Discovering Sustainable and Responsible Investing Opportunities
Nov 28, 2013 12:18AM
● By Bill Simpson
Investing often presents an ethical challenge for people that value healthy living, environmental sustainability, the welfare of workers, a strong local economy and similar values. Traditional investment products often involve industries or companies that socially and environmentally conscious investors do not want to support—such as those that engage in unfair labor practices, outsource jobs overseas or are notorious for contributing to pollution or producing unhealthy products
For people that care deeply about where their investment dollars go, sustainable and responsible investing (SRI)—a term often used interchangeably with socially responsible or green investing—is an alternative that has been growing in popularity steadily for decades. According to the Center for Sustainable Investment Education, SRI totaled $3.74 trillion in 2012. That’s about one out of every nine dollars under professional management in the United States—moving SRI into a position that could be called mainstream. As with all investment in the stock market, gains and losses are to be expected, and there are no guarantees. Yet, as corporations and institutional investors begin to consider environmental and social issues as part of their fiduciary responsibility, more and better options are appearing for individual investors, with most major banks offering some kind of SRI fund.
The impressive figures don’t mean that every financial advisor is familiar with or interested in this type of investing, however. Investors looking for a financial advisor to help them with SRI can ask about the background and knowledge of the advisors that they are considering.
“Socially responsible investing incorporates environmental, social and corporate governance criteria into the investment process so that investment assets not only earn a return, but also contribute to the greater good of society,” explains Jeff Guindon, a financial advisor and the director of research at Sherman Werst & Company, a local, independent company in Lancaster.
“I’ve always been interested in the way businesses impact society, for better or worse,” states Guindon, whose mission is to develop investment portfolios that fulfill his clients’ sense of social consciousness while meeting their financial goals. “I research this field thoroughly because I want my work to have a social impact. That extends to the desire for my practice to have a positive impact on the community,” he explains. “I belong to organizations such as the Susquehanna Sustainable Business Network and the Sierra Club, and support a number of local nonprofits by contributing a portion of my fees to them. Each of my clients may choose which organization receives that money. It allows us to truly partner together to have a positive social impact.”
“It’s a really exciting time to be offering socially responsible investments. The field has grown dramatically, and I’m always so happy to collaborate with my clients and help them invest in a way that supports their values,” affirms Guindon, adding that Sherman Werst & Company works on a fee basis, which means that clients pay a quarterly fee for the services, not an upfront commission.
“I am pleased to provide my clients the ability to invest their assets in a socially responsible manner. I also seek to manage my practice in a socially responsible manner. From operating a paperless office to donating a portion of my fees back into the community, I truly embrace the triple bottom line, people, planet and profit.”
Sherman, Werst and Company is located at 480 New Holland Ave., Ste. 6204, in Lancaster. For more information, call Guindon at 717-560-3616.
Bill Simpson is a writer based in Lancaster and a frequent contributor to Natural Awakenings magazine. Contact him at [email protected]
Securities and advisory services offered through Commonwealth Financial Network, Member FINRA/SIPC, a registered investment adviser. Investing in the stock market involves gains and losses and may not be suitable for all investors. The investment’s socially responsible focus may limit its available options and may result in returns lower than those not subject to such considerations.