We all know we need to save for our retirement. But darn it if the language itself doesn’t make you feel like you need a PhD in “Investing”…stock market, bonds, pension funds, mutual funds, IPOs, IRAs, CDs…shoot, even logging into my UBS account feels unnaturally complicated!

But then, you do it. You open a mutual fund. Maybe you buy stock in some tech company because you see their products everywhere and want to gamble on them. And maybe it’s even sort of fun—you’ve built up some accounts and begin watching your money grow (hopefully!). But then it occurs to you—what exactly am I invested in? Is my investment supporting a company that destroys the landscape in Canada by ‘fracking,’ or the destruction of orangutans’ natural habitat for palm oil production—how can I make sure I’m not?! How can I put my money where my values are? Does “sustainable investing” exist?

Corporate and social responsibility are very much on people’s minds these days. And luckily the market is taking note and offering up solutions. To help navigate this often confusing world, our May event focused on this very topic.

Guests and hosts discussed a variety of challenges like:

“What makes a bank sustainable and how can they demonstrate this to their clients?”
“Do you believe sustainable funds provide lower return than traditional funds? Why?”
“What can be done to remove the perception that there is a trade-off between sustainability and investment return?”
“How do you know if the ‘green investment fund’ is truly ‘green,’ and if it’s having an impact?”

Probably my favorite ‘take home’ message was that there is no difference between the returns from a traditional or a sustainable fund. In fact, I can attest to this from my own experience! So, if you’re ready to invest a little time in order to invest your money in ways that sit well with your conscience, you can learn more by contacting our partners from the event. Here’s a general summary:

The Freie Gemeinschaftsbank offers you the possibility to invest in regional projects which have a social and ecological impact, and also allows clients to choose the interest rate to be charged. You also get to know personally the project your money is supporting.

To invest in companies pursuing social, ethical and ecological objectives besides economic ones, Basler Kantonalbank and Basellandschaftliche Kantonalbank offers you these options:

Sustainable investment funds,
Sustainable asset management,
And The Christoph Merian Cantonal Banks Foundation.

The latter is a charitable foundation established in 2008 by the Christoph Merian Foundation, Basellandschaftliche Kantonalbank and Basler Kantonalbank. Your donation will support and sponsor social, cultural and ecological projects in and around the Basel-County and Basel-City cantons.

And finally, Fossil Free can educate you about the role which individuals can play in their pension funds, and how they can influence decisions of their pension funds. They can also discuss with you the merits of pursuing divestment (from coal, oil and gas) as an important strategy.

Now, go make that money, honey!

Carrie Aikman