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Often investing focuses mainly on profits and returns. However, return doesn’t just have to be about the amount of money you earn. It can be about making a difference in the world you live in. Studies show helping others and charitable giving are two keys to lasting happiness and personal growth.

Some of us choose to make a difference and help others in the way we invest. This type of investment strategy is known as socially responsible investing. Socially responsible investing supports companies and organizations with strong environmental, social, and governance (ESG) practices.

It could mean that you invest in an energy fund that solely invests in companies using renewable resources or a biotechnology company entirely dedicated to curing a rare form of cancer. Being a socially responsible investor also means that you avoid investing in certain types of companies such as “The Big Three.”

What are the “The Big Three” Investment choices most avoid in SRI?

Divesting from controversial positions, like tobacco companies, is not as simple as selling the stock. Divesting from these investment choices may often mean getting rid of mutual funds that include controversial stocks. For example, there are several tobacco, oil, and gun stocks included in S&P 500. Interestingly though, economists have found that these stocks outperform other stocks by 2.5% per year. The argument against divesting from these positions is that it hurts overall portfolio diversification. In turn, it could limit future investment returns.

“The Big Three,” tobacco, oil, and guns, are typically considered the most controversial investment choices. Many state-run funds are in the process of divesting funds out of controversial industries.

In California, the public employees’ retirement system divested from tobacco and cost the state an estimated $2-3 billion in lost potential investment revenue.

The mayor of New York City proposed to divest nearly $5 billion out of fossil fuel stocks. This is expected to cost New York City $1.5 billion. While divesting from certain stocks may be the morally right thing to do, it can jeopardize retirees’ money across the country.

Is “The Big Three” becoming & the rules for a company to be the “The Big Four”?

Studies have shown that parts of the plant may be medically useful, like for the treatment of seizures. You don’t have to look hard to find medical marijuana patients who say their life has been greatly improved by cannabis.  

We are often asked if marijuana will become number four. Though legal for recreation or medical purposes in some states, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) considers cannabis a Schedule I drug. According to the DEA, there are no currently accepted medical benefits and a high potential for abuse.

Given this definition added to the SP 500, it is unlikely a “pot stock” will be added anytime soon. Despite their lack of inclusion on major stock indexes, cannabis stocks still garner attention. When considering the morality of investing in cannabis, there is no clear answer.

It’s often said that cannabis is not as deadly as tobacco. It’s also safe to say that legalizing marijuana won’t create world peace. Whether you consider cannabis a socially responsible investment boils down to personal beliefs, convictions, and morals.

Whether your current portfolio strategy includes investing in companies with strong environmental, social, and governmental practices, or to make an impact in the future, the Means Team can guide you every step of the way. We help you to choose investments that support the change you want to see in the world.

Means Wealth Management prepared this information for general information purposes only and is not intended to predict or guarantee future market performance. Data contained herein from third-party providers is obtained from reliable sources. However, its accuracy, completeness, or reliability cannot be guaranteed.
This information is not intended to act as individualized tax, legal, financial, or investment advice. Please consult a qualified attorney or tax professional for individualized legal or tax advice. Please contact a financial advisor for specific information regarding your individualized financial and investment planning needs.