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What is socially responsible investing?

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People and businesses around the world are encouraged more so than ever to do the right thing. This includes things like: being environmentally conscious (recycling, sustainability), being fair to workers (human rights, anti-corruption, equal pay), being green-leaders (low carbon footprint, clean-technology innovators), and many others.

As consumers, we love it. It feels great to support businesses that align with our own beliefs, it’s easy to get behind them.

It simply just feels good.

It’s been a long time coming, but environmental concerns and movements are finally getting the publicity and support they need. It’s inspiring, and I think it makes us all want to do a little more than we already are. We want to be a part of the movement. We want to do what we can to make a positive impact.

What is Socially Responsible Investing?

When we invest, we are buying a small portion of a company. Because we own a small portion of a company, we share in its performance. Sometimes though, we are unknowingly investing in companies we do not necessarily support. Companies that don’t align with our beliefs.

Socially Responsible Investing (SRI) doesn’t just invest in any companies to provide value to its investors. SRI’s have strict standards. Some of the standards SRI’s use are:

  • lowers carbon exposure than comparable companies;
  • companies that prioritize environmental and social issues;
  • positive track record regarding human rights and corruption;
  • clean-technology innovators;
  • and companies with excellent ratings.

Why are SRI’s important?

SRI’s combine the best investment options when it comes to sustainability and supporting companies that do their part (or more) to help the planet.

By investing in SRI’s, you can rest easy knowing you’re supporting companies that align with your own beliefs. A lot of companies and consumers will even pay more for better resourced products (like: organic cotton, fair-trade coffee, renewable energy alternatives). But you don’t have to sacrifice for SRI’s. They can be very efficient and produce great returns. If you’re already paying high fees, a low fee SRI index could outperform your current portfolio.

You can invest towards your financial future, while investing in your planet’s future. This is not only important for future generations, but also our own.

Something a lot of people look forward to in retirement is travelling the world and enjoying everything you couldn’t while you were working. What places would you like to travel to when you retire? Climate change puts a lot of destinations at jeopardy because of temperatures changes, rising sea levels, and destruction of environments. If we don’t make more effort to protect our world, what will be left to when you’re ready to retire?

What can you do as an individual?

Not everyone can afford to donate to causes they support, or have the flexibility to take time off work to go to an event to have their voice heard. The great thing about SRI’s is how easy they are.

We all have to save for retirement, we all have to investment (if you need help getting started, click here). You have to save money and invest it for your future, so why just invest in anything? You’re already investing, so invest in things you care about.

As an individual you can help support causes and companies by ensuring your investments reflect your beliefs. All you have to do is: ask your current Financial Advisor what their SRI options are, or make a switch to something like Wealthsimple’s SRI’s (click here). Once it’s set up, you’re automatically helping the planet every day, without having to do anything. A little bit of initiative goes a long way.

You don’t have to cough up extra money for donations, or the time you may not have. It’s really an easy, basically no time-commitment way to have your voice heard.

What can you do as a business?

At your business you may have: a low-flush toilet, energy efficient lights, a paperless set up, or a number of environmentally friendly alternatives. I’d bet that your green initiatives are one of your clients favourite reasons to support your business. They are small things you do to make a positive impact in the world you live in.

If your company is just you, you manage a few employees, or your employ dozens of employees, there’s retirement savings in there somewhere. Imagine to go along with all of the green initiatives you take, you add that you and your employees fund your retirements through SRI’s.

With group plans it can be tough to get employees involved. Sometimes they don’t see the benefit, or they think they don’t have to worry about yet. Being able to put your employees in a position to save for their retirement while supporting companies that are doing more to protect their planet can be that needed nudge in the right direction.

Who should consider an SRI portfolio?

Socially Responsible Investments aren’t for everyone, and that’s okay. But 1/4 of Wealthsimple clients have chosen an SRI portfolio, and worldwide over $22 Trillion dollars are in SRI funds. It’s a growing movement and I’d expect that to continue with more environmental issues coming to light, and more people wanting to do more.

I think anyone should seriously consider an SRI portfolio. We all want to ensure we have great futures on a beautiful planet, and leave lots behind for future generations, and our future selves. Investing in companies that are doing what they can to create a more environmentally friendly world is a great thing. So whatever your reason is, if an SRI portfolio sounds like something you’re interested in, look into it!

Disclaimer: The information in this article is not intended to encourage any lifestyle changes without careful consideration and consultation with a qualified professional. This article is for reference purposes only, is generic in nature, is not intended as individual advice and is not financial or legal advice.

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About the Author

Derek Condon
Derek Condon
Winnipeg based Advisor hoping to help people with their finances, no matter the situation.

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