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Advisor Insights

The Fruits of ESG

Advisors find that sustainable investing is good for business.

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In late 2015, Jeff Secord, an independent financial advisor in Bloomington, Ill., about 150 miles southwest of Chicago, was looking to win business from a local cancer center searching for an advisor for a new endowment. The center is owned by two healthcare companies that have environmental, social, and governance, or ESG, language in their investment policy statements. Secord, who had been in the business for 40 years, had never given much thought to adding sustainable investing strategies to his practice because he thought his local client base wouldn’t be interested. For this proposal, however, he built his first ESG portfolio. Two other firms competing for the business didn’t submit any ESG recommendations. Secord won the business. “I realized, by gosh, I can do this, and nobody else in my community is doing this,” Secord says.

The cancer center was just the start for Secord. He’s begun including gender-investing strategies in his lineup, including the SPDR SSGA Gender Diversity ETF (SHE), which he says has helped him win more women as clients. His daughter, who works with him at the firm, launched what they call their Women’s Financial Empowerment Initiative in 2016.

Tom Lauricella does not own (actual or beneficial) shares in any of the securities mentioned above. Find out about Morningstar’s editorial policies.