Chocolate is like gold around our house. Ever since my teenaged daughters found out about non-fair trade practices in the chocolate industry, we’ve had to adjust our intake. Fair Trade chocolate bars are expensive! None of my 8 kids will hesitate to tell you that it’s worth the sacrifice if it means preventing another child from being forced to work in the cocoa fields of West Africa.
I was honored when my kids took on this cause. But things got a little personal when they asked about my business. “Dad, don’t you invest millions of dollars for your clients into companies that make stuff we use and eat? Is Hershey’s one of those companies?” I was embarrassed to admit that I did not know for sure. My portfolios contain mutual funds that own shares of 100s of different companies. I knew that I owed it to my kids, and the kids in Africa, to begin researching Socially Responsible Investments (SRI) to see if they might make sense for my clients . . . and for the world.
One year later, after attending conferences, completing continuing education courses on the topic, and joining organizations like the US/SIF www.ussif.org, what I discovered has completely changed my entire approach to Investment Management. I now believe that not only are there many ways in which one’s values can guide investment choices, but that investing in companies that are attempting to do the right thing in regards to people and the planet might just be the best place to put your money from an investment strategy standpoint. In short, the standard response by financial advisors to values based investing—that you must sacrifice returns—is at best outdated and is certainly unsubstantiated.
This blog will be an attempt to pass on some of what I’ve learned along with tools and resources to empower responsible investment decisions. If you are concerned about fair trade practices, company ethics, environmental issues, human rights, and anything else in the SRI realm, we hope you will continue investigating how to make an impact with your dollars.
To find out more about Jack Schniepp and Cascade Financial Strategies go to: www.cascadefs.com.