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Ethical Investing?

I had a look at one of my older posts Vultures and while it is an interesting rant which fires in all directions the first comment made me think about something that I keep hearing about these days, and that is the concept of Ethical Investing.

The commenter in that specific post pretty much called me a scum bag for investing in banks, which given my rants about how terrible the service is that Banks give, makes me more of a hypocrite than a scum bag (IMHO), but I only bring this up to start the discussion.

Yes, I do invest in the Canadian Banks, mostly because they do seem to find new and exciting ways to make money, most likely in a way that screws regular folks royally, but I don’t have an issue with that, but that is pretty much where I draw the line for where I invest. You might ask what I don’t invest in (directly, I may invest in these because I hold many index funds and ETFs that may spread funds to these industries/areas):

  • Payday Loan companies: interesting that I will invest in banks which make a fortune off consumer debt using credit cards and bad loan terms, yet I don’t want to invest in Pay Day loan companies, which are just a much smellier part of the same financial compost heap. I am a complicated guy that way (or a hypocrite as I am sure someone will point out).
  • China: I am staying the heck away from China and Russia (to a lesser extent), just because totalitarian governments worry me, and what they have done to their populations just makes me leery of giving them my money.
  • High Tech: this is mostly a once bitten, twice shy scenario where I have lost enough money in this area in my younger days, and frankly the scum bags that run some of these companies are really in the same category as a few dictatorships I have read about.
  • Carbon Footprint Offset Funds: I don’t understand it, and I really don’t trust any of it. I think I’d rather invest in Sanitation Companies before I got into this Green Shell Game.

I do not go out of my way to live up to these high ideals that I have put down, but I do try to steer clear of these areas (and some other areas which seem shady at best). Is this Ethical Investing? Somewhat since it is my own ethics that I am following, but I think it is not Big E ethics, more small e ethical investing.

What areas do you stay away from and are you a Big E Ethical Investor, or a small e?

Feel Free to Comment

  1. I see nothing about investing in the Big 5/6 as ‘unethical’. If anything we have no choice in Canada but to deal with one of these companies for a myriad of reasons. As investors we might as well get a return via a stable and growing dividend. If you can’t win, join!

    Long: CM, BNS, RY

    If I had more cash I would certainly be long TD and BMO.

  2. I always look at how a company makes it money before I invest. I do not invest in tobacco or Pay-Loan type companies. I do look around the net to see if there are negative comments.

    I once did not invest in a retail stock because I found lots of negative comments on how it did business. I felt I might be better off with another investment instead.

  3. Great post. I myself have been sharing my opinion on ethical investing on my blog lately. It is really important to me and something that I like to advocate for. I would say I am a big ethical investor. I would rater forgo some profits than to make “dirty money”. I would like to do what I can to help those companies trying to be sustainable. It is what sits right with me.

  4. Clearly, ethical investors will frequently disagree about specifics. However, I believe that if everyone does invest according to their personal values, then, since so many of core values are alike — and are supportive of higher ideals — that in the long run, only companies employing these higher values will truly prosper.

    Serious, unbiased studies do show that in general, long-term returns on ethical investment portfolios are as good, and sometimes better, than with most regular portfolios. See this page on my Canadian ethical investing site . {link removed}

    Also, surveys all-over-the-world show that most investors want to invest in ethical companies and don’t want their investments being the cause of grief to others.

    I’ve been following ethical investing for some forty years.

  5. I’ve been investing 3% of my income in “ethical investments” rather than giving it to charity. There’s a couple of green tech start ups i’ve invested in that haven’t done to bad. I feel i’m getting a better ROI

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