Federal Street Advisors has brought in Molly Betournay as research analyst for socially responsible investing (SRI) to accommodate the rapid growth in the sector, Federal Street announced recently.
At least one-third of Federal Street clients now consider environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues when making investments, up from less than 10 percent a decade ago, says Kristin Fafard, chief investment officer at Federal Street.
“Federal Street has been involved in socially responsible investing for more than 20 years; it is part of everyone’s job,” Fafard says. Now it has created a new position of ESG research analyst to coordinate SRI assets. “Molly will work with the rest of the research team to handle SRI because of the increased interest from clients.”
Betournay most recently was head of U.S. research at Eiris, a global firm that provides ESG research for investors, says Federal Street, an employee-owned investment consultant and wealth management firm in Boston.
As part of the SRI process, Federal Street wants its money managers to incorporate such things as water conservation efforts, supply chain management and energy alternatives to fossil fuels when making decisions about which companies to invest in, Fafard says.
SRI has evolved since the days when investors divested their portfolios of companies from South Africa. Instead of just avoiding investments in some countries or in products such as tobacco, firearms and alcohol, investors want to make a positive impact on the world with their investments, she says.
SRI assets surged by 76 percent from 2012 to 2014 in the U.S. as money managers and a range of institutional investors adopted ESG-focused strategies, according to U.S. SIF, the Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment.
SRI assets in the U.S. rose to $6.57 trillion at the start of 2014, up from $3.74 trillion at the beginning of 2012, U.S. SIF says. Assets managed using ESG strategies now account for more than $1 in every $6 professionally managed assets in the U.S.
Many of the Federal Street clients interested in SRI manage private foundations. In addition, the adult children of current clients have a strong interest in promoting responsible investing, Fafard says.
“The Federal Street SRI unit will evolve as the issues change,” Fafard says.