Making a Difference with your Investments

4 Nov

Socially Responsible Investing

With the current focus on sustainable growth, carbon taxes, climate change and corporate responsibility, many small investors ask themselves how they can make a difference. One way to do this is to invest in mutual funds which select companies they have determined to be not only good investments but also corporate leaders in sustainable and ethical practices.

Socially Responsible Investing
Photo Source: Wikipedia

One such company is NEI Investments where one of their specialties is Socially Responsible Investing. According to Jacqueline Tung of NEI “Every year, we work with 50 companies that we are shareholders in with issues regarding their environmental, social and governance practices. To keep investors updated, we published quarterly updates on our progress with these companies. We want to make money and make a difference.”

While an individual investor likely does not have a strong voice with a multinational corporation to promote sustainability and good governance, a large mutual fund representing many investors has a seat at the table. A company like NEI is a large shareholder and thus is able to provide constructive criticism to companies, vote on policies promoting sustainability and good governance, and respond to the companies’ requests for investor perspectives on sustainability initiatives and reporting.

Looking at the Focus List Strategic Dialogues 2016 published by NEI, you will see that they are engaged with companies in the sectors ranging from Energy and Utilities to Consumer Products, Health Care and Finance, to name but a few.

Among the many themes NEI is tackling with these companies are:

  • Green House Gas Emissions
  • Climate Finance
  • Responsible water use
  • Respecting human rights
  • Cybersecurity governance
  • Food waste, animal welfare and access to nutrition
  • Responsible tax strategy

The Desjardins Group recently commissioned an online survey of 2,120 Canadians, which included 532 Ontarians. The survey revealed that Ontario investors care about six Responsible Investing principles: air quality, human rights, nature and forest conservation, workers’ rights, waste management, and climate change. According to the Responsible Investment Association’s 2015 Canadian RI Trends Report, RI in Canada grew by 68% from 2011 to 2013, surpassing $1 trillion in assets under management and accounting for 31% of the Canadian investment industry.

If you are concerned about ways to make your investments more effective in creating change, and choosing investments that are consistent with your overall values, contact me for a portfolio review at mheenan@assante.com or call 416-939-2000.

It’s just good advice.