What is Impact Investing and How Can You Get Started?

What is impact investing? Think of it as “Values Investing” or “Socially Responsible investing”. Or when it comes down to it, investing in companies that think as you do.

1. First, define what you mean by impact investing, what does it mean to you? Are you concerned about social issues, environmental or religious issues? Are you interested in medical or pharmaceutical companies? Do you support firearms? No matter what your interests are, there are stocks or mutual funds to fit your values.

2. Second, find an advisor that will listen to what interests you. If the first words out of their mouths are, “You can’t make money doing that!” Find someone who says, “I think we can find something to align with your values.” There are plenty of choices, and they are getting better all the time. Costs have come down and many are actively participating in the companies they hold as activist shareholders.

3. Third, after defining what you mean and finding the right advisor then start paying attention to the annual shareholder materials and proxy voting. The more active you are in learning about the funds you hold the more aware you can be about what you are supporting. Too many people invest in a fund thinking it is socially responsible, only to find out later it wasn’t what they thought it to be. An educated and open-minded advisor can help you before you invest.

Nothing is perfect, but you can feel good about the choices you are making and still invest wisely. It takes a little time and devotion but can be rewarding as well.