Shortly before speaking at the recent San Francisco Green Festival, I found myself standing under a large model of Planet Earth and the words “Too big too fail.” I was asked to write on a dry erase board what I believed was too big to fail.
It was a clever festival/Facebook campaign to get us to imagine what in our own lives matters so deeply that we will not allow its failure, just like our planet. Many of us choose to invest in its vitality with our efforts to reduce, reuse, and recycle, but there are publicly traded green companies, devoted to alternative fuels for example, that we can choose to invest in by buying stock. Decisive Latino asked me to help you find them.
At the festival, I met representatives from Calvert Investments who termed the company, a “leader in Sustainable and Responsible Investing (SRI).” When corporate folks introduce themselves as industry leaders, I am typically dubious. But when I asked my friend, Emily Bouchard, a family, wealth, and money coach at the Wealth Legacy Group in the San Francisco Bay area, to recommend resources for me, Calvert was one of two she sent my way. As Emily shared her recommendations, she also reminded me about due diligence and what gets in the way.
"When looking at doing something new with your money, familiar patterns of behavior can show up,” she cautioned. “Know that your ‘innocent’ money persona may feel overwhelmed and attempt to derail your good intentions, by avoiding doing what's uncomfortable and unknown. That's when seeking out sound advice and getting recommendations from trusted and experienced advisors will make you feel much more competent."
As we begin the New Year, you may have financial goals you want to achieve. One of mine that you may share reads, “Invest x percent of retirement funds in sustainable, greener investments and organizations.” To that end, here are key questions to ask to help you prepare to invest:
• What percent of your portfolio are you looking to invest in SRI?
• Are you looking to invest in established SRI mutual funds like those managed by Calvert and others?
• Are you on the leading edge of SRI and looking for ways to invest in Certified B Corporations (companies with a social agenda) as more come into existence?
• Are you looking at established, publicly traded corporations already in your portfolio and reevaluating investment decisions based on their corporate sustainability initiatives and benchmarks?
• Are you looking to separate the truly green companies from the “green washers” (fakes) before you invest? The Internet offers many sites, like www.greenerchoices.org, that can help steer you in the right direction.
• How much reading do you want to do before you invest in entities that function as if our planet matters?
As you answer these questions, you’ll be well on your way to narrowing down how you want to start and where you want to put your first chunks of money. Sitting down with a financial advisor after you have achieved this first clarity will undoubtedly make it easier for you to go from wanting to invest in greener, more socially responsible entities, to actually becoming an investor in 2012.