Gitterman Wealth Management Hosts NYC Sustainable / ESG / Impact Investing Conference

Gitterman Wealth Management, led by co-founder Jeff Gitterman (pictured), held its SMART (Sustainability Metrics Applied to Risk Tolerance)® Investing for a Better World conference, a Sustainable Investment Conference for Financial Advisors, in New York City.

Attended by over 150 investment professionals, the conference provided Registered Investment Advisor perspectives on ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) Investing, and an opportunity to learn from large RIA’sthat are successfully incorporating ESG strategies into their investment process and business models.

Currently, there are $8.7 trillion in professionally managed sustainable portfolios, representing a 33% two-year growth.  ESG investing is clearly on the rise. The fall 2017 event was designed to align advisor practices with the rapidly growing ESG landscape, and focused on the following:

• ESG Data – Exploring whether ESG integration adds alpha and/or reduces risk in portfolio design.

• ESG Marketing and Client Acquisition – How to brand yourself as an ESG expert and attract clients interested in ESG to your practice.

After an introduction from Jeff Gitterman (Co-Founding Partner of Gitterman Wealth Management), keynote speakers Barbara Krumsiek (Former President and CEO of Calvert Investments and current Board Member at Arabesque Asset Management) and Georg Kell (Founding Director, United Nations Global Compact and Chairman of the Board at Arabesque) spoke on how ESG data has evolved over the years.

Another highlight of the conference was the ESG Asset Manager Panel, which explored how managers utilize, integrate, and monitor ESG data within investment strategies. One issue mentioned is that disclosure information from companies is greatly improving, as are the number of data sources, concluding that a combination of qualitative and quantitative data is the most efficient way to evaluate companies on sustainability and ESG factors.

Also discussed was the evolution of Green Bond issuance. As Patrick Drum (Portfolio Manager at Saturna Sustainable Bond and Amana Participation Funds) pointed out, issuance began four years ago and there is a big difference between what are described as “Green Bonds” and how they follow ESG guidelines.

An RIA Panel titled “Understanding Portfolio Strategies of ESG Focused Advisors,” moderated by Steve Schueth (President of First Affirmative Financial Network and Producer of the SRI Conference) highlighted how clients increasingly want to make a social impact and in turn are requesting investments with companies focusing on ESG.

It was also pointed out that for “Gender-Parity” investing, selection starts by searching for companies with three or more women on their boards. A final key point addressed the misnomer that SRI investing doesn’t provide market-based results as funds have outperformed and there is ample, empirical data to back these findings.

Other key panels and speeches included:

● ESG Data Provider Panel: Examining How ESG Data is Gathered, Integrated, and Distributed

● RIA Panel: Client Acquisition- Marketing Strategies of ESG Focused Advisors

● Keynote Speaker: Bruce M. Kahn, PhD- Portfolio Manager, Sustainable Insight Capital Management

As a financial professional with 20+ years of experience in the industry, but relatively new to the ESG investing field, I found that the conference offered an in-depth, expert, and accurate picture of the current state of ESG investing. I can strongly recommend engagement with the Investing for a Better World conference for an informed approach to practices and strategies in the field.

For a detailed description of the agenda, sessions, and speakers, click here