How to find a socially responsible financial advisor or planner

Some investors have long been in favor of social responsibility or socially responsible investing (SRI), that is, investing in ethical companies that sell products that are good for the environment and society in general, and this, within the framework of sound corporate governance.

You may be one of these investors or you want to follow the trend. If so, how do you find a socially responsible advisor or planner? Essentially, you use the same methods that apply to locating any investor or financial planner, except that you use the SRI lens to narrow your search to one with that specialty.

To give you a shortcut to finding SRI advisors or financial planners, try these organizations, which break down professionals by expertise: Green America, College for Financial Planning, XY Planning Network, and Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards.

Keys to go

  • Many organizations list counselors by specialty, saving you time in your search.
  • When interviewing financial advisors who are experts in SRI, ask them about their knowledge and number of years in the field.
  • Adverse situations, such as poor ethics, extreme weather conditions, social injustice, and lack of diversity in corporate C-suites, have made SRI investing more popular.

What credentials should a financial advisor or planner have?

A qualified financial planner can have three titles, but the first is the most important. He is a Certified Financial Planner (CFP).

A CFP is a formal recognition of expertise in the areas of financial planning, taxes, insurance, estate planning, and retirement (as with 401(k)s).

Owned and awarded by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc., the designation is given to individuals who pass the initial CFP Board examinations and then pursue ongoing annual training programs to maintain their skills and certification.

A better prepared financial advisor holds the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation.

A CFA is a globally recognized professional designation awarded by the CFA Institute (formerly the Association for Investment Management and Research (AIMR)) that measures and certifies the competence and integrity of financial analysts. Candidates must pass three levels of exams covering areas such as accounting, economics, ethics, money management and security analysis.

If you have a situation that specifically deals with taxes and accounting, you may want an advisor who is also a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). A CPA is a designation given to professional chartered accountants. The CPA license is provided by the Board of Accountancy in each state.

The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) provides resources on obtaining the license. The CPA designation helps enforce professional standards in the accounting industry. Other countries have equivalent certifications to the CPA designation, including the Chartered Accountant (CA) designation.

Tips to refine your search

The National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA) offers a checklist on how to evaluate a financial advisor:

  • Discuss with your loved ones what you want to accomplish by working with an advisor.
  • Create a list of advisors, compiled through word of mouth advice, professional organizations or lists.
  • Do your homework on your candidates and find a top three by reviewing websites and checking for possible disciplinary action. You can find shortcuts through the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) BrokerCheck and the CFP site, both of which can help you evaluate brokers.
  • Design a list of questions to ask candidates, starting by asking about their approach.
  • Meet them face to face, if possible, or by Zoom.
  • Make sure you feel confident about their experience and credentials and are comfortable speaking with them.

The essential

Once you’ve decided that your strategy will focus on SRI, you’ll need an advisor or planner with that expertise. It’s easier now as more and more investors want to let their investments talk about their commitments.

What is SRI?

Socially responsible investing (SRI), also known as social investing, is investment that is considered socially responsible due to the nature of a company’s business. A common theme for socially responsible investing is socially responsible investing. Socially responsible investments can be made in individual businesses with good social value, or through a socially responsible mutual fund or exchange-traded fund (ETF).

What is FINRA?

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) is an independent, non-governmental organization that writes and enforces rules governing registered brokers and brokerage firms in the United States. Its stated mission is “to protect the investing public from fraud and malpractice.” It is considered a self-regulatory body.

FINRA was created following the consolidation of the National Association of Securities Dealers (NASD) and the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) member regulatory, enforcement and arbitration operations in 2007. The consolidation aimed to eliminate duplication. or redundant regulation and reduce the cost and complexity of compliance.