Sustainable, responsible, and impact (SRI) investing now accounts for more than $17 trillion in assets under management. As its popularity has grown in recent years, so too has the number of investment firms attempting to get in on the action with low-fee, automated robo-advisors that advertise their ability to allow investors to dial up “green” investments from their smartphones in minutes. At first, you’d think that more SRI investment options would be a good thing, but if you take the time to look beyond the trendy portfolio name and under the hood … many times, it’s simply not the case. Too many of these large and historically traditional investment brands are simply gaming the system, and it’s called ‘greenwashing.’
Greenwashing is the process of conveying a false impression or providing misleading information to deceive potential investors into believing their curated portfolio offerings are comprised of only environmentally-friendly companies.
Robo-advisors can absolutely be a great investment tool, but without the time and investment acumen required to weed out the “green” opportunists, the prevalence of greenwashed robo-advisors in today’s climate is not only tainting the true intention of SRI, the confusion and resulting lack of trust is also reducing the positive impact investors can have with their money.
So, if you don’t want to discover Exxon in your ‘sustainable’ portfolio, Hormel in your ‘cruelty-free’ portfolio, or opioid producers, gambling, or fast food companies in your ‘social justice’ portfolio, what should you do? How exactly can investors ensure the companies they’re investing in actually align with their values?
The answer is simple – invest in a platform that is operated by an SRI-only investment firm. When you know for certain that 100% of a firm's assets under management (AUM) are values-aligned and managed by experts, you have a safety net not available with other robo-advisors.
One such firm is ours – Earth Equity. Founded in 2004 as one of the Southeast’s first SRI-only investment firms, we launched Earth Equity Align Digital in December of 2020 and, true to form, it’s one of the first entirely sustainable, responsible, and impact robo-advisors. Created and curated by SRI investing experts with nearly 20 years of experience, Align already has nearly $500k AUM and gives investors of all experience levels access to its investment universe of over 360 SRI stocks and green bonds that have been hand-selected by Earth Equity’s proprietary research and rigorous criteria (read: humans with values aligned with yours!).
With a minimum investment of $5,000, investors choose from four goals: saving for retirement, a major purchase, a child’s education, or simply building wealth. Within minutes, Align generates a fully customized portfolio based on a series of questions regarding your financial situation, risk tolerance, time frame, and impact preferences.
Investors can then further customize their portfolio with an emphasis on one or more of the following SRI themes: renewable energy, gender equality, and companies that are people-friendly, farm-friendly, and cruelty-free. In addition, investors can exclude all pharma or include cannabis companies. The result is a personalized, diverse, and well-balanced portfolio that gives investors who adhere to the recommendations a high chance of reaching their goals, while making the impact they want on our planet, society, and future.
Unlike our competitors, Earth Equity selects stocks with a positive investing philosophy, asking the question, “What do we want to own?” This allows us to prioritize alternative energy, green finance, sustainable real estate, and other industries with a net positive impact rather than just a neutral impact. Align investors can compare their performance to a wide selection of benchmarks, including the S&P 500.
The launch of Align has allowed us at Earth Equity to fulfill our vision of sustainable, responsible, and impact investing for all. So, if you have over $5,000 to invest and are looking to make a positive impact without having to do hours of research to ensure you’re not being greenwashed, take our questionnaire today and be the change you want to see in the world.