Aligning Your Investments with Your Heart

At Pathfinder Wealth Consulting, we counsel our clients that money is not an end in itself but is instead a means to achieve goals and to do good work. We are continuously humbled by the contributions of our client community to local nonprofits, their places of worship, or large-scale charitable organizations that are making a significant impact in our nation and beyond. We also know that the desire to give back is not insolated within our community of clients but is a common theme throughout the Greater Cape Fear region.

We know it feels good to align purchases with causes that are meaningful. Supporting farm to table restaurants, local artists, and “small” businesses are all ways we can make an impact in our community.

But what if you could do the same with your investments?

As the world continues to evolve, so does investor motivation; this has become more and more apparent through the emergence and popularity of sustainable investing. Did you know sustainable investing accounts for one-third of professionally managed assets in the United States?

The financial industry loves acronyms, and the world of impact investing is a prime example: Environmental, Social, & Corporate Governance (ESG), Socially Responsible Investing (SRI), Sustainable Investing, and Impact Investing are often used interchangeably to talk about a similar concept. In short, these terms are about aligning your investments with your social values.  

Impact investing is an investment strategy that may take the form of numerous asset classes and may result in many specific outcomes, but the point of impact investing is to use money and investment capital for positive social results in addition to financial gains.  A basic goal of impact investing is to help reduce the negative effects of business activity on the social environment. That is why impact investing may sometimes be considered an extension of philanthropy.

The practice of screening specific assets out of an investment strategy (called exclusionary or negative screening) was the pioneering strategy in the sustainable investing universe. In the beginning, socially responsible investing was primarily focused on eliminating investments in products that conflicted with personal belief systems or social, moral, or ethical values (for example weapons, alcohol, tobacco, or gambling). However, in more recent years, it has now evolved into an investing strategy that proactively makes investments in companies that are creating a positive impact (called positive or affirmative screening).

Environmental, social, and governance (ESG) criteria are a set of standards for a company’s operations that socially conscious investors use to screen potential investments. Environmental criteria consider how a company performs as a steward of nature (such as a company’s energy use and pollution, natural resource conservation, and treatment of animals). Social criteria look at the company’s business relationships (suppliers, community donations, volunteer work, health and safety regulations, etc.). With regard to governance, investors may want to know that a company uses accurate and transparent accounting methods and that stockholders are given an opportunity to vote on important issues.

But for those who think they need to keep philanthropy separate from investing, it is important to remember the all-important element of generating financial returns. Unlike traditional charitable giving, where you are simply giving money away (potentially with the benefit of tax credit), impact investing is still focused on generating returns – growth for your long-term future. Sounds like a win-win.

There was a time when the only way to “take a stand” with your investments was to sell out of the stock of a company you didn’t believe in, or to steer clear of industries that didn’t align with your values. But today, the universe of impact investing has opened doors to a plethora of opportunities to align your investments with your social values.

At Pathfinder, we are passionate about helping people reach financial independence. It is equally important to us that this goal is accomplished in a way that aligns with the heart of each of our clients. If you are curious about the world of investing with impact, please give us a call at 910.793.0616. We are here to guide you forward.

Investments are subject to risk, including the loss of principal.  Some investments are not suitable for all investors, and there is no guarantee that any investing goal will be met.  Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Talk to your financial advisor before making any investing decisions.