What is the difference between ESG investing and socially responsible investing?

Why do you invest? Is it to make money? Do you want to earn the highest returns possible and cash out someday with an enormous sum of cash? Or do you want to invest with your heart, putting your money toward companies that align with your values and beliefs? If the latter sounds more appealing, then socially responsible investing (SRI) may be right for you. But if you’re on the hunt for an effective way to put your money toward good causes—without sacrificing investment gains—you might consider ESG investing or Environmental, Social, and Governance investing.

SRI vs. ESG – Key Difference

What is the difference between ESG investing and socially responsible investing? Investors should know a few key differences between these two types of investing. One big difference is that while socially responsible investments focus on companies that are doing well by meeting certain social or environmental standards, ESGs only require companies to perform well financially. In other words, SRI investors want companies to do right by society and the environment, while ESG investors only care about those companies’ financials.

Socially Responsible Investments vs. greenwashing

There are many differences between socially responsible investing and environmental, social, and governance investing. Still, it all boils down to one thing: do you want your investment to have a positive impact on society or not?

ESG investing is about making money for your financial future while also doing good in the world by investing in companies that positively contribute to society without considering return on investment. 

On the other hand, socially responsible investors are looking to invest their money into companies that they feel will positively impact society without regard for how much they can make from them financially.

ESG Investment Strategies

ESG investing (environmental, social, and governance investing) has been on the rise in recent years. There are two main types of ESG investing that differ primarily in how they invest in companies and what they invest in: active and passive. Active investments are when an investor buys stocks, for example, hoping to make a profit if those stocks increase in value. Passive investments are when an investor invests with a company like Calvert Investments or Pax World Funds. They will then look at various factors from environmental stewardship to corruption to rank companies based on their performance on those factors and then allocate your money accordingly for you automatically within a defined investment strategy.

Excessive Fees

Fees can be a huge expense for any investment portfolio. Still, socially responsible investments tend to have higher fees than other funds, making them more expensive than traditional mutual funds or ETFs (Exchange Traded Funds). For example, it is not uncommon for socially responsible funds to charge an annual management fee of 1% or more. In contrast, many standard index and exchange-traded funds may only charge about 0.5%.


Examples of SRI/ESG Mutual Funds

Socially responsible investment is a company that invests in other companies that meet certain values, like environmentalism and sustainability. Examples include companies that invest in solar power or wind energy production, those that make environmentally-friendly products, and firms committed to animal welfare.

ESG investing stands for environmental, social, and governance issues, which investors consider when deciding what to buy or sell stocks of companies to minimize risk and maximize profitability. Companies with high-quality management practices (high governance) will be more attractive to investors; investors will also prefer industries with lower risks (low emissions); good corporate citizenship activities can lead to higher valuations for shareholders.

The Future Of SRI/ESG Investing

Research has shown a growing interest in investing responsibly, with Socially Responsible Investing (SRI) or Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) becoming mainstream. The SRI/ESG movement is not just about economic performance but also social and environmental performance. It is now seen as an alternative to other investing methods such as Fundamental Indexing or Momentum strategies that focus more on momentum than social good.

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There are some fundamental differences between these two types of investments, and investors need to be aware of them to make an informed decision about where to put their money. Both approaches have their benefits, and as you look at your portfolio holistically, you might find that one or both of these options will work for you.

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