In our latest quarterly letter to clients, we take a close look at the origins and implications of the rapid growth in Sustainable Investing. These are strategies that incorporate non-financial criteria – e.g., ethical or environmental considerations – into investment selection decisions. SI strategies range from simple “do no harm” approaches (negative screening of morally offensive companies or industries) to the more hands-on and aspirational Impact Investing, in which investors target and fund specific environmental and social causes.
We think that, when thoughtfully-practiced, sustainable investing is becoming synonymous with smart investing. For long-term investors, the tradeoff between sustainability and return is now more apparent than real. Expanding one’s horizons to account for the likelihood that externalities will eventually ricochet back to the systems that produced them changes the investing equation in fundamental ways. Already, the costs of a deteriorating environment and society are becoming impossible for our natural systems to absorb quietly, and increasingly difficult for vested corporate and political interests to deny.
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Many of our clients have accumulated significant assets over a lifetime of hard work and good fortune. More assets than they will need to see them through a secure retirement-even on our conservative economic assumptions. More than they’d like to leave to their children, who they hope will chart a self-reliant course through life. For many, it is an embarrassment of riches. As we discuss with clients the question of “what it’s all for”-the money, the work, the meaning of their lives-the question of charitable giving frequently arises.
More often than not, our clients are unsure whether, when, and how to share what they’ve earned, outside the confines of established family relationships. They express that it’s easier to figure out how to earn money, than how to give it away. Our Q3 letter seeks to address that uncertainty by suggesting a framework within which to establish charitable giving priorities and consider one’s options. We do so by addressing a set of rhetorical questions-and offering some possible answers.
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