Today, more and more people want their investment choices to reflect their core philosophies. Socially responsible investing, known also as “environmental, social and governance investing (ESG),” describes investment strategies that seek to accommodate your social, environmental and sustainability goals.

Of course, socially concerned investors pursue the same goals as all investors: generating income or capital gains and/or preserving capital for future needs. We work together to define a variety of investment vehicles that can accommodate your personal views, as well as your investment objectives.

A more detailed look at the components of ESG

Environmental: This refers to a company’s energy use, pollution, natural resource conservation, and animal treatment. It considers how environmental risks might affect a company’s income and how the company manages those risks. Think BP, or certain fracking activities that are raising environmental concerns. What is a company’s track record for disposing of hazardous waste, how do they handle toxic emissions, are they in compliance with government environmental regulations?

Social: When researching a business’ relationships, note if they work with suppliers that hold the same values as the business claims to hold. Do they donate a portion of profits to the community or get involved with volunteerism? Are the working conditions healthy and safe for employees? Does the company consider stakeholders’ interests?

Governance: Does the business demonstrate accurate and transparent accounting methods, and allow common stock holders a vote on important issues? There should be no conflicts of interest when choosing board members, and it goes without saying that if companies are involved in any illegal activities or have made political contributions that directly benefit their own business, they are automatically eliminated from the viable investment list.

Marie wants to invest in companies that care about the values she has.

Marie wanted an investment portfolio that aligned with her personal values. We began by screening for ESG (an acronym for environmental, social and governance). It is not uncommon to hear “XYZ Corporation engages in practices that are harmful to the environment, so I don’t want their stocks in my portfolio.” Or “I don’t want to invest in anything related to fossil fuels, or in a company that doesn’t treat their employees fairly.”

Corporate leaders and entrepreneurs are listening and taking note of an emerging movement – one in which individuals purposefully seek out companies with strong ESG. Smart money management is now defined as “those who seek to match their investment dollars to their personal values.” This has led an increasing number of companies to adopt a more structured approach to ESG because, simply put, it just makes good business sense.

There is a building consensus that corporations who take care of their people and the environment will do better over time. It’s a movement largely driven not only by Boomers, but also by younger generations. In fact, Gen Y first coined the phrase “our values define us.”

As an alternative energy advocate, Marie has a strong desire to avoid any stock associated with fossil fuels. This kind of values-based strategy is called avoidance investing. She’s also engaged in proactive investing by selecting companies that mirror her values.

This investment profile is hypothetical and not indicative of any specific situations or clients. Individual circumstances and results will vary. It is presented only as an example and not intended as investment advice. Please note, changes in tax laws or regulations may occur at any time and could substantially impact your situation. Raymond James financial advisors do not render advice on tax or legal matters. You should discuss any tax or legal matters with the appropriate professional.

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