Impact Investing: Why Your Values Matter | Net Impact

Impact Investing: Why Your Values Matter

By Stefan Pagacik

No matter whether you invest actively with an advisor or do it yourself through an online brokerage or roboadvisor, what matters to you should influence how and where you invest every dollar of what you earn and save. Other than family and friends, there is nothing more personal than the choices you make to buy products or services and/or invest in companies, mutual funds, ETFs, bonds and other investment options. And yet we tend to forget what matters most to us in making these decisions. Our thought process is often clouded by advice and ads coming at us from all sides telling us about what is best for us both in the short term and longer time horizons.

Fact is if you haven't taken the time to truly think about and prioritize what you value, you are doing yourself and the investment community a disservice. Now more than ever, we are presented with a dizzying array of choices but very little attention is paid to individual preferences and values. You know best what you care about; why aren't you making it part of your decisionmaking process as to where you put your money? Never before has there been a shift in power from those who manage money to those who choose where to put that money. Would you buy a dress or a piece of furniture if it didn't fit and exactly matched your personal preferences for color, materials, how it was made and where? How long would you put up with family members or your boss ignoring what you had to say or telling you what to think, eat, wear, etc…?

As an example, I have a good friend who is 28, married and an entrepreneur. She recently told me that she would never invest or buy from a company that made or had anything to do with opiods. Her investment boycott would also include mutual funds and ETF's that had any association with companies that realized a profit from opiods. This guiding principle is so important to her that it would be a non-starter for any drug or associated company or fund to approach her with investor materials asking her to buy shares of the company or fund. And while her stance is admirable, it becomes even more powerful when it is communicated to these companies and funds so that they know why she has turned away from them. 

This is not a pipe dream; it's real and happening right now and you have the ability to not only participate but engage in a way that fundamentally alters how companies and fund managers behave and respond to shifting impact themes and personal values.

Bottom line: what matters to you should matter to them. If it doesn't, vote with your pocketbook or wallet and let this community know you aren't satisfied that they have ignored what is fundamental to who you are in the world. That should be your starting point for evaluating how best to allocate your hard earned capital, either as an investment or a spending decision.

Stefan Pagacik is the co-founder and Director of Marketing for my4, a financial technology and data firm that focuses on helping individual retail investors and institutions construct portfolios based on sustainable data and impact 'themes' that include but are not limited to: public equities, mutual funds, ETFs and bonds. Follow him on Twitter: @StefanMy4Score