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February 12, 2020

Socially Responsible Investing

By The Rev. Jeff Thiemann

It Feels Good to Say Yes

Over the last year, I’ve read several articles that describe growing interest in socially responsible investing — especially among millennials who crave the choice to invest according to their priorities. While Portico has offered this type of investing for 30+ years, evidently few employer-sponsored defined contribution retirement plans give their employees this choice.

A 2019 survey by Natixis Global Asset Management of 1,000 U.S. employees participating in a company-sponsored defined contribution plan found that 75% said they believe it’s important to make the world a better place while growing personal assets. And 61% said they would be more likely to contribute, or increase contributions, to their workplace retirement savings plan if they knew their investments were doing social good.

A Sept. 2019 New York Times article by Mark Miller affirmed this growing interest, citing a US SIF Foundation report that the broad category of sustainable and responsible investing grew 38% in the U.S. from 2016 to the start of 2018, to $12 trillion in assets under management. (US SIF is the Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment.)

Miller also reported, however, that many workplace retirement plans aren’t yet offering this choice. “In 2017, 4% of defined contribution plans included E.S.G. (environmental, social, governance) funds, according to a survey by the Plan Sponsor Council of America, and they held less than 1 percent of total plan assets.”

Members in the ELCA Retirement Plan have the opportunity to choose from 20 ELCA investment funds — six balanced funds diversified and rebalanced by our investment professionals, 14 funds in the Build-Your-Own-Series, and within those fund groups, eight social purpose options. We hear regularly from members that this choice matters deeply to them. And I smile knowing that congregations and employers offering Portico benefits get to tell their staff “Yes, you can invest according to your priorities.”

Members in the ELCA Retirement Plan should carefully consider the investment objectives, risks, charges and expenses of any fund before investing in it. All funds are subject to risk. See the ELCA Investment Fund Description for more information about our funds.

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The Rev. Jeff Thiemann

Jeff was drawn to lead Portico by the opportunity to combine two things he cares about deeply: solving the complex challenges of health care and retirement planning and helping more people through God’s work. When he became president and CEO of Portico in 2011, Jeff was able to combine his passions, leading the talented team at Portico to help bring over 40,000 members holistic benefits so they can better serve the congregations, employees, and communities of the ELCA.

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