How do I invest leftily and lazily?
July 27, 2005 1:41 PM   Subscribe

How can I find a financial advisor who specializes in investments that are in tune with my lefty sensibilities?

My investment guy will only reluctantly agree not to buy any Wal-Mart. I want to go beyond that -- I'm awfully darn liberal, and I figure I ought to put my money where my politics are. I can afford to do less well in the market in order to feel better about where my capital is going.

But I'm lazy. I know from experience that I won't do it if I leave it up to myself, and I'll just have a bunch of cash in my checking account. I need someone who will handle everything for me, and just let me know when they move my money around.

Are there investment firms that specialize in progressive investments, or at least "socially conscious" investments? Or tools for finding such firms?

If geography matters, we're talking about the Seattle area.
posted by gurple to Work & Money (13 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
You might check out the Social Investment Forum.

Good luck!
posted by trip and a half at 1:47 PM on July 27, 2005

There are some good links in this ask.metafilter thread about investing with a social conscience.

I recommended Domini then, and will again now.

Once you open an account, you can just have money automatically deducted from your check or your checking account every week/month/quarter/whatever. You won't have to think about it at all.
posted by bcwinters at 1:51 PM on July 27, 2005

You might also try Co-op America's Green Pages, or First Affirmative Financial Network, which is a network of lefty Socially Responsible Investment (SRI) financial advisors. (I have linked to the Washington search results.)
posted by small_ruminant at 1:53 PM on July 27, 2005

I'd check the directory at Consider fund families such as Pax, Calvert, and Citizens.
posted by Kibbutz at 1:56 PM on July 27, 2005

also, since you mention that you just want someone to handle the money for you and notify you when they move it, be aware that most financial advisors get paid based on fees for moving your money around, so you need to make sure the guy isn't just moving things to move things. (not only will you have to pay fees to the brokerage, you'll have to pay capital gains tax)
posted by clarahamster at 1:56 PM on July 27, 2005

Also, there are 2 sorts of SRI (at least) and one of them is shareholder activism. This means you (or your mutual fund) might own Walmart in order to have some voting clout at the shareholder meetings.

If you can't sleep at night knowing you own something morally repugnant to you, you will need to research the mutual funds or tell your advisor to do it.

Funds that do shareholder activism, (such as Domini), get slammed by the Paul Hawkinses of the world for not being pure enough.
posted by small_ruminant at 2:00 PM on July 27, 2005

clarahamster, usually you can arrange your fees to be based on transactions OR a percentage of assets. Transaction-based fees make sense for accounts that have very few transactions (long term bonds, for instance) and asset-based fees make sense for accounts that are actively traded.
posted by small_ruminant at 2:01 PM on July 27, 2005

Response by poster: Darn, I thought I did a good search before I posted, sorry for the overlap, though that earlier question seems to have been more about finding individual stocks than finding brokerages.
posted by gurple at 2:05 PM on July 27, 2005

Unless you have a significant amount of money (like millions) and/or an unnatural desire to pay fees, I would be surprised if you found a decent broker to invest your money as you describe. In my experience the average stock broker ain't that creative or enterprising. You'll probably end up doing your own research and investing directly via the mutual fund manager or through a do-it-yourself brokerage like AmeriTrade.

And to through my own sentiments in - the idea of a shareholder activist fund is very encouraging. The problem with our current system is that corporations claim that they will act responsible when their shareholders demand it - yet, most shareholders own via mutual funds and may not even realize they own that particular company's stock.
posted by mullacc at 3:45 PM on July 27, 2005

As kibbutz mentions above, check out Calvert. They have info on Socially Responsible Investing and SRI news , among other topics, at their website.
posted by ericb at 3:59 PM on July 27, 2005

There are managers who will manage individual stocks as you describe, but mullacc is right- the ethical ones won't usually agree to do it for accounts under a quarter million dollars or so. The usual arguments are that 1) you won't be able to be diversified enough to be safe, & 2) the fees they'd have to charge you to make it worth their while would be way too high a percentage of your portfolio to be ethical.
posted by small_ruminant at 4:01 PM on July 27, 2005

Portland, Oregon has Progressive Investment Management (located in the uber-cool Ecotrust Building). Oh, will you look at that! They have a Seattle office too.
posted by misterbrandt at 4:03 PM on July 27, 2005

A good friend of mine is a financial planner with First Affirmative. They are all about socially responsible investing. I'm sure she'd answer your questions and possibly recommend someone to you. You can contact kim at
posted by FlamingBore at 10:23 PM on July 27, 2005

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