Globally, Sustainable Investment Strategies Winning Popular Vote

On March 27, 2017, the Global Sustainable Investment Alliance (GSIA) released its biennial Global Sustainable Investment Review 2016, showing that global sustainable investment assets reached $22.89 trillion at the start of 2016, a 25% increase from 2014.

Socially responsible investment (SRI) continues to grow as a favored set of investment strategies:

  • Europe accounts for 53% of these assets, the United States at 38%.
  • In nearly every market represented in the report, sustainable investing has grown in both absolute and relative terms since the beginning of 2014.
  • Environmental, social, and governance performance and/or criteria integration is being applied to $10.37 trillion in assets.
  • Growing global concern over climate change has resulted in rising interest in green finance, including climate-aligned bonds.
  • Fiduciary duty and client demand are key growth drivers for sustainable investing.

While institutional investors hold the largest percentage of SRI assets, with pension funds often comprising the largest percentage of institutional SRI assets, interest by individual and family investors is growing. The relative proportion of individual and family SRI investments in Canada, Europe, and the United States increased from 13% in 2014 to 26% at the start of 2016. Over a third of SRI assets in the United States were owned by individuals and families.

To download the full report click here.

About Global Sustainable Investment Review

Now in its third edition, the biennial Global Sustainable Investment Review is the only report presenting results from Europe, the United States, Canada, Asia, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand. The report draws on in-depth regional and national reports from GSIA members—Eurosif, Responsible Investment Association Australasia, RIA Canada, and US SIF—as well as data and insights from the Principles for Responsible Investment, JSIF (Japan), LatinSIF, and the African Investing for Impact Barometer. Together, these resources provide data points, insights, analysis, and examples of the shape of sustainable investing worldwide.

About Global Sustainable Investment Alliance

The Global Sustainable Investment Alliance (GSIA) is a collaboration of membership-based sustainable investment organizations around the world. It includes US SIF, UK SIF, Eurosif, RIA Canada, VBDO (Netherlands), and the Responsible Investment Association Australasia (RIAA). The GSIA’s mission is to deepen and expand the practice of sustainable, responsible, and impact investing through intentional international collaboration. Our vision is a world where sustainable investment is integrated into financial systems and the investment chain and where all regions of the world have coverage by vigorous membership based institutions that represent and advance the sustainable investment community. www.gsi-alliance.org

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Natural Investments’ 2016 Social Impact Report

Our commitment to positive change is reflected in our advocacy, how we operate the company, and the 1% of gross revenue that we donate to worthwhile local and national charitable organizations. Our commitment to evolving corporate behavior revolves around our shareholder advocacy efforts, while our passion for protecting citizens from harm is embodied in our public policy efforts with regulators and Congress. This report includes examples of our work in 2016.

Download the NI 2016 Social Impact Report (PDF)

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Four ingredients for powerful change in your money life

The new year offers us a burst of energy for starting fresh and recommitting to the changes we’d like to see in our lives. In the Mindful Money Transformation work I do to help clients achieve their money goals, I’ve found that there are four important ingredients that work together to help create powerful change.

#1 – Our WHYs

We start by identifying the goal (the WHAT) but then quickly dive into the WHY. There’s little energy in the “what” until it’s accomplished—the energy to fire our actions is in the “why.” If the goal is to pay off credit card debt, the why might be “to feel free from the stress of the debt hanging over me.” If the goal is to contribute the maximum amount into their IRA for the year, the why might be “to know that I am sending love to and caring for my elder self by what I do this year.”

# 2 – The energy of 90 days

Many of our goals are long term and that’s OK, but it can be overwhelming and hard maintain momentum toward goals that are still out of reach. So looking at the year by seasons can be a powerful lens that really focuses your energy: using the energy of your WHY, look at the next three months (set a specific target date) and set yourself an achievable goal. Shifting to this seasonal focus can really help you keep the momentum.

Let’s look at an example.

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Are you a butterfly or a honeybee in your money life?

Before she started working with me Hope had spent many years trying to build her wealth like a butterfly. She was flitting from one money guru to the next. Reading their books, following them online, and changing course as she found the next lovely “blossom” (investment approach, idea, stock) that caught her eye. Trying to build wealth on our own can often lead to this butterfly approach, fueled by fear that we’re doing the wrong thing (especially when the market takes a deep dive), and ever seeking new ways to make the most of this money are investing.

