A popular trend in investing is the aligning of one’s social and environmental views with the company’s that they invest in. Essentially doing as the age-old idiom states, “putting your money where your mouth is.” Holding stock in a company is taking part in the company’s ownership, it makes sense that in being an owner you would like to feel good about what your company’s impact on the world is.
This practice, commonly referred to as socially responsible investing, has existed for a long time to the effect that investors would exclude certain industries or products, such as alcohol, gambling, and tobacco, from their portfolios. Some investors view these areas as evil or harmful and do not want to participate in the ownership of a company that manufactures, distributes, or promotes them.
In recent years, however, we have seen this idea expanded beyond simply excluding specific areas but more to search out environmental, social, and/or corporate governance practices that the investor wishes to support, known as ESG investing. Environmentally, investors are usually looking at a company’s waste, pollution, energy use, and treatment of animals. Socially responsible companies are typically seen as those that donate significantly to charities, encourages employees to volunteer, and treats employees and customers well in regards to health and safety. Corporate governance criteria can cover a wide range of areas such as having transparent accounting, various political affiliations, and/or evidence of having women and minorities participate on the board and executive positions.
Needless to say, socially responsible investing can cover a very broad set of criteria and beauty is often in the eye of the beholder on which areas an investor wishes to focus on. Some companies can shine when looking at their social impact but when you look at their environmental impact it is not so pretty. The good news is, with the growing popularity of these investments it has become much easier to locate and participate in funds that suit what any socially responsible investor is looking for.
ESG and socially responsible investing can help support the positive change you wish to see in the world, but can they help support positive returns in your portfolio? A recent Morningstar article published in March of 2019 explains that 73% of Morningstar’s 56 ESG indexes have actually outperformed their non-ESG equivalents since inception1.
Past returns are by no means indication of future results but this does show that you may not have to sacrifice your morals in order to make money. If you would like to learn more about how to align your views on the environment, society, or corporate governance to your investment portfolio feel free to reach out to us here at Virtus Wealth Management as we have access and information on a wide variety of different ESG funds.
Content in this material is for general information only and not intended to provide specific advice for any individual. All performance referenced is historical and is no guarantee of future results. All indices are unmanaged and may not be invested into directly.