Making an Impact

The COVID-19 pandemic brought about a host of changes, new realities, and concerns for everyone. As the world continues its search for a vaccine and a path forward, many people are taking baby steps to embrace the new normal, heal from the loss of loved ones, and reflect on how they can bring about positive change.

For many, the current situation has served as a “call to action” to help others and make a difference. Some help through personal efforts and donations, while others give their resources to public and private organizations focused on achieving a better and more sustainable future for all. For years, public and private enterprises worldwide have banded together to find ways to address the biggest challenges we face as a society – including climate change, diversity, environmental impacts, and poverty.

For investors who hope to effect change by supporting specific organizations, two acronyms should be kept in mind:

  • SRI (Socially Responsible Investing)
  • ESG (Environmental/Social/Governance)

Socially Responsible Investing (SRI) focuses less on where an individual wishes to invest and more on where they do not wish to invest. With an SRI approach, investors choose which industries to avoid, like tobacco or firearms.

ESG investing, on the other hand, is primarily focused on measuring organizations’ operations in three specific areas:

  • Environmental (i.e., conservation of the natural world)
  • Social (i.e., consideration of people & relationships)
  • Governance (i.e., the way the company is run)1

ESG and impact investing (discussed below) are both guided by the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a blueprint of 17 interconnected goals designed to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all.2

Impact Investing

While ESG uses the UN’s SDGs to measure an organization’s operations, impact investing often goes a step further. Impact investing places an explicit focus on organizations whose missions align with UN SDGs to generate a measurable social or environmental impact alongside financial returns.3

Though there is no set definition of impact investing, it can be understood as a way to broaden the scope of potential investment opportunities to include organizations that may fit into one or more ESG and/or SRI categories.

The Future of Impact Investing

In a 2018 study, US-based investors said they expected ESG issues to affect equity and fixed income segments more in 2022 than in 2017.4 Another 2018 study published by Harvard University stated, “As of February 2018, approximately 40% of the G250, the world’s largest 250 companies, acknowledge the SDGs in their corporate reporting and include the global goals in their CEO and/or Chair’s message.”5

One highly publicized ESG investing example is Wells Fargo: investors shied away from the bank after it was revealed in 2016 that they were overcharging clients and creating fraudulent accounts — a reflection of poor governance. As a result, its share price underperformed peers in the preceding months.6

Since the scandal, Wells Fargo has redoubled its commitment to ESG considerations, and in 2019 the bank was named among the “most transparent” organizations on ESG issues.7 This is another important benefit of ESG and impact investing: focusing on the key factors of ESG investing can work to “de-risk” corporations by helping them avoid the headline risk often associated with governance, environmental, or social issues.

Is ESG, SRI, or Impact Investing Right for You?

One of the silver linings from COVID-19 is investors are placing more emphasis on investments that go beyond providing returns and have a positive effect on the world. ESG issues are becoming a larger part of the discussion for investors, boards, and rating agencies.

While impact investing can take many forms, general research guidelines are still being formalized. We can work with you and your family to assist in evaluating how an impact investment program may complement your goals and objectives.

If you are interested in ESG, SRI, or impact investing, please reach out to us to review your options.

1. CFA Institute, ESG Investing and Analysis
2. United Nations, The 17 Goals
3. The Case Foundation, A Short Guide to Impact Investing
4. CFA Institute, ESG Integration in the Americas: Markets, Practices, and Data
5. Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance, UN Sustainable Development Goals—Leading the ESG Framework for Large Companies
6. Forbes, When Might You See ESG Issues Align With Stock Performance?
7. Wells Fargo, Wells Fargo Among ‘Most Transparent’ on Environmental, Social, and Governance Issues


This article contains general information that is not suitable for everyone. The information contained herein should not be constructed as personalized investment advice. Reading or utilizing this information does not create an advisory relationship. An advisory relationship can be established only after the following two events have been completed (1) our thorough review with you of all the relevant facts pertaining to a potential engagement; and (2) the execution of a Client Advisory Agreement. There is no guarantee that the views and opinions expressed in this article will come to pass.

Strategic Wealth Partners (‘SWP’) is an SEC registered investment advisor with its principal place of business in the State of Illinois. The brochure is limited to the dissemination of general information pertaining to its investment advisory services, views on the market, and investment philosophy. Any subsequent, direct communication by SWP with a prospective client shall be conducted by a representative that is either registered or qualifies for an exemption or exclusion from registration in the state where the prospective client resides. For information pertaining to the registration status of SWP, please contact SWP or refer to the Investment Advisor Public Disclosure website (

For additional information about SWP, including fees and services, send for our disclosure brochure and Client Relationship Summary as set forth on Form ADV from SWP using the contact information herein. Please read the disclosure brochure carefully before you invest or send money (

Ignoring the Noise and Staying the Course:  A Recipe for Success
In today’s fast-paced world, it's easy to get caught up in the noise of predictions, forecasts, and market speculation. It's tempting to listen and react to predictions, but successful investing and sound financial planning involve tuning out the noise and taking a more disciplined, strategic approach.
Read More
Financial Planning
Nurturing Wealth Across Generations: A Guide to Multi-Generational Wealth Planning
Often referred to as the “Great Wealth Transfer,” studies show that roughly $84 trillion in assets amassed by baby boomers will change hands over the next 20 years. When examined more closely, a third of today’s high-net-worth individuals inherited their wealth.  According to the UBS Billionaire Ambitions Report, in 2023, more new billionaires were created by inherited wealth rather than entrepreneurship. This trend looks to continue in the years to come for many wealthy families (not just billionaires).
Read More
Financial Planning
The Benefits of Being a Co-Trustee on Your Parents or Loved Ones Accounts
As we watch our parents (or any other loved one) make that gradual shift from being totally independent to needing help, there are some steps that can be taken to facilitate family involvement.  Even for those of us who have parents who are 100% capable of managing their affairs, it doesn’t hurt to be prepared for an unexpected circumstance. The most common solution for being able to manage our parent’s accounts on their behalf is to have an attorney draft a Power of Attorney (“POA”).  A POA is a legal document that authorizes a person to act on another person’s behalf.  We highly recommend them for everyone 18 years and over, so they can have someone act on their behalf when they are no longer able to make financial or health care decisions.   It creates a fiduciary relationship between the Principal (person who created the document) and the Agent (person named to carry out the instructions).  This is my non-attorney understanding of how it works. 
Read More