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  • Cammy Smith

SRI & Practices Every Financial Advisor Needs to Know

You have seen the acronyms and heard the buzz. But, you are left just as confused as when you started! Sustainable Investing, Green Investing, SRI and ESG. How do they go together, what does it all mean, and why does it matter for you and your clients? Continue reading to understand the importance and key differences among investment strategies.



Did you know...?

  • One in every four investable dollars in the U.S. is deployed into some sort of SRI strategy (US SIF).

  • Adoption of SRI and ESG strategies is growing at an unprecedented rate. According to the US SIF, sustainable, responsible, and impact investing experienced a growth rate of more than 38% from 2016 to 2018*.

  • SRI now represents about $12 Trillion of all assets under management 26% of the $46.6 trillion in total assets (Cerulli Associates)


Why all financial advisors should pay attention to SRI

Companies are the most vulnerable to reputation risk they have ever been due to global connectivity, technology, and social media. The climate is in poor shape: the 2018 U.S. Climate Assessment results were the most devastating they have ever been, and extreme weather patterns continue to cause devastation and financial loss across the globe. As a result, the Investor > Asset Manager > Company value chain is now a web in which all parties influence one another more than ever. And, many investors want to put their money where their mouth is: 71% of individual investors and 87% of millennial investors have expressed interest in investing using SRI strategies**.


The business case for SRI

Companies are the most vulnerable to reputation risk they have ever been due to global connectivity, technology, and social media. The climate is in poor shape: the 2018 U.S. Climate Assessment results were the most devastating they have ever been, and extreme weather patterns continue to cause devastation and financial loss across the globe. As a result, the Investor > Asset Manager > Company value chain is now a web in which all parties influence one another more than ever. And, many investors want to put their money where their mouth is: 71% of individual investors and 87% of millennial investors have expressed interest in investing using SRI strategies**.


Profits, Performance, and Risk

By not thinking SRI, you may be giving up returns for your clients.


With risk mitigation, business costs and practices become more predictable. This inevitably helps company profitability and thus stock performance - both in the short-term and long-term. Study after study is demonstrating the risk-adjusted performance across asset classes and sectors is on-par or better for SRI related strategies.


ESG practices are the foundation of business sustainability which translates into long-term sustainability in society. By not paying attention, companies are taking undue risk leaving themselves vulnerable to reputation risk (impact on stock performance) in the short-term and business sustainability in the long-run. Pulling the cord even further, this means that investors may ultimately be prone to these similar risks.


From a pure performance perspective, SRI strategies have been performing on-par or better than their peers across most geographies and asset classes.


In fact, a 2016 study looked at ESG companies across industries, and found that in 8 out of 12 industries, the ESG investments out-performed peers by an average of 14%. This calls into question the age-old notion that higher risk investments will yield higher rewards. Instead, the study suggests that lower risk ESG investment may be the way to maximize returns within certain industries. Additionally, according to Morningstar, we found that 41 of the 56 Morningstar’s ESG indexes outperformed their non-ESG equivalents (73%) since inception.***


Your fiduciary responsibility

By focusing only on financial metrics, asset managers and advisors are neglecting the complete picture of security selection. Let’s draw a corollary with assessing an individual investor’s objectives. Would it make sense to recommend a portfolio without first understanding a client’s short- and long-term goals? Risk tolerance, time horizon, and liquidity needs? Employment situation, past investment experiences, and major life events? Health factors, family need factors, family health history? Goals, dreams, and fears? So it’s the same from an investment context perspective: if we only rely on financial metrics without greater context, we may be ignoring signals, risks, and underlying factors that are imperative. By not bringing up the conversation, we may be neglecting to understand values, ideals, and goals of our clients that impact their long-term situation. As fiduciaries, we are responsible for the greater picture.






#SRI #ESG #SustainableInvesting #GreenInvesting