Environmental, social and governance investing is taking the world by storm. And that’s a good thing.
Whether you call it sustainable, conscious, impact, ethical, values-based, or simply ESG investing, companies, agencies, and organizations are now announcing their adoption of ESG practices. Investors wanting to learn more have access to many educational platforms and tools online.
But it can also feel overwhelming. Some individual investors might not know where to start or what source to go to. Fortunately, several organizations are now offering courses to learn about ESG investing.
One such educational platform is The Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment (USSIF). Among the many things this non-profit organization offers is a free online course for individual investors seeking to understand what sustainable investing really means.
The course is a series of slides and modules that one can take in just 30 minutes. It explains in simple terms what sustainable investing means. It also points individual investors to where they can find information about ESG efforts put forth by companies they own or plan to invest in. And it shows you the data to back up their claims too.
“Sustainable investing has grown rapidly in recent years, with assets under professional management in the United States increasing 42 percent from $12 trillion to $17.1 trillion between 2018 and 2020,” stated Michael Young in the course. “Institutional investors (which includes pension funds, endowments, mutual funds, and insurance companies) account for most of this activity, as they have ready access to sustainable investment professional expertise, networks, and associations. This means that assets in sustainable investment products or strategies account for one out of every three dollars of professionally managed assets.”
While professional investors have had the privilege of having easy access to ESG tools, now there’s also more and more information geared toward individual investors, such as this course.
For example, it provides a list of links where an investor can get more info on issues such as human rights, equality index, best companies to work for, how companies perform when it comes to customers, communities, the environment, as well as their response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
You will also learn where to find ESG shareholder resolutions that companies have been asked to publish. The course provides seven links to organizations where you can get comprehensive data on resolutions including political spending, environment, diversity, human rights, and governance. And the course teaches you why today your proxy vote counts more than ever.
The program then delves into mutual funds and exchange-traded funds. You will learn where to find ESG ratings for funds and what they’re all about.
The course also refers investors to online lists of specific ESG funds, such as those that avoid investment in deforestation, tobacco, or companies that show bad scores on gender equality.
The great thing is that this program simplifies your search by bringing all the practical elements of ESG investing in one, simple online course.
After covering stocks and funds, you can also learn about your sustainable investment options in retirement accounts. What better way than to invest in the future of your kids and our planet?
You will also find info on how to help the community you live in by participating in various local endeavors. Your money can make a difference not only in your investment portfolio but also by directing it to projects that sponsor various ESG issues.
Finally, you will learn how to select the right investment professional for your needs and what questions to ask. Again, several links to online services are provided.
“To ensure your sustainable investments are appropriate for your age, investment objectives, risk tolerance, and return expectations, you may want to enlist the assistance of a financial advisor,” explained Young in the course.