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Finance & Investing (cont.)

Meet The Players

Who's addressing finance and investing issues, and how?


  • Asset managers and portfolio managers work on the “buy side” to incorporate sustainability into their management of pooled wealth, whether pensions and retirement plans like CalPERS, or mutual funds and ETFs like Portfolio 21 and Parnassus Investments.
  • Investment banks might get a bad rap, but many analysts and brokers here on the “sell side” conduct investment research and rate companies on their environmental, social, and governance (ESG) data and other factors. Banks like J.P. Morgan are engaged in impact investing, while Deutsche Bank runs a Climate Change Advisors group.
  • Investment advisors and wealth managers help families and foundations make their impact through all types of investments (including stocks, bonds, cash, and real estate), and can include large financial services firms such as UBS, or smaller groups like Aperio Group and HIP Investor.
  • Venture capitalists and private equity funds invest money in promising enterprises, largely in the energy efficiency, clean tech, and health and wellness sectors. Some, like DBL Investors, Khosla Ventures and Physic Ventures, are 100% sustainability focused; others, like Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, have specialties in sustainable industries.


    Government agencies map out and enforce financial regulations, make major investments in job creation and energy ventures, and even engage in impact investing abroad through the State Department, World Bank, and IFC.

    Nonprofit organizations

    Nonprofits include watchdogs like the Center for Responsible Lending who look out for predatory lending practices, advisory and thought leadership groups like Nonprofit Finance Fund, and impact investor networks like Investors’ Circle.

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    Social Entrepreneurship
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    Key Terms
    • Socially responsible investing (SRI) screens out “negative” industries (e.g. tobacco) from portfolios, or chooses only the “best in class” of oil companies or arms manufacturers.
    • Impact investing, like the work of Rockefeller Foundation or Acumen Fund, proactively invests in companies and industries with positive social or environmental results and practices.
    • Environmental, social, and governance (ESG) data is used by sustainable investors like Generation Investment Management, who engage in mainstream markets but embed ESG factors into their decision-making.
    Get Started

    There are plenty of ways to get started in finance and investing:

    • Sharpen your spreadsheet skills. The best candidates can calculate ROI, NPV, and IRR in their sleep.
    • Practice with your own portfolio or create a shadow portfolio, and compare your results to those of your dream employer.
    • While 100% sustainability-minded companies are a coveted option for many, remember that you can always develop your skills and make a tangible difference in more traditional finance to start.
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