Investing in Socially Good is Finally Becoming Profitable


by James Lange, CPA/Attorney 

The headline above is not my own. It was literally ripped from the pages of The New York Times from an article published on August 29th. Just a few weeks earlier on August 12th, I had co-hosted my first webinar about socially responsible and environmentally sustainable investing.

I’ve been interested in impact investing (a blanket term used to describe environmentally conscious and socially responsible investing) for a long time. But, like many other investors, I’d always assumed that impact investing, while good for the planet, would force investors to accept a smaller return with additional risk.

I’d never done much research about the opportunities available in this arena of investing. But I started hearing more buzz about sustainable and socially responsible investing from advisors I respect discussing comparable returns on investments.

I was intrigued and did research. I’m a huge fan of Dimensional Fund Advisors (DFA) because I believe they have developed the best set of enhanced index funds on the planet. And I knew that Dimensional has designed mutual funds to meet the growing demand for socially screened and sustainability investments, so I decided to start there.

I took a hard look at the historical performance of DFA’s sustainable and socially screened funds, and the data was impressive. As it turns out, historical returns on portfolios built using DFA’s socially responsible and sustainable funds have consistently equaled or even exceeded those of comparably allocated portfolios built using more traditional funds without additional risks.

Learning that there are real opportunities for low-cost index investors to incorporate impact investments into their portfolios without necessarily taking a financial hit in the process was a bit of a shocker for me.

At the moment most people, myself included, would say that the most urgent problem facing our country and the world community at large is the COVID-19 pandemic and that eliminating or controlling the virus is the most important goal that we should be working toward. But, in the big picture, I believe that global warming is truly mankind’s greatest challenge.

Forest fires are nothing new, but the Union of Concerned Scientists have stated “While fire is a natural and essential part of these ecosystems, warming temperatures and drying soils—both tied to human-caused climate change—have contributed to observed increases in wildfire activity.”

The forest fires raging across the western United States have, among other things, temporarily displaced many people from their homes, decimated tens of thousands of acres of forest that, according to researchers, may never grow back, and exposed millions to unhealthy and even hazardous air quality. But, sadly, these real and severe consequences pale in comparison to those that are yet to come if we continue to do little to address global warming.

The environmental ravages of global warming have already rendered many communities uninhabitable and if nothing is done to limit the emission of greenhouse gases, entire regions of the world will follow suit. Millions upon millions of people will be displaced and global food supplies will be decimated. This isn’t just an environmental issue, it’s an existential threat to humanity.

Given the gravity and urgency of this threat, many of us want to do something. And while government policies are important, sustainable investing provides us as individual investors with the opportunity to make a meaningful contribution. And, if, as the historical data tells us, making impact investments won’t necessarily cost us any money, it makes sense to consider more sustainable investments.

With that in mind, here is a replay link that you can use to watch our webinar titled Environmental and Socially Responsible Investing and Getting the Most Bang for Your Charitable Buck: You can also read the transcript at

If you are interested in learning more about investing with companies whose values and core missions align with your own, watching this webinar and taking the next step by reaching out to our office to discuss the possibility of working with us and one of our partner DFA firms to develop your own socially responsible portfolio would be a valuable first step. Doing so might also actually improve your financial position and better protect your family.

If you are interested in taking the next step to consider impact investing, please call Alice at 412-521-2732.

Content provided is for informational purposes only and should not be used or construed as investment advice or a recommendation regarding the purchase or sale of any security. Socially Responsible Investments may not be suitable for all investors. Investment choices should be discussed with your advisor prior to implementation. Past performance may not be indicative of future results. Investing in securities involves risks, including the potential for loss of principal. There is no guarantee that any investment plan or strategy will be successful.