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Investing your cash is all about making money, right? When you’re pouring over the rise and fall of the markets and picking out the best ASX 200 futures you just want to spot something that will make those dollars multiply.

But what about where your money goes? Do you ever worry about the stocks and shares that you own? Does it matter to you if they have a good environmental record or if they have a commitment to do something ‘good’?

Plenty of people do. Indeed, funds that are either ethical or ‘responsible’ have quadrupled in size over the past three years to top $620 billion. The good news is that not only are these funds proving popular, but in many cases they’re also keeping pace with mainstream investment vehicles, as Business Insider notes.

There’s a range of choice for the ethical investor too – depending on their priorities. If you want to invest in universities or educational establishments you can, equally you can pick companies with a green ethos or who promote and invest in renewables.

At the same time, investing in fossil fuels has taken a downward turn – while tobacco, gambling and human rights issues are all things that can cause investors to think twice about where they put their money.

Simon O’Connor, CEO of the Responsible Investment Association Australasia, said: “More and more Australians are wanting their investments and savings to align with their values, and are reaping the rewards with strong financial performance.”

“The market is recognising the opportunities to create value for clients, with a surge in responsible investment products over the past year, including many focused on delivering positive social or environmental impact.”

It’s soon likely that this will stop being seen as a ‘niche’ investment, and be seen alongside more mainstream investment methods.

Phil Vernon, managing director of Australian Ethical, which oversees just over $2 billion, said the success of ethical investment show that you don’t have to lose out financially by choosing to invest your money in this way.

He told ABC: “The company’s been going for 30 years. The track record of our Australian Ethical shares fund has been going for over 20 years and it’s returned about 10 per cent per annum over that period. [That] is about 3 per cent more than the market that we benchmark against.”

Australian Ethical doesn’t invest in coal, oil or gas – choosing to focus on renewables, companies promoting energy efficiency and those which are involved in recycling. It also opts for those in healthcare – although is careful when it comes to the development of drugs which involves animal testing.

While, typically, ethical funds carry higher fees to reflect the work that goes into making the ‘right’ choices, the growth of renewables and future technologies means that more and more options are opening up. That and an increasing awareness of ethical investing and the benefits it brings all paint a positive picture for the future of this form of investment.

Karen McLeod, owner of Ethical Investment Advisers, summed up the trend, saying: “People are demanding more choice which is great. People want to make a profit but they’d prefer to be enriching the world.”

That sort of progress is surely cause for celebration?

 

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