Socially responsible investing (SRI), which gives investors the opportunity to put their money where their core beliefs are, is an increasingly popular avenue for individuals who want to support and promote social good while achieving a good financial return on their investment.
Forty-three percent of investors with a net worth of $100,000 and $1 million (not including primary residence) consider a company’s corporate responsibility and societal concerns as an investment factor. This is up slightly from 2010. Socially responsible investing is a greater priority for younger investors ages 54 and under with nearly half (48 percent) considering it as an investment factor versus 36 percent of investors ages 65 and up. While this age group is the least likely to consider the social responsibility of their investments, this number, too, is up from last year.
The Wall Street Journal recently reported there was roughly $100 billion invested in SRI funds, a fraction of the $7 trillion invested in all stock mutual funds and ETFs as of the end of February, according to fund researcher Strategic Insight. The number of SRI funds in the United States grew to 250 in 2010, up from 55 in 1995, according to the Social Investment Forum. It also estimates that SRI comprises $3.07 trillion.
Between the end of 2006 and the end of 2009, the period covered in the SIF’s most recent survey to measure the assets engaged in sustainable and socially responsible investment practices, assets engaged in SRI increased 13 percent while overall professional managed assets remained roughly flat at $25 trillion.
“Socially responsible and sustainable investing emerged from the recent financial crisis doing better than the overall market in terms of holding onto assets and attracting new investments,” said Mary Vorhes, SIF deputy director and research director in an email to MillionaireCorner.com. “What is significant about this growth is that it encompasses both retail investors, including SRI mutual funds, and institutional investors, who hold the majority of SRI investments. We have also seen robust expansion of the strategies of shareholder advocacy and community investing. All of these developments show that the key principles of socially responsible and sustainable investing are being more widely embraced.”
SRI may still suffer from a perception problem, WSJ said, with investors under the impression that these funds are too restrictive and thus less profitable. But while investors with a heart toward social responsibility may want to steer clear of, say, tobacco companies or big oil, they may choose to invest in companies that are making an effort to improve in some areas while still be considered lacking in others of concern. Business Insider cites Wal-Mart, whose labor policies remain controversial, but who has also taken a leading role in reducing waste. PepsiCo, too, sells unhealthy sodas and snacks, but of late has been pushing for healthier snacks.