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Tree-Huggers Legacy

Back in the 1970’s, “pointy-head tree-huggers” began insisting that their investment dollars not fund “unethical” companies, e.g., defense firms or those who did business with South Africa.  They insisted on SRI or socially responsible investing.  Mutual funds were developed just for SRI investors.

That has now morphed into ESG investing, which stands for environmental, social, and governance.  Polluters are obviously unacceptable, but the target is also on those companies who produce or supply socially destructive products like cigarettes or racist websites.  More interestingly, they also target those companies with opaque accounting or governance.  Companies with only token oversight from their “lily-white” Boards or frequent governmental investigations are finding some investors will simply boycott them.  There are now numerous ESG mutual funds and even exchange-traded funds for ESG investors.

This style of investing began abroad and has grown much more slowly in this country.  A recent survey of ESG investors in the U.S. found that 82% of females and 90% of Millennials support ESG investing.

Once again, old white Anglo-Saxon protestant investment managers need to catch up . . .