Financial Literacy

More Investors Investing With a Purpose

ESG investments align funds, personal values

A growing number of investors are prioritizing socially responsible outcomes in addition to financial results as they align their assets with personal values through environmental, sustainable, and governance (ESG) investments.

Small investors and institutions alike are increasingly focusing on non-financial factors as they evaluate companies’ performance while making investment decisions. More than 90 percent of those polled for the 2021 MSCI Investment Insights Survey said non-financial performance metrics played a decisive role in their decision-making during the previous year. The poll of global institutional asset owners also found 72 percent conducted a methodical, structured evaluation of ESG factors last year – more than double the 32 percent who did so in 2018.

Helping people align their assets with their values to craft a Socially Responsible Investment (SRI) plan is the primary mission at Green Future Wealth Management in Worcester, Massachusetts. Founder and wealth advisor Nick Cantrell, CFP®, ChFC®, CLU®, CSRIC™ said his firm uses SRI strategies to align clients’ personal values, beliefs, and passions with investments in assets that reflect those values.

NickH“For many of our clients, what is most important to them revolves around environmental stewardship and sustainability, such as getting away from using fossil fuels,” Cantrell said. “These clients are really passionate about their ethical values. We work with them to create a financial plan that incorporates what’s most important to them.”

More financial firms throughout the industry are embracing ESG investing, Cantrell noted. For example, UBS Global Wealth Management, one of world’s largest financial firms, announced two years ago that ESG would be its default option for selecting investments. Returns from ESG investments are often comparable to other investments while presenting lower risk exposure than conventional assets.

“Even clients who do not have a specific value set believe an ESG investment approach gives them more bang for the buck,” he continued. “Research on the value of sustainable investing has been strong. We’re finding people who, quite frankly, could care less about sustainability. However, they are incorporating ESG into their investment decision-making on the basis of both pure return and risk.”

Cantrell said that as marketplace demand continues to evolve, he believes more firms will specialize in sustainable wealth management. There are an increasing number of firms today that focus on ESG and SRI, but most are fairly small.

“I would love for my firm to eventually become a national player in this space because we bring a lot to the table,” he added. “My expectation is that, by the time we are a national player, there will be many other national players. The marketplace demand is insatiable, so I think there will be other firms growing to meet that demand.”

While many Green Future Wealth Management clients are interested in investments that reflect their personal beliefs and values, their basic goals for achieving financial success are much like everyone else’s.

“At the end of the day,” Cantrell said, “the number one reason our clients work with us is because they want to save for retirement. They want to build wealth to accomplish their financial goals: achieve security in retirement, pass on money to their children or grandchildren, or give more to charity. Those things are all at the top of the list for everybody who works with an advisor. Our clients just want to do it in a way that also supports their own values.”

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When Cantrell launched Green Future Wealth Management, he decided not to set a firm minimum so he could work with clients of all types. Although the firm has many clients who fall within the range of $500,000 to $5 million in assets, it also serves a number of smaller customers.

“I believe financial planning helps improve people’s lives,” Cantrell explained. “I didn’t want to create barriers to people who wanted to use financial education and financial planning to build a better life. We’re serious about working with clients who are just getting started and want to improve their financial situation.”

People from all walks of life can benefit from financial education. Cantrell said many of his clients are highly intelligent and well-educated, including academics with advanced degrees, physicians, researchers, and even a retired economics professor.

“I often say that all of my clients are geniuses,” he continued, “However, it really takes three things to be able to do financial planning and investing on your own. It takes knowledge; it takes time; and it takes desire. Most people do not have all three. Even if they have the knowledge and the time, they simply don’t have the desire.”

Similarly, many clients can be intimidated by dealing with the financial industry. Cantrell said a number of his clients inherited their wealth, which can introduce additional complexities into their relationship with money. Others are overwhelmed by the entire financial process.

Cosette Family PicCantrell’s background as an educator has been particularly helpful in creating satisfied clients. After receiving his degree in education, he spent several years teaching music in public schools. He then spent 14 years in financial services before opening his own firm in mid-2020 – in the midst of the pandemic. Cantrell noted many clients say they appreciate having an advisor who will take the time to explain complex concepts in a way that makes them easily understandable and do so in a patient manner.

“Often I view my job as being an educator-in-chief who brings wealth management to people,” he said. “Jargon and acronyms are the enemies when you are helping a client feel empowered through their personal financial plan.”

For more information on Green Future Wealth Management, visit

Securities offered through Registered Representatives of Cambridge Investment Research, Inc., a broker dealer, member FINRA/SIPC. Advisory services offered through Cambridge Investment Research Advisors, Inc., a Registered Investment Adviser. Green Future Wealth Management and Cambridge are not affiliated. Investing involves risk. Depending on the different types of investments there may be varying degrees of risk. Socially responsible and ESG investing do not guarantee any amount of success. Clients and prospective clients should be prepared to bear investment loss including loss of original principal.


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