3 Ways Your Investments Could Help the World (and the Wissahickon)

News // March 16, 2022

A sponsored message from Prentiss Smith & Company, a generous supporter of Friends of the Wissahickon.

On your last walk in the Wissahickon, chances are you weren’t thinking much about your investments. Those of us fortunate enough to have money invested tend to think about it mainly at inflection points in our lives or in the economy: an upcoming home purchase or retirement, a sudden recession or a legislative change. The rest of the time, our future savings can feel disconnected from our daily lives.

But what if that walk in the Wissahickon is, in fact, the perfect time to think about your investments? After all, the fate of our world is arguably in the hands of corporations as much as it is in governments. You may vote in elections every year, but at Prentiss Smith & Company we like to say that you vote with your money every day.

How can you make those votes count? How can your ownership stake in corporations reflect the same values you bring to your engagement with politics, to your community, and yes, even to the Wissahickon?

We have some suggestions.

Make sure your investments exclude industries and companies that don’t align with your values. For instance, oil and gas companies fuel climate change, which drives erosion and habitat degradation in the Wissahickon; agrochemicals degrade our waterways; private prison companies keep our communities isolated and divided. Choose an investment manager or funds that will allow you to avoid such investments entirely, as a matter of policy.

Be educated about how your shares are voted. Every share of stock you own gets a vote at a company’s annual meeting. Many investment managers and funds will vote on your behalf. Are they voting for stronger environmental disclosures? Are they voting against entrenched, non-diverse board directors at the companies you own a stake in?

Find out if your investment manager or fund manager engages with the companies you hold shares in. For instance, are they pushing for stronger no-deforestation policies at food companies whose supply chains impact forests across the world? By aggregating your shares with those of other clients, money managers can have an outsized impact on corporate policy making when they choose to.

Take these steps, and if you do think about your investments on your next walk in the Wissahickon, it can be with a feeling of satisfaction that your savings are aligned with the world that surrounds you.