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Investing for Change: Profit from Responsible Investment Hardcover – November 26, 2008


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (November 26, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195370147
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195370140
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,096,006 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Asset managers Augustin Landier and Vinay B. Nair explain how to make your investments reflect your values--without sacrificing returns in the process. Their well-researched book offers portraits of typical values investors, presents statistics that convince the skeptical, and makes a convincing argument for adding socially responsible investments to your portfolio.

Questions for Co-Authors Augustin Landier and Vinay B. Nair

Amazon.com: In your book, you identify three types of values investors: blue, yellow and red. Can you describe them?

Landier & Nair: In Investing for Change, we divide investors into three stylized color categories based on their motives. (In reality, all investors are a mixture of these categories with regard to specific values and causes.) These categories are structured according to two key questions: What are your beliefs, and how much are you willing to pay for them?

YELLOW investors feel morally obliged to avoid companies that are incompatible with some of their values. They consider that doing otherwise would be immoral.
RED investors are at the other end of the SRI spectrum, as they are not motivated by moral concerns. Instead, they will not tolerate investment strategies that negatively impact performance in any way.
BLUE investors are pragmatic. They are only interested in being responsible investors if they are convinced that it can change the world in the direction of their values and that the financial cost is small.

Amazon.com: You estimate that Socially Responsible Investments (SRI) will outperform the benchmark indices in the long term. Does the recent turbulence that we've seen in the markets change that prediction?

Landier & Nair: There are two conflicting forces. On the one hand, as many investors have lost a lot in recent months, being socially responsible might seem to them as a sort of "unnecessary luxury" and this might delay the growth of responsible investing. On the other hand, there is a real demand to find a new meaning in financial markets, something beyond greed, and this might give traction to the idea that markets can be used to express values. Moreover, we are entering a period of regulation tightening, which is favorable to the more responsible companies. These last two forces make the current period favorable to the growth of SRI and therefore also to its returns.

Amazon.com: Which comes first, the chicken or the egg? Does corporate responsibility create wealth or do companies adopt socially responsible practices because they can afford to do so?

Landier & Nair: We explain in Investing for Change that increasing profits is not the only reason for companies to listen to the demands of responsible investors. In fact, being responsible sometimes does actually reduce profits. But it doesn't mean companies have to be altruistic to be responsible: responsibility can indeed create shareholder value indirectly by securing a strong base of loyal investors, which has a stabilizing impact on stock-prices and can allow companies to take a long-term view, to invest on more ambitious projects.

Amazon.com: Some investors may drop "sin industries" from their portfolios. Will strict values investors change the way that industries do business?

Landier & Nair: No. The fact that they are banned from responsible portfolios will not convince tobacco companies or casinos to become green energy companies! These companies cannot reasonably be expected to change industry. So, banning whole industries will not induce improvements in the way these industries are operated. If your goal is to promote change within these industries, as an investor, one way to do it is to include companies that do make an effort to reduce the damage they do and exclude those who don't. From a financial perspective, it turns out that including some companies from all industries (as opposed to excluding whole industries) has a positive impact on returns. That means that this inclusive approach is particularly suited for "Blue" investors, as it favors change while protecting financial returns.

Amazon.com: More women are adopting SRI's than men. What accounts for this difference?

Landier & Nair: There is evidence in the social psychology and economics literature that women are more prone to altruistic concerns. For example, it has been shown that when women are the recipients of public subsidies, they tend to spend it more on children's health and education than men.

Amazon.com: You write that "the future of the SRI movement hinges on the desire of the wealthiest individuals of the planet to use their investments to improve the world." How can those of us with more modest incomes affect change?

Landier & Nair: Well, the accumulation of a lot of individual initiatives can create a powerful force, that's the very idea of democracy. This requires however that responsible investors pick causes that are common to a world-wide majority of investors. As a "modest" individual, you can probably not promote your own unique personal causes but you can definitely join forces with others. So it's all about finding this global common-ground on which a large majority of investors agree and pick mutual funds or indices that are coherent with these values. We find in our research that the protection of the environment, the treatment of employees and the safety of products are the three topics on which such global consensus does currently exist. Another way to help is to spread the word: there are strong peer-effects in the way individual invest their savings.


