May 20, 2007 4:49 PM Subscribe
How ethical are Ethical Funds? After meeting with an SRI adviser and perusing the literature, I'm not so sure.
posted by lindsey.nicole to work & money (19 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
Recently I got interested in investing my money in something more profitable than a term deposit. I know nada about the stock market, but after reading up on Socially Responsible Investing, positive screening, etc, Ethical Funds seemed like a good fit. So I set up a meeting with an SRI specialist at my credit union to talk it over.
I'd thought SRI meant investing in only 'good' companies (told you I was new to this). Through the meeting I found out certain businesses I find rather reprehensible - and make a point of not frequenting - are on the list for most SRI funds. At least, that's how I understood it.
My adviser was pretty convincing - stakeholder activism, power to bring about change, and so on - but I'm still doubtful. Yeah, it's great that socially-minded stakeholders convinced Company X to finally produce a sustainability report - but if X still employs sweatshops, busts unions, and in general conducts itself in a way that I don't support, it seems like a moot point. I'm all for changing businesses from the inside, but it seems like any changes accomplished will be concessionary at best.
So I have a few questions. Feel free to answer any or all, in whichever way you see fit:
1) Do the benefits of ethical investing outweigh the negatives?
2) What have your experiences been with Ethical Funds, or related funds (Meritas, etc)?
3) Are there any other options? I know about local, microcredit initiatives, but I'm wondering if there are any super-ethical plans with very rigorous criteria (and whether they make any money at it).
4) How much knowledge/time would it take for me to be able to invest on my own, without a built-in plan? And would this be worthwhile, considering I'd be filtering out a lot of profitable companies? I should clarify that I mean "worthwhile" financially - I'm aware that supporting socially responsible companies is rewarding in non-monetary ways.