Opportunities for Ethical Investing
2015 Feb Marketwatch article: "Socially responsible investing is gaining major traction, thanks in part to the emergence in the U.S. of “impact investing,” a concept that started in the U.K." BUT: see subsequent Marketwatch article, whick warns that fund performance may not track index performance.
Some funds focus on divesting from or avoiding investing in companies that have negative social impacts, while impact investing focuses on encouraging positive impacts. Large institutional investors have been spurring the trend towad impact investing, which in turn has led to "a new focus on academics with seminars, professors and even programs churning out graduates who hope to pin their careers on the movement."
"Adding momentum to affect investing is the creation of the Sustainable Accounting Standards Board (SASB), which is starting to create key performance metrics, and features top leaders from Michael Bloomberg to former SEC Chair Mary Schapiro."
Consumers are increasingly looking for responsible investing opportunities and consequently opportunities are increasing. There are downsides to socially responsible investing, however, which are described in a video on the site. Some companies practice "greenwashing"--pretending to use more sustainable practices than they do, and adding social criteria to financial ones can limit the profits or increase the risks of losses from investments.
A strictly non-professional opinion by the author of responsibleconsumer.net: the best way I can think of to combine profit or savings and social responsibly investing is by ownership of real estate. You can rent residential (a house or rooms) or business property (a building or space in one) at a fair rate of return for yourself and fair rent for your tenant(s) and set your own rules. An intriguing possibility is the tiny/small house movement: tinyhouse.com, tinygreencabins.
Minimum purchase $500, term 3 years, rate .40 compounded monthly as of 2013 March 4. Supports Equal Exchange Coop's fair trade purchases and their small farmer partners. "All the money from the CDs is pooled together and made available to Equal Exchange as a low cost loan. Your CDs guarantee that loan. That means that there is a higher risk [see risks] than with a normal CD; if we default on the loan it's possible to lose some of the principal." Accounts are with Eastern Bank and FDIC insured against bank closure.
A good place to start understanding stock valuations, trades, find resources, choose a broker and manage accounts, and understand options: Online Investor Knowledge Center.
Green America Retirement Plan Options Guide includes a section entitiled "Where Do I Learn Socially Responsible Investing Basics?"
Robert A G Monks, in a Truthout opinion column, "Is Divesting Activism?" suggests that divesting is often only symbolic rather than effective in bringing about social change. He suggests shareholder activism as a more difficult, but sometimes more effective, alternative.
Green America Social Investing page links to various strategies. Green America's Responsible Shopper allows you to compare many companies and industries. Responsible Shopper also notes things companies have been criticised and praised for, such as environmental practices, sweatshop labor, community and labor relations, diversity in the workforce, and charitable contributions.
BBC news Science & Environment: scientists to discuss investing/divesting in fossil fuels
How To Invest Fossil-Free.
Students pressuring educational institutions to divest from fossil fuel holdings.
The Responsible Endowments Activist: Lauren Ressler.
Easy-to-read, concise, but very informative and persuasive presentation by Nancy Boardman on investing in companies that do not harm animals. Names Rocky Mountain Humane Investment Corporation, Cruelty Free Value Fund, and Humane Equity Fund as examples of cruelty-free mutual funds.
Site based in UK has sections for consumers on banking, investments and ISAs, pensions, insurance, mortgages, credit cards, student finance, and child trust funds
Good Money Home Page
Large site with many pages on ethical investing, consuming, and businesses. Information on social, environmental, and animal welfare issues.
Large site providing information, tools, and news for socially responsible investors. There are sections on mutual funds, community investing, and financial services (including brokers, financial planners, and money managers). On the financial services pages, there are search tools to find brokers and financial planners near you, and links to order a free Socially Responsible Investment (SRI) Mutual Funds Guide.
Responsible Investor: why short-term investing is hazardous to our social and financial health
This is one of several free articles in this newsletter by subscription. Disclaimer: Because most of the site is accessible by paid susbscription only, Responsible Consumer has not reviewed more than a sampling of the site. Some of it is hard to follow because of the heavy use of acronyms (such as ESG, which in this case stands for environmental, social, and governance). Much of it seems addressed to investing professionals rather than the general public. Nevertheless, the site seems to embrace important principles of social responsibility and to suggest ways in which investors can address these.