themselves to exclude sin industries such as smoking, alcohol and porn. Recent approaches tend to emphasize a different range of issues from climate change to diversity in top management. Aims in addition reward companies whose behavior has improved rather than excluding sectors. All we need is looking at each fund’s accumulated stocks which can usually be found at the site of the ETF.

What makes an investment responsible?

One in four ETFs and 15 percent of most mutual funds are based in at least one publicly traded company in the firearms sector. A group urging asset managers to sell American Outdoor Brands Corp. and Sturm Ruger and Co. Most of them target civilians (rather than the forces of the military or armed forces) – most of – the guns are directed at civilians. Sustainability: There is no one size for all definition but a company can look for a positive impact on a positive environment, human rights and social justice.

Is your portfolio aligned with your ethical principles?

In the past few years, the development of ethically sensitive funds has taken off. They identify groups and firms running the gamut from fossil fuels to tobacco, gambling and landmines. When one wants to go beyond merely avoiding companies that fall afoul of your moral beliefs, one investor recommends ETFs and stocks. Similarly they could advise investors to consult with their advisor on the specific industries and businesses of the respective mutual fund.

About 25-30 per cent of WealthSimple’s clients currently have a SRI portfolio. SRI clients are quite skewed – their average age is slightly younger than the entire average age of 33 – years. In other words investors seem to be slightly more self-aware. He says people whose social portfolio is superior to that of a traditional routine portfolio are good drivers of behaviour in the stock market downturn.

What is environmental social and governance investment?

79 per cent of CFAs have used ESG strategies based on the Un’s Principles of Investing criteria in 2019. The number of people who “significantly” depend on ESG factors rose five percentage points to 26 per cent from 2018. ESG is not a formal definition but the general framework involves the following: promoting environmental sustainability and reducing one’s emissions of greenhouse gasses; promoting social justice and responding to concerns of local communities. Research by RBC about Responsible Investment.

Labels aren’t Everything

An ESG Rating provides a precise way to determine a company’s environmental social, moral and environmental skills. In reality the result is mixed. A company whose pollution history has been awful may also possess excellent gender representation records. The Bottom line: The ESG designation alone does not speak about the particular fund.

Caveats and Disclaimers

We have covered many topics in this article and want to be clear that any reference to, or mention of responsible investment, financial returns or investments in the context of this article is purely for informational purposes and not to be misconstrued with investment advice or personal opinion. Thank you for reading.