Forget the paradigm that many believe Millennials to be the “Me Generation.” Research proves them to be the “Us Generation.” “Us” encompasses the world.
BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager, recently conducted a survey that was discussed by Anne Ackerley in The BlackRock Blog. They that found that “67% of millennials say they want investments to reflect their social and environments values.” By the way, the article went on to say that, “… for women, it’s 76%.” We refer to this type of investing as “Impact Investing” and it is becoming a way of life for the next generation of investors. The question is; if you don’t have tons of money to invest, how can you get started?
Not A Fad, But A Trend
The Millennial voice is being heard loud and clear. They want this socially responsible investing to be a part of their portfolio and the market has responded. Calvert is one company known for its socially responsible investing (SRI) strategies. In fact, they were “… the first to launch a socially responsible mutual fund that avoided investment in companies that did business in apartheid-era South Africa."
The US SIF Foundation released a report in 2016 finding that SRI is real and growing. In their report, US Sustainable, Responsible and Impact Investing Trends, US SIF indicated that “The market size of sustainable, responsible and impact investing in the United States in 2016 is $8.72 trillion, or one-fifth of all investment under professional management.” With regard to Calvert, they found among their plan participants that, “87 percent want investment options that align with their values and 82 percent would likely choose such an option if offered.”
Start by deciding what is important to you and how you want to invest your money. Do you want to support green industries, health industries, young entrepreneurial companies, or the ones who are large and established?
You may think that you do not have enough money to start investing. Think again. Do you have a 401(k) at work? (By the way, if you do and have not signed up for that perk, stop reading this article and do that now.) Many 401(k) plans are offering SRI (Socially Responsible Investing) options because you, as the investors, have told companies that this is what you want. Even the U.S. Labor Department, as reported in The Impact of Sustainable and Responsible Investment, has rescinded an earlier opinion and, as CNBC reported, “…has now made it clear to 401(k) sponsors that, really, it’s okay to offer investments that fall under the umbrella of socially responsible investing – as long as it meets the same criteria as any investment under fiduciary rules.”
Talk to your Benefits Manager at work and indicate that you want to invest some or all your 401(k) assets in SRIs and that you would like to look at the list offered. Do your own research on the options and see if they resonate with your values and check out their past performance.
Do It Yourself
You do not necessarily need to have a 401(k) to get started. There is an online investing option called Swell Investing. Swell offers six thematic portfolios: Green Tech, Renewable Energy, Zero Waste, Clean Water, Healthy Living and Disease Eradication. I recently spoke with David Fanger, Swell’s founder and CEO, to get his thoughts on investing with your heart (but not forgetting your head).
“Swell knows that Millennials want to invest in companies aligned with their values, but we also know that they aren’t willing to sacrifice returns. That is why we urge our customers to invest in companies that are building innovative products and working toward addressing social and environmental challenges. It is also why we strive to educate. We believe that when consumers know better they do better. By empowering people with information, they can make more informed decisions.”
My message to Millennials is; #1 Invest and, #2 You can invest with a purpose that reflects your values. As Oprah Winfrey said, “Real integrity is doing the right th