If you want your investment dollars to not only make money but to make the world a better place as well, there are now some new and easy ways to make that happen. More than one out of every four dollars under professional management in the United States — $8 trillion or more, and an estimated $70 trillion globally — is invested according to strategies that incorporate environmental, social and corporate governance criteria, according to Morningstar.
Numerous academic studies have shown there is no additional risk when investing using ESG screens — that is, those that consider environmental, social and corporate governance factors. Nor is there a measurable impact, either positive or negative, on investment returns — except for the unquantifiable benefit of believing your investment dollars are helping make the world a better place.
The easiest way for American investors to participate in this trend is through exchange trade funds (ETFs) that specialize in various forms of socially responsible investing. Those funds may include stocks, bonds, cause-specific securities or a mixture of these. As well, there are traditional managed mutual funds that have adopted ESG criteria. Morningstar even has an investment tool to evaluate funds based on sustainability criteria.
The cost of investing using ESG principles is no more than a standard mutual fund or ETF. Vanguard, which has four ETFs concentrating on socially responsible investment screening, is launching its first actively managed fund in this space, the Global ESG Select Stock Fund, this spring.
A new approach to socially responsible investing
Newday Investing is taking aim at the ESG market using a different investment approach. It has created an app that allows individuals to customize their investing goals based on interest in several impact portfolios, including ocean health, global impact, fresh water, animal welfare, gender equality and climate action.
Using their app, you create access a risk-profiled account where you can start investing for as little as $5 a month to build an investment account or a traditional or Roth IRA. You can choose one or more causes to be included in your investment portfolio. Each “cause” has a separately managed portfolio. And the portfolio managers vote the proxies to support shareholder resolutions in favor of good causes.
But the Newday app goes beyond just investments. The social side of Newday Investing is to actually support the issue itself. When you invest, 5 percent of the minimal account fees will go to support NGOs (nongovernmental organizations) working to help that specific cause.
Newday aims to build a community around these causes, posting the latest research and news so that participants will become informed and involved, as well as invested, says Doug Heske, CEO of Newday Financial. Looking ahead, Newday envisions a savings and checking account platform through an FDIC bank. Heske calls it a teachable moment and an opportunity to collaborate with good organizations to build a bridge to a “parallel and sustainable world.”
On a practical basis, the user-friendly app makes it easy to open and account and customize your choices. You can download the Newday Impact Investing app directly, or follow the link at NewdayImpact.com. Then you can browse information about the various causes.
But it’s not one-size-fits-all. You’ll be guided through a short risk analysis, to determine the mix of equities and bonds in your portfolio. (The world is awash in “green bonds” — used to fund environmental projects.) You’ll be asked a few personal questions about your job status, stage in life, age — and your goals. Those goals range from simply making an impact to saving for retirement, college or a home. The ultimate portfolio ranges from conservative to aggressive.
From there, it’s simple to open your account and link your bank account, to set up regular contributions. The portfolios are priced once daily, and there is complete liquidity: you can take your money out by moving it back to your bank account.
Doing good has never been so easy, or potentially profitable. And that’s The Savage Truth.