Socially Responsible Investment (SRI) means taking into account not only the financial performance of an asset or business but also social, environmental, ethical and governance-related criteria relating to the company. Today more and more people are being attracted to this type of investment. A recent survey conducted by Dublin-based consultancy Callan Associates reveals that 37% of the 84 US institutional funds polled – representing close to $843 billion worth of assets – take account of CSR factors in their decision-making process, up from 29% in 2015 and 22% in 2013. Consumers have also become more aware of such issues. Fully 77% of the Millennial generation claim to be influenced in their purchasing decisions by the environmental record of the company in question – reason enough for startups to specialise in socially responsible investment.
This, at any rate, is the field chosen by Shape, a young UK company that has just come through beta testing, which views stock market investment in a similar manner to Robinhood and Bux. Like Bux, Shape seeks to educate novice traders. To help them make informed decisions, the app points out which criteria they need to pay attention to and explains the main trading concepts. Among other things, it also offers analysts’ opinions and provides data on recent fluctuations in share prices. Last but not least however, the special feature that marks Shape out is that the British startup makes it easy for users to concentrate on ethical investments by filtering out from the very start such sectors as arms manufacture, nuclear power, alcohol and tobacco so as to enable people to “invest in line with your morals”. However, Shape is by no means the only firm working in this particular niche. Over in the United States, Ethic, Grow, Open Invest and Earth Folio are all now making a name for themselves in this field, as is Betterment, while French startup Nalo also has ambitions to seize opportunities with its ‘smart investment’ approach.