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Investing In Your Values

Whether you call it SRI (Socially Responsible Investing), Impact Investing, or ESG (Environmental Social Governance), today’s investors want portfolios that reflect their values. Sacha Millstone and the Millstone Evans Group have been working with clients to meet that demand since the inception of their practice. Sacha was one of the first financial advisors in the country to offer this investment strategy.

SRI: Now More Than Ever

Sacha’s passion for SRI began long before it was fashionable. “I grew up in a very socially and politically aware household,” she explains. “My Dad was a journalist who felt strongly about a lot of moral and ethical issues, which was reflected in our dinner table conversation. I absorbed those values, and in everything I do, I want to be aligned with them.”

“At the very beginning, one way SRI would drive change would be by embarrassing companies by publishing information, about their poor environmental records, for example,” Sacha recalls. “No one wanted to be called out in the New York Times as one of the 10 worst polluters in the world.” For her, it’s gratifying to see that attitudes within a growing number of companies have changed: “There’s been a real evolution at the CEO level when you a company that in the past did not take such concerns seriously, now hiring a highly qualified head of social responsibility with authority to change the status quo.”

Portfolios & Principles

According to Sacha, in recent years clients have become much more focused about what’s in their investment portfolios. For example, many don’t wish to hold stocks in companies that manufacture guns, Practices around pay equity, opportunity and diversity, are also receiving more scrutiny.

Clients are looking to support companies whose products promote wise resource use and other positive environmental impacts.

“When the U.S. pulled out of the Paris Climate Accords, I saw a jump in the number of people who want to make sure that the companies they’re investing in are doing business in a way that’s consistent with good environmental stewardship” she reports.

Planning for Climate Change

“Another factor is that many CEOs now must plan for climate change. They are responsible for long range planning,” Sacha says, and especially in light of the most recent scientific data, they have to consider how environmental changes may affect everything from operations, to their products and services, to the daily lives of their employees.

As she reflects on the past, Sacha looks to the future. “A way of thinking that in 1986 was considered somewhat ‘fringe’ is becoming mainstream. We now have a generation of traditionally trained investment managers in the workforce who want to apply their skills in a way that drives sustainability to meet the very real challenges ahead. I think we’ll see a sea change in this area over the next 10-15 years. Research criteria will change. Risk will be defined differently. Holistic thinking will become the norm.”

To learn how The Millstone Evans Group can create a socially responsible portfolio for you, click here.

All opinions expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of Raymond James. Opinions expressed are as of this date and subject to change at any time without notice.