Hope is a smart businesswoman. She wanted to be smart about building her wealth, too. We are now working together using a honeybee approach to building her wealth—and getting her to her ultimate goal, financial freedom.

Watch a butterfly. It flutters from blossom to blossom in what seems lovely but a bit random. The butterfly is primarily there to drink the liquid nectar; the pollination they do is by accident. While butterflies are eye-catching with their beauty—and important pollinators—their focus and their purpose are very different from the behavior of the honeybee.

Now watch a honeybee.

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Three cheers for green beer!

I would guess that many of us, even if we aren’t partial to imbibing ourselves, have noticed the skyrocketing number of craft breweries in the past decade. Gone are the days where the options at a restaurant or grocery store were limited to three major distributors, all with at least a few unpronounceable ingredients, and coming from “farms” and “breweries” that resemble factories more than anything else.

Craft breweries, as stated by the American Brewers Association, must be “small, independent and traditional.” This means, respectively, less than 6 million barrels produced per year, less than 25% owned by larger non-craft beer companies, and the majority of their output must use traditional beer brewing techniques (though innovative ingredients are welcome!).

The explosion of interest in craft breweries, besides being a treat for our taste buds, has also been an economic force, with many breweries focusing on using local ingredients, paying living wages or forming employee owned cooperatives, and going green by re-using waste products and using clean energy.

Some of the pioneer craft breweries have become mid-sized nationally-known brands, while continuing to hold close to their sustainable roots. While you may recognize these names

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Credit report tips can keep you a bit safer

The IRS released a “tax tip” right at the end of 2015, suggesting that individuals consider putting credit freezes on their credit reports.  In our view, a freeze probably makes most sense for those who, a) don’t expect to be applying for new credit anytime soon, and b) have some concerns about others in their orbit having access to your personal information.

While this won’t protect you against all avenues of identity theft, it does put a roadblock up on one primary area of abuse.  A freeze makes it much harder for anyone to open a new account in your name and, depending on what state you are in, costs between nothing and $15. You can lift a freeze if you are going to be applying for a new account somewhere, but beware that it may take up to two weeks to clear.  And remember, you can always get a free copy of your credit report at annualcreditreports.com.

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End of Life Planning

“These will be the last words I hear you say”

Mary Black wrote those words in a song about the Irish diaspora, watching family members set sail for America. Today we sometimes say this as we help loved ones die with dignity.  While hospice care and dying at home is not for everyone, it represents a growing return to connecting our lives to our natural death.

And what does this have to do with your financial advisors?  Quite a bit, it turns out! When someone you love is diagnosed with a terminal condition, there are so many issues to deal with: care givers, finances, emotional and spiritual changes, and just coming to grips with the ending of a life.  Your financial advisor is not a religious advisor, nor a therapist, but we are very aware of your overall financial and life situation. We can help you and your family come to a deeper understanding of the issues you may want to be concerned with while you still live, as well as at the time of your death.

One of the best tools I have found for engaging families about end of life planning

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How to move forward when it feels like too much

We all have some money goals that leave us overwhelmed, drained of energy.  So we push them aside, but the longer we do so, the more this disconnection tends to fuel a feeling that we just don’t know how to tackle them. But it’s important to get past these feelings, and find your way forward into these difficult topics; I’m going to share three “bigger picture” framing ideas that can be applied to many of our inner challenges.

One of the biggest uncertainties for many of us is planning for retirement.  How will we live in our elder years?  What choices will we have? What will our lifestyle be? 

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The soft side of financial planning: factoring in peace of mind

It’s just numbers, right?  It should be pretty black and white.  Well, not always….

In my financial planning work with clients, we go through a process of exploring their goals, getting clear on what they really want, and then creating specific action steps to move toward those goals.

When exploring goals, there are three common questions that arise for many people:

  1. Should I rent or buy?
  2. Should I pay off my mortgage or build up my investments?
  3. Should I pay off my student loans or save for a longer term goal, like retirement or a down payment on a house?

The tough love financial guy, Dave Ramsey, usually has a black and white point of view about such questions.  There is one right answer:  “Duh! Of course you would do it this way.”

My personal experience, and my experience working with clients of different ages and in different financial situations, is that the financial planning process is full of grey areas.  There isn’t a black and white, “of COURSE you would…”, answer.

So what do we do?

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