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spreading the word

New guide offering steps to adding SRI

In a new resource guide for plan sponsors, the US SIF Foundation says there are five steps to adding socially responsible investing options to defined contribution plans.

Those steps are: increasing plan sponsors' knowledge of sustainable, responsible and impact investing, related performance and fiduciary duties; gauging participants' interest in adding SRI options; discussing implementation with plan consultants and/or administrators; choosing funds and monitoring performance; and educating participants.

"With a growing body of data indicating that companies with strong environmental, social and governance standards have stronger financial performance, as well as the competitive financial performance of SRI funds, defined contribution plans are well-placed to enter this marketplace. Additionally, plans can build on the 2015 ERISA guidance, which clearly enables fiduciaries to consider ESG factors as part of their investment analysis," the foundation said in an Aug. 16 news release.

Barriers to SRI's pickup are a lack of knowledge about performance and the SRI options available, or third-party platforms with limited investment options, the foundation said.

According to the foundation's November report, less than 1% of assets among 2,390 private sector retirement plans as of Dec. 31, 2014, were invested in funds that explicitly marketed themselves as SRI.