From Publishers Weekly

Academics turned portfolio managers, Landier and Nair offer up evidence for socially responsible investing's potential for financial gain and real social change, highlighting how returns, risks and goals differ in ethical investing. The book traces the evolution of socially responsible investing (SRI) from its 18th-century Quaker roots to the first socially responsible mutual fund, 37-year-old Pax World, and finally to more recent responsibility indices and the increasing availability of corporate sustainability reports. The authors wisely credit the growing influence of the corporate governance movement, the increasing number of socially responsible mutual funds, large public pension funds' interest in responsibility issues, and the dynamic regulatory landscape for pushing change on environmental, human rights and other social fronts, making an ethical investment approach a viable option. The authors assess the research on stock returns in ethical investing and the trade-offs for one's principles, projecting that a more balanced socially responsible investment portfolio can grow close to industry averages on the S&P 500, for example, and better than benchmark portfolios. While the fictitious investors in the book grate, its appeal to invest in who you are is genuinely persuasive. (Dec.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Customer Reviews

I most definitly recommend this book to any responsible investors and just starting investors.
Brett Farrell
If you happened across some money you'd like to invest, and have never paid attention to the market, this book is not for you.
Kevin Nicholls
The book is very nicely written and the charts and graphics are well-designed to convey the meaning of accompanying text.
Kanishk Rastogi

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By M. Stewart VINE VOICE on January 13, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This book has some good qualities but some annoying issues. It makes some excellent points about how individual investors can make a difference for the better through Socially Responsible Investment (SRI). The book is well researched and does a great job at bringing together a wide variety of source data, and analyzes that data in order to show the benefits, both moral and financial, of SRI. It has a good set of end notes, and a very good quality index. An appendix lists SRI mutual funds. There are frequent side-bars to give examples of certain points or define a term.

The authors group potential investors into three color-coded groups (to help avoid confusion in the closing chapters as the strategies are compared): Yellow, blue, and red. The yellow group want to avoid investing in certain industries or companies, regardless of the potential loss in portfolio returns, the blue group will tolerate "not terrible" companies but avoid "terrible" companies. An example would be the blue investor might consider a company that produces alcoholic beverages if it did not target young drinkers, where the yellow group would not consider any alcoholic beverage company, if that was a value they held. The red investor would be one who only would buy a company with good values if it had superior returns over another similar company with so-so values.

One of the things I found interesting was the positive impact of shareholder resolutions, even when the resolutions do not pass. A large institutional investor was able to influence a company 95% of the time even though only one of its resolutions passed. They make a good case that SRI is building enough momentum to truly make a difference.

Now some quibbles.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Kevin Nicholls TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 22, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This book assumes you have at least some familiarity with the stock market. If you happened across some money you'd like to invest, and have never paid attention to the market, this book is not for you.

Being someone who does pay attention to the market and does a little day trading, I found the book's concept to be intriguing. Personally, I don't have many qualms about the companies I invest in, but I was hoping this book might might offer some strategies to steer me in a "better" direction.

Let's just say I didn't run to realign my portfolio after reading this.

The biggest problem I had with this book (and judging from some other reviews, I'm not alone here) is that the authors haven't figured out who their target audience is. Some of the concepts and lack of "how do I?" guidance are well beyond someone new to investing. At the same time, more experienced investors will typically know about the companies they're investing in.

The other problem I had, is that the authors seem less concerned about getting a return on your investment than investing in companies that reflect your beliefs or lifestyle. So on one hand, I'm not really in to sleeping in a room full of Haliburton money like Scrooge McDuck -- But on the other, I'm not betting my retirement and my daughter's college money on Ben and Jerry's simply because they make delicious ice cream. So, you can be "responsible" in the social or environmental sense of the term, but your choices may be wildly irresponsible if you're looking to achieve specific investment goals.

That all said, Investing for Change is still an interesting read in its own right, and the color-coded social investor groups were an interesting concept. I'd buy this book if I had an interest in seeing what direction some investors plan to take in the upcoming years, but I wouldn't use it as a reference for personal investment guidance.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Lisa Shea HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 29, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
You might ask, in our current economy, who can even afford to invest? However, I know many people who routinely tithe 10% of their income to good causes. There is always the money to put into quality causes, if you take the time and energy to truly be frugal and cautious in your lifestyle. The question then becomes even more important than usual - where do you put those hard earned pennies? You want them to keep you safe, to pay for college for your kids, for retirement for yourself. You also want them to promote a good quality of change in the world.

I definitely appreciate the message of Investing for Change. It is about finding stocks that you can both believe in and earn a good income from, as well as promote social good and environmental health. The book is quite right in stating that the more financially secure someone is, the more they have the luxury of thinking about others and social issues. The trap that many of us fall into is that we feel we "need" a second car, an air conditioner in every room, a high speed cable connection. We do not appreciate that simply by having a roof over our head and a steady supply of food that we are already ahead of 50% of the human population. MTV has done a great disservice to our world by convincing us that we needed cool clothes and jewelry to be even "passable".

Remember that fifty percent of the world's population struggles just to get food and water every day. They survive on $2 a day income. If you have an apartment or house, if you have food in your cupboards, you are doing extremely well. Our society teaches us that we need mansions and yachts to have "made it", when most of us are already princes and princesses in many of the world population's eyes.

So where does this all leave us with this book?
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