Having Impact Through Your Portfolio

Contributed by: Show Editorial Team

Millennials are popularizing ethical investing 

Jackie Vanderbrug, Head of Impact Investing for Bank of America on capital market, alternative and impact investing with Matt Bird at Greenwich Economic Forum (Greenwich, CT)

When Millennials buy Fair Trade coffee or zero-waste shampoo, they are making a statement about their identity and their values. And as Millennials start to control more and more wealth, ethical investing will become a larger segment of the market, according to Jackie Vanderbrug. 

“Millennials are saying this is the way we want to invest for our future, both because we think it’s best for the planet that we want to live on, but also because we think it’s the best way to get long-term returns,” Vanderbrug, Managing Director and Head of Sustainable and Impact Investment Strategies at Bank of America, told the Traders Network Show at the 2019 Greenwich Economic Forum.   

Vanderbrug said the core themes driving ethical investment are climate and the environment, inclusion issues, and community and local investment. She said Millennials tend to care more than members of previous generations about whether a company’s values align with their own. This, in turn, shapes the conversations that financial institutions like Bank of America have with their customers. Vanderbrug said ethical investment decisions with clients are all about the ABCs: Avoid, Benefit, Contribute. 

“So what do you want to avoid? And do you want to do that because of values or because of risk? What are the values that you want to have in the world? How do you see corporations benefitting communities, employees and their customers? And then where is that contribute piece? How do you want your investments to contribute to achieving our collective vision?” she said. 

Vanderbrug said people’s answers to these questions have started to shift. What originated as investment decisions to avoid backing industries like, say, fossil fuels, which some investors may be averse to because of ethical reasons, have transitioned toward investments that can bring about improvement. And investments that were once mostly about benefit have taken the next step to becoming investments that can truly contribute to society, she said.  

“Now we are realizing that these are conversations that you want to have with every client,” Vanderbrug said. “Do you want to have the power to have impact through your portfolio?”

(Written by Andrew Waite; Editing and revisions by Nicole Liddy)

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