We see it every day on TV, in the movies, at grocery stores…the United States is going green and people are beginning to take responsibility for how their actions impact our environment and society.
Just like you can now buy organic milk or corn flakes at the store, it is now possible to invest your money in mutual funds that are socially responsible. It is a market called Socially Responsible Investing (SRI). There are numerous mutual fund families that have specialty funds that may invest in energy alternatives such as solar power or won’t invest in big tobacco. The main focus on these funds are to focus on industries that are socially responsible to mankind and our environment.
What is Socially Responsible Investing?
Socially Responsible Investing (SRI) is an investment strategy that integrates social or environmental criteria into financial analysis which gives hope to a cleaner brighter future.
With about $2.29 trillion worth of assets in the country today, SRI is gaining steam with both institutions and individuals investors who are looking to:
- Align their investment portfolio with their individual core values. This is accomplished by ditching firms that fail to meet certain stringent standards – and instead investing in those that do.
- Help improve corporate environmental and social performance by putting your money behind companies that meet your core values.
- Pick companies with a brighter long-term financial future through the recognition of environmental and social factors that may effect their bottom line.SRI was originally practiced by religious investors who, almost 200 years ago, ditched companies that were involved in alcohol, tobacco, and gambling. In recent times, SRI has grown beyond avoidance to:
- Social Research – Mutual Fund companies before investing will examine firm’s environmental and social records to establish what businesses to include in their investment portfolios. Rapidly, social research is used as a way to “zero in” on companies with better management and lower risk.
- Shareholder Advocacy – As an shareholder you have the power to influence board members of companies by voting on issues or even doing something simple such as writing a letter to the CEO expressing your views.
- Social Venture Capital – pursue investment opportunities in startups that have demonstrated an ability to fulfill society’s needs in exchange for profitability. The best time to invest is before these startups are publicly traded. Venture capital helps startups secure the funds they need to grow, and usually returns healthy gains for the shareholders.
- Community Investing – Channeling affordable credit to communities underserved by traditional credit markets to create jobs, build homes, and finance community facilities. Investors often accept slightly below-market rates of return to encourage investment that can build or rebuild communities.
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