Today, socially responsible investments are a growing market. “Clients are informed and want to make intelligent investment choices,” says Anita D’Aguilar, director of investments at Oppenheimer & Co. Inc., noting that one out of every nine dollars is invested in socially responsible investing strategies. She’s turned that information into an offering for the firm, and explains how it’s paying off.
How did you decide to make socially responsible investing a focus?
Anita D’Aguilar: I learned the importance of impact investing through my community involvement and philanthropic pursuits. As a financial adviser, many of my clients are highly successful individuals and families that are driven by their values. They see their wealth as an avenue to support their priorities and want to protect what they have created.
What is involved in those efforts?
D’Aguilar: Getting to know people from an authentic place—really taking an interest in what is important to them, uncovering what drives them in life. What are their passions centered around? What are their social and moral values and principles? How do they feel they can contribute to the society in which they live?
What about your work inspires you?
D’Aguilar: The opportunity to educate and act as a good news messenger around socially responsible investing, as it is an area that can be misunderstood. I am inspired to see money talk—by which I mean that shareholders have power to get the attention of corporations. I am also inspired to work with people that align their social values with their investment portfolios. Another point of inspiration is to work with people of like minds that have shifted their investment objectives to focus on corporate governance, the environment, and social sustainability.
Have there been any challenges to focusing on socially responsible investing?
D’Aguilar: Most challenges are universal to investing in general. How can investors protect their wealth? How can we set up plans so they don’t outlive their money and/or assets? How can they continue to support their favorite charities? Another challenge is helping people to understand they do not have to give up performance in order to grow and protect their assets. They can combine their value system with values-based investing.
“[People] do not have to give up performance in order to grow and protect their assets. they can combine their value system with values-based investing.”
What have been the results of your efforts?
D’Aguilar: People are pleased with having the option to invest in a socially conscious and socially responsible fashion. The results have been overall positive.
What advice would you give someone seeking to follow in your career footsteps?
D’Aguilar: It is an intensive process and you must be committed to doing the right thing for the client. There is a learning curve, so you also have to put in the time and make the effort to stay current, as the socially responsible investing market is ever-evolving. It’s also helpful if an adviser is dedicated to social causes and has an interest in affecting the environment in a positive way.