Sustainable Fund Managers of Interest

A sampling of some of the better-known firms in sustainable investing

Many asset management firms focus on socially responsible investing. They develop environmental, social and ethical screens to select companies in which to invest. They also have expertise in community investing and shareholder activism. Here's a sampling of some respected firms in the field.

Access Capital Strategies

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Access Capital was one of the early developers of secondary markets for community development investments. This fund manager practices what has in effect become a new field of investing often referred to as Impact Investing, which is most often investing in services which provide access to healthcare, education and housing to less well off communities, valued at less than $100 Billion of total assets by JPMorgan's Eyes on the Horizon report earlier this year.

Access Capital manages the Access Capital Community Investment Fund, which invests over $500 Million in debt securities that support community development activities in areas targeted by investors. Located at 155 Federal St #1600, Boston, MA 02110. (617) 236-7274

Boston Common Asset Management

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Boston Common Asset Management, founded by the well respected Geeta Aiyer, is a full-service social investment firm that seeks sustainable, long-term capital appreciation by investing in socially-responsible enterprises and participates in shareholder activism.

Boston Common manages over $2 billion in assets, including sub-advised accounts, across a diverse offering of investment strategies. Located at 84 State Street, Suite 940, Boston, MA 02109 (617) 720-5557

Calvert Investments

Calvert is a longstanding diversified investment management firm serving individual and institutional investors. It offers dozens of equity and fixed income mutual funds, 529 college savings plans, and helped give birth to the community focused Calvert Foundation.

The most recognized SRI brand, Calvert however is no longer the largest family of mutual funds in the U.S. that feature integrated environmental, social, and governance research.  Calvert recently laid off much of its staff, and has $12.4 Billion in asset under management, down from roughly $15 Billion a few years ago, as the firm struggles to gain assets in an era of more SRI offerings, and a shift to value focused investment products garnering more assets such as Generation and Parnassus, even though many of its funds have performed well over the past 10 years.

Located in Bethesda, MD (301) 951-4800.

Clean Yield Group

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Founded in 1984, Clean Yield seeks to help their clients meet their long-term financial goals while making a positive difference in the world.

They build custom portfolios that actively channel investment dollars toward developing a more just and environmentally sustainable economy, and find that personal values and successful investing are compatible.

Located in Norwich, VT  (802) 526-2525

Parnassus Investments

San Francisco-based Parnassus has become the largest socially responsible firm in the United States on the back of becoming the only Large Cap Value SRI fund outperforming over a significant period.   

Their flagship Parnassus Core Equity Fund alone has $13 Billion of assets and is up an average of 10.2% over the last 10 years, while over the same period the S&P 500 was up about 7.5%.  

Parnassus's 4 main funds listed here are all at the top of the SRI list as regards 10 year performance, giving them the strongest performance record in the US, so it is no surprise they have become the largest investor by size.

Ariel Investments

Another large US SRI fund manager emphasizing value is Chicago-based Ariel Investments, which $9.6 Billion of assets. Aside from Parnassus and Calvert, Ariel Appreciation Fund is the other US SRI fund that has outperformed the S&P 500 over the past 10 years.

It is interesting to see the value focused SRI funds perform so well financially over recent times, while the more negative approaches did less well.

Trillium Asset Management

Trillium has been active in socially responsible investing for 25 years. The firm is guided by the belief that “active investing can offer good returns to the investor, while also promoting social and economic justice.” 

Future Direction of SRI in the USA

Watch for a continued top-down, bottom-up race to create the most sustainable funds, with the competition increasing due to accelerated interest, and the winners will be those who do best on financial performance.