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SRI Stock Options (Part 3)

Over the years, a fair number of my clients have rolled their eyes and slumped in their chairs when presented with so-called ‘ethical’ investment options. The institutions in Canada that market investments to the public…banks, credit unions, insurance companies, mutual funds…only a small fraction are vigorously responding to the Canadian public’s desire to rein in corporate behaviour. To make matters worse, I don’t think they see a buck in serving the Canadian market for socially responsible investment. So when measured against European and American markets, this is not exactly fertile ground for ethical investors.

If share ownership is something appropriate for a portion of your savings, but the thought of investing in a mutual fund that owns tailings ponds and slag heaps disturbs you, then I sympathize. But don’t despair. If you do your homework, you can still uncover alternatives Continue…

SRI Stock Options (Part 2)

Take it from someone who has focused on the subject for the last decade and then some. If you want to be a ‘socially responsible’ investor these days, there is little reason to feel enthused by what the financial industry has to offer.

BP, for example, has over the years appeared on many so-called ‘ethical’ investment lists. Why? Probably because they talked a great game about wind and solar and ‘Beyond Petroleum’, much better than Exxon at least. But the talk has since been exposed as mostly hot air. Continue…

SRI Stock Options (Part 1 in a Series)

The ongoing disaster in the Gulf of Mexico has brought a basic principle of SRI into clear focus. Companies that ignore environmental and social risks put their financial bottom line in peril. BP’s shares are on a downwards spiral and now worth half of their pre-spill value. The lower the share price falls, the better the lesson will be learned.

This leads me to be reading a prospectus for a long established Canadian Environment Fund. The company offers Continue…

Shades of Green

These are fascinating times for those of us working in the field of Socially Responsible Investment (SRI). The themes surrounding SRI have been evolving for almost 50 years now – from Ralph Nader’s fight on behalf of auto safety standards in the 60’s, to faith-based campaigns to divest from South African businesses in the 70’s, to the creation of investment management teams in the 80’s and 90’s that screened and engaged companies on behalf of the common values of shareholders.

Yet until very recently SRI was confined to the fringes of investment management, particularly here in Canada. Now there are shades and nuances that go beyond the original intent of influencing corporate behaviour, Continue…

More on MicroCredit

A break from stock talk this month, after all it’s the Christmas season, and thoughts turn to helping the less advantaged.

By now I’m sure just about everyone has heard of KIVA (www.kiva.org), the wildly successful organization that facilitates small loans to needy family businesses and entrepreneurs throughout the developing world.

Individual KIVA lenders do not receive any interest on their loans. Rather, we enter into these arrangements solely for the satisfaction of having given someone a boost in a business that strikes a chord with us. The internet has made this quick, easy and interactive.

Today there are scores of organizations involved in microlending. One of the very first on the scene, Continue…

Where money grows on trees

The investment landscape of the 21st century has become increasingly inhabited by short-term thinking – instant messaging, high-speed wireless stock flippers and day-trading speculators who must take their Blackberries to the beach in the summer so as not to miss a minute of the action. In this crazed quest for fast, easy money, the path is littered with losers – the occasional successes overshadow the more steady drip of losses, much as a gambler slowly going broke at the one-armed bandit.

But there are some investors who pay scant attention to the bungee-like stock market, patient enough to be able to filter or ignore the constant media barrage in order to remain focused on still far away goals. Many of these have found solace from the market frenzy by investing in trees, Continue…

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