Share on ThriftyFunThis page contains the following solutions. Have something to add? Please share your solution!
Although SRI has grown into a three-trillion dollar industry, its beginning were humble. Now one of the fastest growing trends in financial investing, historically speaking, SRI has been around for more than a century. More recently, the field of SRI re-emerged as a grassroots movement after the Vietnam War, when activists began to question whether or not their investments helped to finance war efforts they did not support.
Logic would suggest that there must be a financial price to pay for putting your money where your heart is, at least this is what opponents of SRI argue. After all, there are less SRI options to invest in, which should mean a portfolio with greater volatility, less efficiency and reduced returns on your investment. Proponents of SRI counter this argument by pointing out that companies that are engaged in unsustainable business practices will show poorer profits over time, while companies who participate in sustainable business practices deliver a better overall performance.
SRI distinguishes itself from conventional investing by incorporating the following three strategies: Screening, Shareholder Activism and Community Investing.
Screening is the inclusion or exclusion of investment options based on a set of environment or social criteria. There can be both positive and negative screens. For example, you may want to invest in an SRI mutual fund made up of holdings that exclude companies (negative screening) that generate more than a certain percentage of their revenue from sales of military weapons or tobacco or that use animals for testing. Or, you may want to only invest in companies that participate in renewable energy or promote employment equality (positive screening).
Just like conventional investors, an investor and shareholder in a socially responsible company becomes part owner of that company. With SRI, shareholders are strongly encouraged to use this status to influence corporate behavior. Investors are encouraged to file shareholder resolutions that pressure corporate executives into improving the company's performance (e.g. reducing energy use) or join forces with other interests to solve environmental and social issues such as preserving wilderness or protecting women's rights.
Community Investing is creating financial resources for the economically disadvantaged. This can be done in a number of ways, but the easiest way to participate is by doing your banking at a community development bank or credit union. These financial institutions focus on funding economic development for low to middle income people in the US and abroad that are normally overlooked by traditional financial institutions.
Whether you're an individual investor or you're part of a company, university, and church or non-profit, there are socially responsible options designed to align your social and financial values. Check out these resources for more information:
Investment newsletters that give advice on buying and selling securities can cost more than $500 a year, but you can often pick up free investment advice by looking for those same publications in your local library. Some trusted names than many library systems carry include Value Line, Standard's and Poor's.
Investing in the stock market takes some research. Learn what stocks you can purchase and how best to acquire them. Direct stocks can be purchased without a broker
Unlike a savings account, certificate of deposit funds are invested for a set time period and set interest rate. There can be a stiff penalty when the funds are withdrawn early. This is a page about investing in certificates of deposit (CDs).
Annuities can be costly for you and very profitable for the company selling them, and may not be the best place to put your savings. This is a page about investing in annuities.