New Trends in Impact Investing

by Heather Phillips on November 21, 2017

By Surya Kolluri, Managing Director, Global Wealth & Investment Management, Bank of America

In past years, investing in one’s environmental, religious and personal values focused mainly on negative screening, which involves determining which securities to keep out of your portfolio. This approach has historically been referred to as socially responsible investing. Today, a more positive approach is steadily growing more popular, which has contributed to the increasingly utilized term impact investing.

According to the 2016 U.S. Trust Insights on Wealth and Worth® survey, a majority of investors feel that it is more important to invest in companies that will have a positive social or environmental impact than it is to boycott companies that are harmful in this regard. Additionally, a 2014 report from the Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment (US SIF) found that values-based investing accounted for $6.57 trillion, or roughly one in every six dollars under professional management. This number is 76% higher than the $3.74 trillion noted in US SIF’s 2012 report.

Investors should consider companies with strong fundamentals when weighing impact investing, and seek out corporations that earn revenue through their management of human capital, environmental stewardship and good corporate governance. These three socially responsible categories offer investors an opportunity to combine competitive investments with their personal values.

One category of impact investing is known as thematic investing. An example of a thematic investing approach is “Gender Lens” investing. These investments focus on improving the lives of women and girls and often reflect a values-driven approach to human capital management. In many cases, companies with progressive policies toward gender equality are well run and frequently are able to recruit and retain top talent. According to the 2016 U.S. Trust Wealth and Worth study, female investors are much more likely than their male counterparts—73% to 46%, respectively—to consider the social and environmental impact of companies they invest in.

Environmental stewardship examines the use of alternative energy and clean tech and explores the impact on climate change and water sources. Companies that focus on sustainable efforts will often be rewarded with cheaper operational costs. Ultimately, investors may benefit if a company’s cost-saving technology produces a higher profit.

It is important for impact investors to understand how a company operates. Corporate governance focuses on disclosure, incentives, reporting and corporate transparency. Investors can determine whether a company believes in full disclosure and how well it communicates with stakeholders by carefully studying the company’s website. The trend of impact investing is changing the wealth management space and creating a new, more active approach.

There is a growing awareness that strong corporate financial performance and social responsibility are not mutually exclusive; rather, they are mutually beneficial. These factors of environmental, social and governance (ESG) have become increasingly important not only in identifying opportunities to invest in companies with a strong positive corporate culture, but are equally important in mitigating and avoiding potential investment risk associated with companies acting otherwise.

There is an increasing demand from both institutional and individual clients for investment opportunities focused on environmental or social value sets. In the U.S. Trust study, almost six in 10 investors say the social and environmental impact of the companies they invest in is important to their investment decisions, and 40% believe that companies that adhere to good social and environmental policies and practices are less susceptible to risks. Investing in securities involves risk, and there is always the potential of losing money when you invest in securities.

With a balanced approach, you have the potential to make impactful investments. Work with a financial advisor who understands your long-term needs and investment personality, but who also understands what you value most.

For more information, contact your Merrill Lynch Wealth Management Advisor Gardy Bloemers in the Charlottesville, Virginia office at 434.984.4752 or Gardner.bloemers@ml.com.

This article is designed to provide general information about ideas and strategies. It is for discussion purposes only since the availability and effectiveness of any strategy is dependent upon your individual facts and circumstances. Always consult with your independent attorney, tax advisor, investment manager, and insurance agent for final recommendations and before changing or implementing any financial, tax, or estate planning strategy.

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Remembering Bruce, A Local Eco-hero

by Betty on November 15, 2017

The Betty Team received sad news today about the passing of Bruce Edmonds — a longtime Betty supporter, local recycling hero, co-host of the “Bruce and Betty” eco-living radio segment on 1061 the Corner, and RSWA McIntire Recycling manager.

I have such fond memories of our lighthearted segment with Brad Savage of the Corner radio where we would wax poetic (or at least try to) about the ease, importance, and fun of recycling among other topics.  I remember his favorite saying, “that’s a win-win for everyone!” Usually about the 3 R’s: reducing, reusing, and recycling.

