The Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment (USSIF) defines sustainable, responsible and impact investing (SRI) as “an investment discipline that considers environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) criteria to generate long-term competitive financial returns and positive societal impact.” There has been growing interest in responsible investing over the past decade and we have found that there are several motivations for investors to incorporate responsible investment techniques as they build their long-term investment portfolios. Individual investors are striving to align their investment portfolios with their personal values and goals, foundations and endowments are building portfolios that support their institutional mission and retirement plan sponsors are offering investment choices that provide plan participants with the ability to invest in funds that do not violate their personal beliefs.
Responsible investors strive for strong financial performance, but also believe that these responsible investments should be used to contribute to advancements in environmental, social and governance (ESG) best practices. They may also actively seek out high impact investments that are likely to provide important societal or environmental benefits. Some institutional investors are embracing responsible investment strategies to both manage risk and to fulfill their fiduciary duties.
The field of responsible investing offers many unique strategies including the consideration of environmental, community, other societal and corporate governance (ESG) criteria in investment analysis and portfolio construction, community investing which seeks explicitly to finance projects or institutions that will serve poor and underserved communities in the United States and overseas, and for investors with shares in publicly traded companies, filing shareholder resolutions and practicing other forms of shareholder engagement. Multiple responsible investment strategies can be used together to encourage responsible business practices and to allocate capital for social and environmental benefit across the economy.