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“Socially Responsible” Investing Continues Strong Growth

A recent article from the Los Angeles Times highlights the growing trend of socially responsible investing, especially among millennials. The article cites a report by the Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment that estimates, as of the end of 2013, one sixth of assets under management in the United States were invested using “sustainable, responsible and impact investing” ($6.57 trillion) rising from $3.74 trillion at the start of 2012 . Morningstar defines “socially responsible funds” as “any fund that invests according to noneconomic guidelines” and that may focus on “such issues as environmental responsibility, human rights, or religious views,” and counted approximately 100 U.S.-based socially responsible mutual funds (excluding religiously-oriented funds) as of the beginning of 2014. While the article notes that many of the socially responsible-focused mutual funds hold stock in “some of the most profitable U.S. companies, including Apple Inc., Qualcomm Inc., Google Inc. and Johnson & Johnson,” over the last decade the average socially responsible fund returned 6.7% per year compared to the S&P 500’s 7.9%, according to Morningstar.