Socially Responsible Investing Workshop

Money on a mission: Values-based investment pays off

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Companies that pursue policies that help the environment can also help investors’ bottom-line. That’s the foundation of the strategy of Terra Alpha Investment, said Amy Dine, director of advocacy for the company. Dine served as keynote speaker at a Socially Responsible Investing Workshop held Tuesday at Bowling Green State University. Formed three years ago, Terra Alpha Investments uses measures of  environmental productivity to determine which companies it will invest in. This approach is not “a niche,” Dine said, nor a fad. Sustainable investing, she said, represented about 20 percent of all professionally managed funds in 2016, about $8.72 trillion. That’s up, she said, by 33 percent, from 2014, and expected to grow when 2018 figures are reported. Investor putting their money where their values are, is not a new approach, Dine said. It began with investors who wanted to invest their money in companies that aligned with their religious faith, or at least, disinvest from tobacco, liquor, and other “sin”-related firms. That approach, Dine said, foundered some because the returns did not match the market. Still faith-based investing remains strong. The BGSU workshop was co-sponsored by Munn Wealth Management, a Maumee firm heavily engaged in faith-based investing. The second wave of values-based investment was prompted, Dine said, by activists in the 1970s and 1980s, looking for ways to protest apartheid in South Africa, industrial disasters including the nuclear meltdown at Chernobyl and the chemical release at Bhopal, India, as well as domestic concerns such as brownfield sites. These activists saw having proxy votes as a way to sway corporate behavior. Now the third way uses corporate practices to decide which companies to invest in. This is more than protest, but a realization that those companies paying attention to how they use natural resources, that are diligent about the treatment of those in their supply chain, and that govern in a transparent and for long-term success are just better companies, she said. Chemistry Professor Neocles Leontis, one of those who organized the session, introduced Dine by saying when the coral reef is dying in the south and ice is melting in the far north, these are issues investors need to be paying attention to. Dine said this does not mean only new, cutting edge companies get supported. General Motors is developing a landfill-free plant, where everything is reused or recycled, saving $1 billion in the process. Adidas has a shoe that is made with 95-percent recycled plastic pulled from the sea around the Maldives. FedEx has redesigned its airplanes to make them morefuelefficient, and also made improvements to its truck fleet. It saved $840 million a year. And Starbucks, a company now embroiled in charges stemming from the arrest of two African-American men, just days before that incident had promised to develop a completely recyclable cup and get rid of plastic stirrers. Now, Dine said, about 2,200 publicly listed companies report on their environmental impact, giving investors the information they need. That’s a start, she said, given there are 7,000 publicly listed companies. More changes are in store, Dine said. Social media has become “a weapon of choice” is sounding off against corporate policies. She noted how quickly Dick’s and Walmart acted to stop selling some weapons after the Parkview school shooting. Millennials are more driven by their values. “They don’t buy from companies they don’t like. They won’t work for a company if they’re not proud of what it does.” Following her talk, Dine joined Darren Munn, of Camelot Portfolios which is a sister company to Munn Wealth Management, and Robert Huesman, a senior…

Workshop at BGSU advocates for socially responsible investing

From SOCIALLY RESPONSIBLE INVESTING WORKSHOP Most investors do not know what companies they own as part of their investment portfolios holding mutual funds. That is not good.   To address that problem, a group of northwest Ohio activists has spent a year putting together a two-hour workshop at BGSU. The Socially Responsible Investing Workshop will be held Tuesday, April 24, from 7:30-9:30 p.m. in room 201 in the Bowling  Green State University student union. The workshop is being hosted by: Nick Hennessey, director of BGSU Office of Sustainability; Professor Enrique Gomez del Campo, Department of Environmental Sustainability; Professor Neocles Leontis, Department of Chemistry;  Josh Mudse, CFP Munn Wealth Management; and Professor Emeritus Tom Klein, English Department. Panel members will be: Darren Munn, CFA, Chief Investment Officer, Camelot Portfolios; Owaiz Dadabhoy, Director of Islamic Investing, Saturna Capital; and Robert Huesman, CFA, CFP, Senior Investment Associate, 1919 Investment Counsel. Socially responsible investing is a strategy that had a dramatic birth in the 1970s when investors began divesting from companies operating under South African apartheid.  It has become very popular over the last three decades, considering both financial return and social and environmental good.  Since 2012 such investing has grown in popularity, with a 135% increase in assets under management to $8.72 trillion.  Today there are about 500 such funds. Specifically, it’s possible to promote positive change by investing in companies advocating clean energy, social justice and environmental sustainability.    Many funds give the investor the choice of what to avoid or invest in.   For example, choices can include harmful industries such as fossil fuels, civilian and military weapons, tobacco, GMO producers and nuclear energy; they can also include support for companies that help the poor start businesses such as the work of micro-finance in Africa. The three most important goals of sustainable investing are to protect the planet, protect our communities and families, and protect our portfolios.