I would tell listeners, “Don’t let his gruff voice and sometimes “negative nancy” attitude fool you– (Bruce’s words, not mine). He cares very deeply about his environmental work!” The photo above is Bruce at Crutchfield’s Big Recycling Event – rumored to be the biggest single-day recycling event in the state at that time (2008).  He was there from dawn until dusk that day!  Bruce and I also worked together when Betty successfully petitioned to keep the recycling center open (bottom photo).

Bruce was in the recycling biz for over 20 years and really knew his stuff. With pride he told me that the McIntire Recycling Center was opened on the first Earth Day. He worked for RSWA for many years and recycling regulars appreciated him keeping the place clean and well-run.

He was a big supporter of Betty’s mission right from the beginning and always had encouraging words for me in my early days of beginning the organization. When I didn’t have the slightest idea on how to recycle an item (like an old but working gas grill – they sell them at the Encore Shop out at the Ivy MUC), he would always know the answer. And if he didn’t know the answer, he would find it out.  Pictured below was plastic wrap I brought in from a flower bouquet – he said unfortunately it wasn’t recyclable, but he would use it as a scarf.  So I snapped his photo!

 

Bruce, you will be missed! Thanks for all you did for our community and the planet.

Blessings,

Betty

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Get the Most Out Of Your Summer Veggies

September 13, 2017

The summer crops are just about done (if not entirely), and you may be planting the last of your fall crops. Many of you may have an abundance of left over tomatoes, squash, beans, cucumbers and the like. A great harvest is fantastic but we may find yourself wondering, “what do I do with all […]

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Top Takeaways from DiCaprio’s “Before the Flood” Film on Climate Change

May 29, 2017

Thursday night’s premiere of Before the Flood at the Paramount in downtown Charlottesville was a sobering look at how climate change is affecting our environment and what society can do to prevent the demise of endangered species, ecosystems, and native communities across the planet. I was absolutely thrilled to see so many Betties and Better […]

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Mosquito Conundrum: To Spray or Not to Spray?

May 11, 2017

Recently my friend called me asking for Betty’s help. There was an email exchange on her neighborhood listserv about a neighbor who was asking for recommendations on how to get rid of mosquitoes this summer and a couple folks encouraged her to use the local mosquito control companies that use insectides. She is a bird […]

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5 Things You Can Do After You March

April 29, 2017

If you went to the Science March last weekend or today’s Climate March in D.C. or attended a local march, there is plenty to do in the wake of the positive collective energy that is gathering! 1. Make Your Voice Heard! Wield your phone eco-warrior by calling your local, state, and federal representatives and let […]

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3 Steps to Eco Friendly Hosting

April 13, 2017

Having a dinner party or Memorial Day BBQ? Concerned about how to be an Earth conscious host? Betty has a few tips to keep your event clean and green! Download the PDF guide

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Celebrate Earth Week in Charlottesville

April 13, 2017

Earth Week is a week long celebration leading up to Earth Day, which happens each year on April 22nd. In Charlottesville, there are many April activities and events focused on celebrating, exploring and defending, the Earth. Check out what’s coming up. UVA Earth Week Events by UVA Sustainability 4/17 – 4/23 Mon 4/17: UVA Farmers Market from […]

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On Valentine’s Day Show Your Love for the Planet

February 7, 2017

As with many other holidays in the United States, Valentine’s Day is one of those holidays where we tend to spend money on stuff. Cards, flowers, candies and gifts. We often share a message about buying and consuming less stuff, and we believe you should show appreciation of your significant other or loved ones every […]

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A Green App a Day Keeps the Greenhouse Gasses Away!

March 17, 2016

For those of you who weren’t able to join us at Firefly for yummy green appetizers and some favorite apps, here is a list of some of our favorite FREE apps! Light Bulb Finder I loved this app when we switched our candle-style bulbs from ancient incandescents to the latests LEDs (super savings!).  It will ask […]

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