Sustainability: Investing

When you go to Grand River Financial Partners for assistance, owner Terri Hickman wants to create the perfect match between your investments and financial goals. If that equation involves socially responsible investing, Hickman is more than happy to help.

“Integrating your personal, social, and environmental concerns with your financial considerations is called socially responsible investing (SRI). SRI helps you meet your financial goals while ensuring that your investments have a positive impact on people and the planet,” according to Green America.

Grand River provides independent financial consultation not tied to a certain group of investment choices. Hickman said one of the nice aspects of being independent is the ability to easily offer any number of SRI products.

During consultation, Hickman introduces the option of socially responsible investing so you can make an informed choice and provides education as needed.

Grand River offers securities through LPL Financial, the largest independent broker/dealer in the country. Focused on supporting financial advisors in offering unbiased, conflict-free advice, LPL even has a platform for socially responsible investing.

Prevailing wisdom used to be that socially responsible investing lagged in returns but the Domini 400 Social Index, launched in 1990, debunked that myth. The index tracks the performance of selected socially responsible investments and quantifies returns for comparison to other financial indices such as the Standard & Poor’s 500.

Socially responsible investing can involve choosing what type of companies you do not want in your portfolio and then divesting of those companies. For example, you may not want your money used by companies producing alcohol, tobacco or weapons or that have a bad track record with human rights. Conversely, you may want to choose funds that work in a positive manner, investing in a particular area such as green energy.

Some investment companies, including Calvert, Pax World and Parnassus, offer only socially responsible investing products, while other companies include socially responsible investment funds in the mix.

Locally, socially responsible investing can be complicated by the fact that not all large employers in the valley offer socially responsible investment options in their 401(k) plans.

Hickman’s interest in socially responsible investing expanded during the process of building her office, which opened in February 2010. After repeatedly being told, “You can’t do a commercial building this way,” Hickman and her husband finally ended up in the capable hands of green builder Sam Williams.

The result is a green office building with solar panels and an envelope so tight it required an air exchange system. Hickman said utility costs for the office are “incredibly low” and considerably less than for her home.

The office creates little trash due to an effective recycling program. Clients are even encouraged to elect e-delivery to reduce waste.

“Most people care about the future, but just don’t know what to do,” Hickman said. Socially responsible investing is not always on the radar screen, but it is a way to make a difference. “I wish more people would give it a thought.”

Change is a given and as your life changes so do your financial needs. Retirement is a huge adjustment because after years of saving it is time for you to use that money. Hickman can serve as an experienced guide during this complex process. You can reach Grand River by calling 242-7100.

You can also learn more about socially responsible investing at http://www.greenamerica.org by clicking on the Social Investing pull-down menu.

I was excited to find a financial company in Grand Junction involved with socially responsible investing. If your local financial advisors offer socially responsible investing options, send me an e-mail to let me know.

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Adele Israel is a Grand Junction writer who has been involved in sustainability efforts for some 20 years. Have a question or column idea for Adele? E-mail her at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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