ESG Investing - Your Portfolio, Your Values | Trust Point
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ESG Investing – Your Portfolio, Your Values

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Updated August 3, 2022

Yan Arsenault CFA®, CAIA, Chief Investment Officer

Tailoring your investments to reflect your environmental, social, or governance values does not mean you’ll sacrifice returns

Human rights. Climate change. Public health and safety. These are just a few examples of areas in which many people today would like to make a positive impact. An increasingly common way to do it: environmental, social and governance (ESG) investing.

In a general sense, ESG investing is aimed at sustainability, as it relates to environmental, health and wellness, and economic viability. Whatever your values and motivations, taking an ESG approach can help ensure you invest with businesses and organizations that align with your principles — and you don’t have to sacrifice returns to do it.

A Real-World Example

We recently had a client, who was eager to learn about how she could support her life’s mission of protecting animal rights and how Trust Point could assist.

Her vision was to establish a corporate foundation, which we did, with Trust Point as the agent for investment management and all administrative and tax reporting. We then began working on an investment strategy for this client, which is when she asked about ways to ensure her investments did not contribute to companies that tested on or harmed animals in any way — a form of ESG investing.

Broadly speaking, there are three ways to help achieve a client’s ESG goals.

1. Exclusion

This approach is the easiest method if the investor knows what they’d like to avoid in their portfolio. Our technology at Trust Point can screen companies for specific factors important to our client’s values and exclude them from their investments. For this client, we could exclude any company directly involved in denying animals their basic rights not to be exploited, abused and/or killed.

2. Best Practice

For investors who want to do good with their money, but don’t know exactly what they’d like to exclude, we would use the best practice approach. We have the ability to seek out and look at companies that operate best around various environmental, social and governance factors to ensure that the investor’s portfolio is sustainable and socially responsible.

3. Social Impact

A newer approach for investors who aren’t necessarily looking for exclusions is called social impact investing. This is for individuals who intend to support a specific segment of the market. For example, advancing the clean energy transition. In this method, we would focus their portfolio on companies tailored to this cause.

Finding The Right Fit

Because we knew our client wanted to avoid certain companies, using the exclusion approach was the best option for her. We screened companies for animal welfare, and in doing so, we excluded all companies from the foundation’s portfolio that were involved in animal testing or exploitation, such as zoos or marine shows.

In the end, we were able to create an investment portfolio that was diversified and also reflected the values and mission of the client’s foundation and life’s work. It was a win-win.

What Are Your Values?

Here are a few common examples of ESG factors investors consider:

Environmental

Conservation and the natural world:

  • Carbon emissions
  • air and water pollution
  • Green energy initiative

Social

How a company treats people:

  • Employee gender and diversity
  • Data security
  • Fair labor practices

Governance

How a company is run:

  • Diversity of board members
  • Political contributions
  • Lobbying

Contact us to see how we can support your values during the investment process.

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Yan Arsenault CFA®, CAIA, Chief Investment Officer