Investing with Impact: Searching for Portfolio Values

As a professional advisor, my clients look for help in their financial lives; addressing goals and managing money. As a professional parent, my clients (ok, my kids) seek different guidance – help with family values instead of portfolio values. I’ve always known that high finance didn’t have to operate outside the ideals of good works, but personal and business contacts suggested I should combine the two when building portfolios. 

The Comparison: Our Second Opinion consulting services have given us insight on what local investors hold in their portfolios. Not surprisingly, I see lots of mutual funds from the American Funds Group. This family of funds has a stable of solid performers and is one of America’s top broker-sold fund families. Knowing the typical mix of these typical American Funds based portfolios, I sought to replicate those local portfolios while inserting stock funds which exclude social ills or seek out companies with positive practices toward the environment, labor relations and human rights.

The Results: When socially responsible investing (SRI) gained traction in the 1980’s, it had a reputation of high expenses and poor performance. But, as companies began to clean up their acts, and SRI became ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance investing) investment performance was no longer an issue. As the saying goes, “Past performance is not indicative of future results.” It became clear that investors didn’t need to choose between personal preference or portfolio performance. Using funds, including some from Calvert, Pax World, Parnassus and Portfolio 21, I created a portfolio that was attentive to the world, while providing broader diversification and comparative historical outperformance.             

The Reality: No one can predict future ethical or financial performance, but a simple comparison against some of America’s largest mutual funds suggested, that with intentional research and focus, a portfolio could be built that does well while doing good. ESG shouldn’t be seen as moral judgment or a high-minded crusade. It’s simply an opportunity to invest at lease some of your dollars in a manner consistent with how you live your life. Gone are the days, and wrong impressions, of expensive, tree-hugging, under-performancing socially responsible investments. Investors, and their professional Advisors, have lots of options -- as exhibited by this investing arena with more than 150 funds and over $ 83 billion dollars under management.  So, with apologies to Capital One, “What’s in Your Portfolio?”  We think the answer is worth knowing. 

Drummond Osborn, CFP® is President & Senior Advisor of OSBORN Wealth Management. As part of his professional journey, Drummond spent time working with a mutual fund company dedicated to socially responsible investing.


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