Video Series: ESG & Socially Responsible Investing

By: CFFP, a Kaplan Company
June 14, 2021

Our experts discuss emerging topics in socially responsible and ESG investing.

As investment practices shift toward sustainability and the generation of positive social and environmental impacts, Jennifer Coombs, Associate Professor at the College for Financial Planning®—a Kaplan Company and Michael Young, Manager of Education Programs, from The Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment (US SIF) address questions important to financial professionals.

Our Experts

Jennifer N. Coombs

Associate Professor

Jennifer Coombs, CRPC®, is an associate professor at the College for Financial Planning®—a Kaplan Company. She is the creator, lead author, and lead instructor for the Chartered SRI CounselorSM (CSRIC®) designation program, and serves as a subject matter expert on a number of the College’s investment courses.

Prior to joining the College, Jennifer worked for several different Wall Street firms in such varied roles as technical and fundamental analysis, equity research, trading, and portfolio management. The knowledge gained in these roles has led to her passion for educating the public. To this end, Jennifer has given TED talks on the topic of sustainable and responsible investing: “Investing for a Better World: Using Wall Street to Implement Social Change” (November 2015 at TEDx Jersey City), and “Stopping the Rebuttal: Millennial Investors and the Future of Sustainability” (April 2018 at TEDx Clarkson University). She has also given presentations and interviews on “Dollars & Change” Wharton Business School Radio on Sirius XM, Bank of America/Merrill Lynch Wealth Management, Garrett Planning Network, Society of Financial Services Professionals (FSP), The CFA Society of New York, US SIF Annual Conference, SRI Annual Conference, and Advisor Group. Jennifer is also sought out for her expertise on environmental, social, and governance (ESG) analysis for sustainable investing, and has been quoted in Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, Market Watch, Investment News, Wealth Management, Financial Advisor IQ, and Proactive Advisor Magazine.  

Jennifer earned her master of science in finance from the College for Financial Planning, and graduated with distinction (cum laude) from Clarkson University, where she earned a Bachelor of Science with majors in financial information analysis and political science, and minors in economics and law. In addition to her degrees, Jennifer holds the Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor (CRPC™) designation, the Financial Paraplanner Qualified Professional (FPQP®) designation, and is a Certified Financial Education Instructor (CFEI) through the National Financial Educators Council. Jennifer is also a proud member of US SIF and the Financial Planning Association of Colorado.

Michael Young

Manager of Education Programs

Michael is responsible for The Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment's (US SIF) three courses (free online course for individual investors, Fundamentals live and online course for financial professionals, and the CSRIC designation with the College for Financial Planning), creating educational materials out of the existing content of the US SIF Foundation, and continuing to create new materials that will help advance our field.  
Before joining US SIF, Michael spent 16 years working in mutual funds, separately managed accounts, closed-end funds, and exchange-traded funds. Michael served as Director of Business Development for AdvisorShares, an actively managed ETF provider, where his clients ranged from registered investment advisors and financial planning firms to broker-dealer firms, registered investment companies, and hedge funds. His responsibilities included product development, relationship management with sub-advisory asset management firms, institutional sales, portfolio construction consulting, national accounts management, and advisor education. During his time at AdvisorShares, Michael helped launch the first actively managed fossil fuel free ETF, and served as host of the weekly AdvisorShares Alpha Call – a show focused on ETF investing with guests from all corners of the financial services industry. Prior to joining AdvisorShares, his time in financial services was spent during nine years with ING Investment Management and, before that, the Private Client Group at Merrill Lynch. Michael earned a bachelor’s degree from UC Davis.

Sustainable Investing Video Series

Investor Demand and Sustainable Investing

Investor demand for sustainable investing and knowledge of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) has been growing. Find out what the Chartered SRI CounselorSM designation is and how it helps financial advisors in building portfolios to assist clients.

Millenials and ESG Investing

More than 8 in 10 U.S. individual investors (85%) now express interest in sustainable investing.* Younger generations tend to demand higher levels of corporate responsibility. With millennials surpassing the baby boomer generation as the largest consumer group, financial advisors will need to consider this new wave of client demand to help clients achieve outcomes they’re looking for.

*Morgan Stanley, Sustainable Signals: Individual Investor Interest Driven by Impact, Conviction and Choice.

Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) Products and the Underperformance Myth

A perception exists that ESG products underperform compared to non-ESG products. A look back at trends over the last 30 years of the MSCI KLD 400 Social Index compared to the S&P 500 provides data on the performance of ESG products.

ESG Investments During the COVID-19 Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has surfaced many questions about the performance of ESG investments, including “How do companies that score better on ESG criteria perform and how did sustainable investing pan out during the pandemic?” Speakers discuss correlations between performance and enhanced sustainability practices as well as the performance of companies and funds focused on ESG data in 2020.

ESG Ratings and Rankings: Which Ones Should Advisors Use? 

Different methodologies for ESG ratings currently exist and the industry has not come to a broader consensus about criteria vital for ESG. Speakers discuss how advisors can overcome the lack of standardization by focusing on the important issues they are trying to describe for different companies and stocks to make better financial decisions for their clients.

Current State of Corporate ESG Investment Reporting

Speakers discuss the current state of ESG reporting by data companies, index providers and research firms as well as by companies themselves. Companies are making strides through issuing impact and sustainability reports. With the Securities and Exchange Commission's (SEC) recent announcement of a task force focused on climate and ESG issues, growth of ESG data reporting is expected.

Chartered SRI CounselorSM Designation

Speakers discuss the Chartered SRI CounselorSM designation and the financial professionals that this designation benefits. As the demand for investing in ESG products, impact products and sustainable investment funds grow, being knowledgeable about ESG data, regulatory updates and advances are critical for client-facing professionals.

The Future of ESG Investing

Sustainable investing assets now account for 1 in 3 dollars of the total US assets under professional management.* Speakers discuss anticipated trends in the next few years when it comes to proxy building, adoption of ESG products and sustainable investments in retirement plans, research for sustainable investing and regulatory impacts.

*The US SIF Foundation's 2020 biennial Report on US Sustainable and Impact Investing Trends.

Want to learn more about sustainable investing?

Watch our OnDemand webinar "A New World of ESG - Why Sustainable Investing Has Become More Critical Than Ever" where Jennifer Coombs dives deeper into sustainable investing and the College's Chartered SRI CounselorSM program.

View Webinar