Four ways to invest according to your values
How someone chooses what to invest in can take so many forms, beyond just what the potential return might be.
Increasingly, investors are looking for investments that reflect their values and to make a difference with their money.
Here are four ways you can evaluate investments before hitting buy.
1. Map your values
If you want ethics to be part of how you make investment decisions, you should think about which issues matter the most to you.
For instance, you can look at what products or services a company offers and think about whether it's something the world needs - will it benefit society and our environment in the future? Are you concerned about climate change? Do you prefer a company actively supporting charitable causes?
What about workplace health and safety, or workers' rights in general? Organise them like a traffic light-the red issues are the issues you don't want to invest towards at all, while the green issues are things you actively want to invest towards.
Everything in the middle is an orange issue, which you can decide on a case-by-case basis.
You can then map these issues you've written down against potential investments, including looking for funds that are themed around different focus areas that matter to you. For example, there are exchange-traded funds focused on sustainability or clean energy.
2. Consider accreditations
A common topic right now is ESG (environmental, social, and governance) and how a fund might follow an ESG strategy.
Funds that follow a strategy like this look to make investment decisions based on how well companies perform on these criteria-do they treat the environment well? Do they treat their people well? Do they have good processes and fair pay?
You can look to see if they have an ESG score and how they might be tracking. For individual companies, you can also check if they have achieved B Corp certification and their score and use this as an assessment criteria for investing.
But you can't rely on accreditations alone; it's important to do your homework to make sure that they are living up to what they say they will do.
3. Do your homework
Following on from the point above, doing your own research, or due diligence, can help make sure that if a company says they are doing something, that they actually are.
Some companies release specific reports about sustainability and other ethical issues alongside their annual reports, which can provide an indication of what they care about.
4. Consider how the company or fund is spending money
Where and how are they spending their money - how does that reflect on what kind of organisation or fund option they might be? Have they recently acquired any other businesses that give an indication of their future growth and strategic direction? For example, an energy company investing in renewables or a beauty company moving away from plastic production.
Investing in relation to morals or values is personal - this varies from person to person depending on what's important to them.
There's no one size fits all approach. But by asking these questions, you could find the investments right for you.
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