I often have difficulty communicating the benefit of socially responsible investments (SRI). There’s definitely a feel-good element from ‘doing less evil’, but I always felt compelled to measure it. In an attempt to quantify the impact of SRI in Canada, I decided to compare the sustainability scores of companies in the traditional S&P/TSX 60 Index with the scores of companies in the more responsible Jantzi Social Index (JSI). The results were disappointing. The weighted score of the S&P/TSX 60 is 65.86, while the Jantzi Social Index scored only marginally better at 68.03.
Later today I'll be presenting at the Go Fossil Free divestment convergence at McGill University. Students from Universities across the country have converged in Montreal to share learnings and get inspired to keep pushing their schools' endowments to divest from fossil fuels. Here is my presentation on Strategies for Divestment & Reinvestment:
On September 21st, I joined more than 400,000 people in New York City for the People’s Climate March. It was a remarkable experience. Marching was great, but the best was stopping to watch the stream of people pass by. It was so inspiring to see so many different people, from so many different places. Although each person had their own reasons for showing up, we were united in a clear voice for climate justice.
Lingering from the experience is a strong sense of hope. Hope that there will be enough leaders in time. Hope that we will avoid the worst case scenarios of climate catastrophe. Hope that an economic transition is coming. Here’s why I’m optimistic:
The Centre for Social Innovation (CSI) is a co-working space founded in 2004. I joined in 2009 as an aspiring social entrepreneur out to transform the world of finance, and in doing so, found my home in Toronto.
‘The Home That Community Bonds Built’. That’s what I like to call the big red building at 720 Bathurst Street in Toronto. People are always asking me to define social enterprise or quantify the impact on a community bond. Instead, I simply invite them to come visit CSI Annex and join me for a beverage in The Coffee Pub. A quick tour of the building, and they get it. When I tell them it was financed through a community bond, their jaw hits the floor as they start to understand the potential for community finance to change the world.
CSI is looking to buy another building in Toronto, and is expected to issue another round of community bonds soon. Anyone interested in investing can contact Leah Pollock leah[at]socialinnovation.ca.
I love clients who push me towards new ideas in sustainable investment. Currently, I’m working with a lovely couple in Toronto who hold the honour of being my ‘deepest’ green clients so far. They are adamant that not a single dollar be invested in fossil fuels, and won’t tolerate any banks who themselves hold investments in coal, oil, and natural gas. I can’t, in good conscience, let them lose out on the strong financial returns and diversification benefits that come with exposure to the financial sector. So I got creative within these constraints, and here’s what I’ve come up with:
The solar industry has been getting lots of positive news lately. An election in India has brought in a new government with the ambitious vision of deploying enough solar energy to ensure at least one lightbulb in every home by 2019. At the same time, the Chinese government is taking a hard turn towards renewables as air pollution chokes their cities and population. The new plan will triple their solar capacity to 70 gigawatts by 2017.
For Canadians who made the RRSP deadline this year, the question now becomes "How should I invest my rebate?"
Here are 3 smart strategies that are both RRSP and TFSA eligible to enhance your portfolio and invest in companies that are good for the environment:
As the clock ticked midnight and we entered 2014, I decided it was a good time to review the financial performance of my model portfolios. I’m happy to report that 2013 was a great year for sustainable investment strategies, with each of my model portfolios doing about as well or better than its traditional benchmark. The following table presents annual Net Asset Value (NAV) returns from Morningstar on Jan. 6, 2014:
I've been getting lots of emails lately from people who want to divest their personal investments from fossil fuels.
Here's how to do it:
1. Learn about online investing here and here
2. Open an online brokerage account
3. Transfer your RRSP / TFSA into this account
4. Meet with a financial planner and develop a portfolio like this one
5. Execute the trades
Congratulations! You are the now the proud owner of a fossil fuel free portfolio!!