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It’s About to Become Easier to Choose a Socially Responsible Investment Advisor

Anne Field | July 10, 2018

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Starting this fall, choosing a financial advisor may become a little easier for people who care about the impact their money is having—thanks to a brand new professional designation for financial advisors that was recently unveiled by the College of Financial Planning, in collaboration with the US SIF: The Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment.

Called the Chartered SRI Counselor (CSRIC), the designation enables financial advisors to demonstrate their bone fides as experts in the various socially responsible investing approaches out there and the environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors that should be considered by like-minded investors. (In this case, SRI stands for sustainable, responsible and impact investments).

As the first such certification for the field, the move is the latest indication of the increasing demand among investors for more impact-related options—and the growing pool of funding for impact enterprises.

socially responsible investment advisor
Michael Young of US SIF (photo: Adrian Nastase)

“This is really a response from requests we were getting from advisors looking for more than an introductory level training in this area,” says Michael Young, manager of education programs for US SIF, a nonprofit aimed at shifting investment practices toward sustainability.

“This is a way for professional advisors to show they have more than a passing interest in impact investing and to put some more rigor into the training around this space.”

The course work will include seven modules, with classes available through both in-person and online study. “Students will learn about the latest industry trends and how to effectively communicate the value of sustainable, responsible and impact investments,” according to the web site description.

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The details are still being finalized, but the plan is for around 60 hours of study, according to Young. That will include, among other topics, the foundations of socially responsible investing; the various approaches to SRI practices, from debt investments to ETFs; an overview of shareholder advocacy and engagement; how to include SRI into portfolio construction for different types of clients; creating investment policies for foundations and pension funds; the risk and ratings metrics available; fiduciary ethics; and regulatory changes and other issues to be aware of.

The courses are expected to be up and running by early fall.

The College of Financial Planning provides education and certification for a great many professional designations for financial services professionals—a veritable alphabet soup of designations, such as the prestigious Certified Financial Planner (CFP), along with Chartered Mutual Fund Counselor (CMFC), Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor (CRPC) and Chartered Retirement Plans Specialist (CRPS).

The new Chartered SRI Counselor designation signals that impact investing has joined retirement planning as a top concern for advisors and the investors who hire them.

Anne Field is a New York-based journalist who writes about social enterprise and impact investing. A version of this article originally appeared on her Not Only For Profit blog on Forbes.com.

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