Rational self-interest is at the heart of all investment strategies. The reason you invest your money is that you care about your own future. However, that does not necessarily mean you don’t care about everyone else.
Unfortunately, with traditional investment portfolios, investing wisely for your future often involves turning a blind eye to everyone’s future. It means throwing capital at companies that do things you might not like, such as polluting the environment or exploiting hard-working families, simply because they are likely to make you money.
Of course, some people choose to practice what’s known as Socially Responsible Investing, or SRI. Broadly speaking, SRI is any investment strategy that seeks to effect positive change by taking financial returns and collective goods into the equation. But the trick with SRI has always been finding companies that really have an impact and also manage to grow your investment. There are a lot of ambitious, well-meaning firms out there that simply don’t stand a chance of succeeding. If you’re a rich philanthropist, you can afford to take risks and lose some money. But for most people, that’s not a realistic option.
Luckily there’s a new investment firm that’s taking the guesswork out of Socially Responsible Investing. That firm is Swell, and they make it possible for anyone to align their personal financial needs with the greater good by investing in for-profit companies that try to make our world a better place.
Swell specializes in what they call “impact investing.” They believe the big problems our world faces today will create the leading industries of tomorrow. Their team of experienced financial advisers starts by identifying these problems. Then they identify companies that are trying to come up with innovative solutions. Next, Swell analyzes the financial health, valuation, and assets of these companies to determine whether or not they actually derive revenue from their attempts at positive environmental or social impact. Finally, after vetting thousands of companies, Swell curates a list of high-impact, high-growth firms with a proven track record of solving problems. This extensive process results in seven different thematic investment portfolios geared toward SRI:
The Renewable Energy Portfolio includes 65 companies working to develop alternative energies sources such as wind turbines and solar panels.
The Green Tech Portfolio has 42 companies working to develop everything from electric cars to LED lighting.
The Disease Eradication Portfolio has 68 companies that focus on things like immunization and epidemiology research.
The Clean Water Portfolio has 42 companies working on water filters and the global potability crisis.
The Zero Waste Portfolio has 37 companies promoting waste reduction and bring innovations to the recycling industry.
The Healthy Living Portfolio has 50 companies focused on nutrition and health centers.
The Impact 400 Portfolio has 400 companies that have proven to be the most impactful across all sectors of the stock market.
As an investor, you can choose any combination of these portfolios based on your financial and social impact goals. You can also tailor any portfolio to your specific needs, removing companies that don’t align with your values. In short, you have control over what you own and why you own it.
But the best part about Swell—aside from actively promoting the changes you want to see in the world—is that you can actually afford it. If you invest $500, Swell’s investment services will cost you just $3.75 per year. Invest $10,000 and it will cost you just $75 per year.
That’s a pretty small price to pay for peace of mind and a clear conscience, don’t you think?
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