Nuts and Bolts
1) Educate yourself about responsible investment
Check out the RIAA (Responsible Investment Association Australasia) website for starters. And even just Google ‘Responsible Investment’ or ‘Ethical Investment’ – you’ll find lots of links to information about this growing area of investment.
2) Decide on your ‘ethical profile’
What are the issues that are of concern to you? Is it the environment? Animal welfare? Have a look at the websites listed in ethical issues to help you out. Once you’ve decided upon that you can focus on finding funds or companies who meet your criteria for investment.
3) Find a fund manager
If you’re interested in making a responsible investment, try Australian Ethical or Future Super, or to park your cash (or take out a mortgage) try Bank Australia or Bendigo Bank (both with strong social/environmental policies).
For more information about a particular managed or superannuation fund log onto a site such as CommSec or and download a prospectus from the fund managers you’re interested in (if available) – you’ll soon see which industries and companies they include in their investment mix. Don’t be scared to contact a fund manager directly if you have any questions – the more informed you are before you make your investment the better!
4) Investing in shares
If you’re interested in investing in the sharemarket, research companies as widely as you can. Start by checking out their website and annual report and also see if they feature on Crikey.
Have a look at the Ethical Investor website – it includes tables that provide socially responsible investment (SRI) ratings on 250 major listed public companies in Australia as well as a detailed analysis of SRI funds. You have to pay to access this information – full details on the Ethical Investor website. You can also sign up for a free e-newsletter.
Find out more about investing in shares.
5) Ask for help: find a financial adviser
If you’re after a financial adviser in your part of Australia who specialises in ethical investment – someone who can align your values with your financial goals – try the Responsible Investment Association Australasia. Experts often suggest you find an adviser who charges by the hour instead of receiving a commission.
The final word
Lastly, think about questioning EVERYONE. If you hear that your bank might be funding a controversial project, write to them and tell them how you feel about it. Understand that you have the power to make positive change but it’s up to you to do something about it.
Yes, it’s the official website of Al Gore, former US Vice President and author of An Inconvenient Truth. Read about his latest environmental projects and follow his journal. Inspiring stuff.
Crikey is an online watchdog – could be useful if you’re looking for dirt on any company or institution… just type their name into the advanced search box and see if anything comes up.
Particularly good if you’re interested in buying shares on the Australian sharemarket and want to invest responsibly. Be warned – you have to pay to access the full website, including the table providing socially responsible investment ratings on 250 major listed public companies and an analysis of SRI funds.
Read about the United Nation’s Principles for Responsible Investment – the website includes links to interesting articles about responsible investment.
How Good are You? by Julian Lee (2008, William Heinemann, Random House)
With a great chapter on responsible investing entitled ‘How do I know I am not financing an evil empire?‘ this book has timely advice on clean living in a dirty world.
The Ethical Investor by Anne-Marie Spagnolo (2007, Penguin Books)
An excellent introduction to ethical investment. The Ethical Investor delves into the history of responsible investment, helps you create your own ethical profile and looks at the practical aspects of becoming a responsible investor.
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