Climate change, diversity, environment, ESG, risk management, Socially Responsible Investing, SRI

What is Socially Responsible Investing?

I have recently had several people ask me about SRI. What is it? Why does it matter?

The first thing to understand is SRI means different things to different people. Several years ago I attended a gathering of advisors focused on sustainability at the Bloomberg headquarters in NYC. I talked to many of the 300 attendees and what I found was every single person had a different interpretation of what SRI meant.

Some focused on promoting clean energy, some focused on workers issues and inequality, some focused on climate change, some look to exclude alcohol and tobacco, others focused on micro lending. Each focus is unique and approaches the challenge of investing with different assumptions.

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Climate change, environment, ESG, health, new economy, Socially Responsible Investing, SRI, Taxes

Pending Meat Tax Could Change Economic Behavior

In the past year plant-based meat products have made real inroads into many popular restaurant chains. Many plant-based brands have developed models that make them cost competitive and flavor competitive with animal-based meat products.

Animal-based meats have been criticized on several levels. The role that CAFOs (concentrated animal farming operations) play in deforestation, methane release, pollution, and accelerating climate change. In addition, several recent studies have shown that meat products have many negative health consequences, including cancer. (1)

In a recent paper Fitch Solutions Macro Research found that meat could be the target of new consumption taxes, similar to sugar taxes to fight obesity that have proliferated over the past few years.

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Climate change, environment, ESG, new economy, retirement, risk management, Socially Responsible Investing, SRI

What Role Do Moral Values Play in Investment Selection?

As a financial advisor, I am constantly approached by mutual fund and ETF wholesalers who are selling their investment vehicles. Yesterday I was approached by a representative who offered a vehicle that invested and looked at company fundamentals in a way that I believe is important. Before we talked, I asked if these were funds that invest based on sustainable or ESG (environmental, social, and governance) criteria.

He said, “These funds rank very highly based on ESG ratings.” And when I looked at the Morningstar ratings, they did. However, when I dug deeper several red flags jumped out at me. First, nowhere on the fund prospectus do they mention using screening for sustainability or ESG concerns. The second red flag was when I looked at existing holdings… their top holding is one of the largest US oil companies.

This to me is non-negotiable.

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charitable giving, life insurance, Socially Responsible Investing, SRI

Creating Social Impact Through Giving

Every day millions are helped to improve their lives due to the generosity of others. As a community we each have a stake in the success of every individual, every family. Many organizations that make massive positive contributions are struggling due to cutbacks in government supports.

We as stakeholders in American society have a responsibility to give back and help those less fortunate. A recent example of this ethos:

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Climate change, economy, environment, ESG, retirement, risk management, Socially Responsible Investing, SRI

Divestment From Fossil Fuels Gathers Steam

As an investor in today’s economy, you have a say in what companies you invest in and support. By investing in a company, you are effectively voting with your dollars.

By the same token, as an investor you also have the right to purposefully refuse to invest in a specific company or industry. Perhaps you disagree with their business model or you oppose the negative impacts they are having on society. This act of withholding investment is at the core of “Divestment”.

Without access to capital markets, fossil fuel companies cannot finance their operations. As fewer buyers come in to buy shares of fossil fuel companies, the potential value of these companies decline.

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Climate change, environment, retirement, risk management, Socially Responsible Investing, SRI

How to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

People are becoming increasingly aware of the consequences of climate change. In October of 2018 the UN Panel on Climate Change stated we have 12 years to halt the growth of CO2 if we hope to avoid the worst possible consequences of global warming. (1) Yet following the shutdown of the global economy in 2020, the release of CO2 has accelerated. “In 2021 global energy-related CO2 emissions are projected to rebound and grow by 4.8% as demand for coal, oil and gas rebounds with the economy. The increase of over 1 500 Mt CO2 would be the largest single increase since the carbon-intensive economic recovery from the global financial crisis more than a decade ago, it leaves global emissions in 2021 around 400 Mt CO2, or 1.2%, below the 2019 peak.” (2)

Atmospheric CO2 in June 2021 stands at 418/ppm. In June 2020 the figure stood at 416/ppm. Ten years ago, in June 2011, the measure stood at 390/ppm. (3)

This awareness that the build-up of atmospheric CO2 is accelerating has led to many projects that are working to effect change. Greta Thunberg has raised the awareness of students and leaders to protest the inaction of adults on Climate. John Lui and others have organized eco-restoration camps to foster regenerative agriculture and to plant many more trees in degraded environments. Many foundations and pensions are pursuing divestment strategies from fossil fuel companies to reduce the capital available to produce carbon intensive projects. More people are turning to socially responsible investing as a way to have their own investments impact what the future will look like.

