More Than Money
Issue #15

The Human Side of Investing

Table of Contents

“A Checklist (for those who want to get moving)”

Are you one of those people who sighs, "I really should move my assets into investments that could do more good, but...." Before you know it, a year has gone by, and you haven't found the time to look into it. Why not seize this moment to untangle the factors holding you back and choose a next step that sounds on-target and manageable? Next year you could be kicking back and toasting your progress.

"I don't know where to start."

  • Call Co-op America (see "Resources" below) and order their concise Financial Planning Handbook, which includes a list of financial professionals specializing in socially-responsible investing.
  • Decide on a managed experiment with a small percentage of your investments. Contact one of the organizations in the resource section for assistance.

 

"I'm worried about taking on greater risk and/or getting lower returns."

  • Call a financial planner today, or figure out on your own:
    • the income your investments must produce to meet your actual needs,
    • what assets and investments would produce that income,
    • how to manage your assets to meet your long-term goals. With this information, you will have a factual basis for making decisions about return, risk, and liquidity.
  • Reflect on what else holds you back from taking lower returns and/or greater risks: fear of family members judging you as "naive"? cautionary advice from your investment manager or accountant? What would you need to address your concerns?

 

"I'm not the one in charge."

  • Have a conversation with the people who are in charge of making investment decisions (e.g., parents, trustees), and express your interest in socially-responsible investing. Find out how open and knowledgeable they are about it. Listen to their concerns. Explore with them how, together, you could all find out more.
  • Think about how to meet your trustees' concerns. Could you ask them to read from a reputable journal about SRI, or invite a SRI professional to come address their questions?
  • Think about the influence (or potential influence) you may have over assets besides your own. Does your family have a foundation? Does your church or temple have an endowment, or your workplace have pension funds? With patience and persistence, you might affect how these are invested.

 

"I'm not sure it's worth the trouble."

  • Lessen the work. Start small. Have a family member or professional help implement some or all of the changes for you. Try to make the process fun (for instance, enlist your spouse or a friend; or join an investment club).
  • Increase your awareness of the need. Many of us live lives comfortably cushioned from the full reality of the collateral damage caused by "business as usual." We don't often live near toxic waste dumps, impoverished inner cities, clearcut tropical forests, or sweatshops. We aren't bullied by bosses or paid 31 cents an hour. It is important then to find creative ways to deepen your ties, and open your heart, to the people and land most harshly affected by traditional investment decisions. This can strengthen your resolve and energize your efforts to support life-loving alternatives.

 

To some people, preparing a meal is an odious chore. To others it is a pleasure; they savor the preparing as well as the eating. We invite you to explore how making money can bring satisfaction and value to you and to others-not only in how you use the money once it's made, but in the creative act of making it.

--Anne Slepian and Christopher Mogil, editors


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