Some individuals believe that return on investment shouldn’t be the only criterion for how they invest their money. For them, the social impact of investing is just as important – perhaps more important.
The history of socially responsible investing stretches as far back as the mid-18th century, but its more-modern form began taking shape in the 1960s, amidst the fight for civil rights and the emerging Vietnam War protests.
More than $17 trillion is managed under sustainable and responsible investing principles. This includes mutual funds, endowments, and even venture capital funds. It should be noted that amounts in mutual funds are subject to fluctuation in value and market risk. Shares, when redeemed, may be worth more or less than their original cost. Mutual funds are sold only by prospectus. Please consider the charges, risks, expenses, and investment objectives carefully before investing. A prospectus containing this and other information about the investment company can be obtained from your financial professional. Read it carefully before you invest or send money.1
What Is “Socially Responsible Investing?”
The definition of socially responsible investing has evolved. And it may be referred to by different names, such as “sustainable and responsible investing” or “values-based investing.”
Whatever term is used, this investment discipline is usually characterized by a set of principles that govern how investments are selected. One widely used framework includes environmental, social, and corporate governance criteria (ESG).
ESG criteria of good corporate governance, positive environmental impact, and responsible community involvement are a guide for making investment selections, akin to other investment-related criteria, such as price-to-earnings ratio or revenue growth.
The underlying belief is that good corporate practices may lead to better long-term corporate performance.
Investor experience with socially responsible investing will vary. As with any mutual fund or exchange-traded fund, socially responsible investments are subject to fluctuation in value and market risk. Shares, when redeemed, may be worth more or less than their original cost.
Individuals should also recognize that each investment approach may operate under a different set of principles, so you should be careful that your selection mirrors your personal values and beliefs.
1. USSIF.org, 2020 (most recent data available)
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The returns on a portfolio consisting primarily of Environmental, Social and Governance (“ESG”) aware investments may be lower or higher than a portfolio that is more diversified or where decisions are based solely on investment considerations. Because ESG criteria exclude some investments, investors may not be able to take advantage of the same opportunities or market trends as investors that do not use such criteria.