Robos with Socially Responsible Investing
The Tortoise and The Hares
Creating a set of reliable metrics to rank companies along Environmental Social Governance (ESG) dimensions can be challenging, without considering the broader universe of impact investments. Even when only considering ESG dimensions, it is extremely difficult to draft benchmarks for any given industry, and even more challenging to fathom a set of standards that would work across several industries. Determining what benchmarks to use for what industry is subjective, and as such differs among reporting companies and among investors.
So while several of the largest robo advisors (e.g., Betterment, Personal Capital, and Wealthfront) have added socially responsible investing (SRI) options (These robo advisors all choosing to use the SRI term rather than ESG or impact investing), each has taken a different approach. Notably, the UK-based Nutmeg has decided to hold off on creating an SRI option altogether due to the lack of conformity around SRI criteria and high fees associated with SRI products.