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Climate change, environment, ESG, Socially Responsible Investing, SRI

Greta Thunberg, David Hume, “State of Nature” and Climate Change

The climate crisis is worsening…

In a speech to the Austrian World Summit in June 2021, Greta Thunberg called out global leaders for their inaction. (1)

“During this time, more and more people around the world have woken up to the climate and ecological crisis, putting more and more pressure on you, the people in power. Eventually, the public pressure was too much and you had the world’s eyes on you. So you started to act…

Not acting as in taking climate action, but acting as in role playing, playing politics, playing with words and playing with our future, pretending to take responsibility, acting as saviors as you try to convince us that things are being taken care of.

Meanwhile the gap between your rhetoric and reality keeps growing wider and wider, and since the level of awareness is so low, you almost get away with it.”

Greta Thunberg raises a crucial issue that needs to be addressed for humanity to overcome the climate crisis…

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Climate change, economy, entrepreneurship, environment, ESG, life insurance, new economy, protection, retirement, risk management, Socially Responsible Investing, SRI

Embracing the Future: An Interview with Charlotte Markward

I met Charlotte and her Husband Randy years ago at a Green Drinks in Philadelphia. It was before the days of Tesla, widespread solar power and organic food sections at the grocery store. People got together to share a beer and dream about a future that would be more sustainable. Things have changed a great deal in the past few years.

Charlotte is a graphic designer based in Philadelphia. She has agreed to share some of her experiences and insights so that we all might have an easier path to financial security.

Charlotte has been interested in supporting socially responsible investing for many years. I asked her what it means to her. Charlotte said, “For one thing it’s smart. We have a finite amount of resources and we are running out of them. To continue doing things in the old ways is to set yourself up for failure. Green investment is where the growth will be.”

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diversity, economy, ESG, risk management, Socially Responsible Investing, SRI

Diversity Matters… Especially In Business

Even before the economic crisis wrought by the Coronavirus, the economy is changing at a rapid pace. Companies in many sectors that have been pillars of the economy have fallen on hard times. Companies that were leaders in industrial America have seen their market cap fall by 2/3rds in the past year. Leaders in retail have closed hundreds of stores and laid off thousands of people. Even technology companies that started off strong in the past 10 years have suffered setbacks in the past year due to corporate governance issues.

As technology advances, the challenge for businesses to stay competitive becomes amplified. In the last 3 years, advances in robotics and AI (Artificial Intelligence) have significantly added to the bottom line of companies. That pace of change seems to be accelerating.

A recent Mckinsey & Company report titled Delivering Through Diversity reinforces the business case for diversity. “The statistically significant correlation between a more diverse leadership team and financial outperformance demonstrated three years ago continues to hold true on an updated, enlarged, and global data set.” (1)

Learning how to deal with this change is a crucial issue for businesses.

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Climate change, economy, environment, health, new economy, retirement, risk management, Socially Responsible Investing

How Will COVID19 Potentially Affect the Climate Change Debate?

As the severity of the COVID19 pandemic became clear to leaders in China in early 2020, the CCP announced the quarantine of over 800 million people and effectively closed down the economy of China. One of the effects of this shutdown was a dramatic drop in carbon emissions and air pollution.

Paul Monks, professor of air pollution at the University of Leicester, predicted there will be important lessons to learn. “We are now, inadvertently, conducting the largest-scale experiment ever seen,” he said. “Are we looking at what we might see in the future if we can move to a low-carbon economy? Not to denigrate the loss of life, but this might give us some hope from something terrible. To see what can be achieved.” (1)

“What I think will come out of this is a realization – because we are forced to – that there is considerable potential to change working practices and lifestyles. This challenges us in the future to think, do we really need to drive our car there or burn fuel for that,” said Monk.

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