Blog : Local Investment Group Offers New Fund to Advance Women

By Madalyn | Nov 18, 2014 | in

By Michael McCord

NEWMARKET – The expansion of Socially Responsible Investing (SRI) options for investors who want to express their progressive values has reached a new plateau.

Mike Smith, the Newmarket-based representative for Progressive Asset Management (PAM), a socially responsible investment division of Financial West, cited the recently launched Pax Ellevate Global Women’s Index Fund as the latest SRI innovation.

What makes the Pax Ellevate Fund unique, Smith explained, is the partnership between Sallie Krawcheck, one of the highest profile female executives in the financial services industry, and Pax World Management, one of the nation’s top socially responsible mutual funds. It’s the first fund specializing in investing in companies doing the most for advancing women.

“This is very new and we are just getting the message out. We believe this is a sound approach that will gain a lot of momentum,” Smith said. “We have clients who have asked to divest their fossil fuel investments and the Ellevate Fund will be another option for SRI clients who want this to be a focus and part of their portfolio.”

Founded in 1987, Oakland, Calif.-based PAM was the nation’s first independent brokerage firm to specialize in SRI. PAM is at the forefront of offering the nation’s widest selection of socially responsible financial products and services, according to Smith who has served SRI investors on the Seacoast with PAM since 2007.

It’s no surprise that innovative funds such as Ellevate have emerged as public awareness about the connection between investments and personal values has never been higher, Smith said. For example, Krawcheck was the Global Wealth & Investment Manager for Bank of America, the largest wealth management business in the world, and chief executive officer and chairman for Citi Global Wealth Management before that.

Smith said it was significant that she chose a socially responsible mutual fund company to further promote her advocacy for more leadership opportunities for women. In a recent interview with PAM for its quarterly newsletter, Krawcheck pointed out that this is no small issue.

“The research shows that companies with greater diversity in their senior ranks are associated with higher returns on capital, lower risk, lower earnings volatility, greater innovation, and a greater long-term focus,” Krawcheck said. “It’s not that men or women are ‘better’ than the other, but that their strengths are complementary to each other’s. And does anyone really think companies can most effectively address the massive business opportunities represented by women without having women in their senior ranks?”

Krawcheck made headlines in the industry by partnering with an SRI mutual fund company in part because she admitted she had been a longtime SRI skeptic.

“After years of dismissing values-based investing as a fringe activity, I have changed my view,” she said in the PAM newsletter. “It’s moved from its early days of having to give up return in order to invest one’s values to something that can be value-enhancing. In other words, it doesn’t have to be a choice between a fair return or investing one’s values anymore, but instead about getting both a fair return and investing one’s values. And many emerging investors believe this as well.”

And in terms of those same progressive values, Smith noted that the Newmarket division of PAM wears their socially and environmentally responsible values on their sleeve. As a business partner of the Green Alliance, a Portsmouth organization representing more than 100 local green businesses, along with nearly 4,000 consumer members, PAM’s regional operation not only talks the talk but walks the walk when it comes to an equal focus on people, profits and the planet.

“Our engagement in the Green Alliance locally allows us to align our community values with the company-wide values of PAM on a national scale. We are all about conscious living and investing and feel like a local green-certification like that of the GA, only adds to our SRI transparency,” adds Smith.

Smith said that SRI investors have a wide range of options to match their progressive values on issues from climate change to green economy growth and now advancing women leadership opportunities by holding companies accountable.

“We believe your investments can follow your values and still be competitive with non-SRI strategies when it comes to performance,” Smith said.

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