Investing opportunities are expanding for LGBTQ community, financial expert says

LGBTQ Americans continue to place a priority on investments that meet their financial goals … and their values, according to financial planner Stuart Armstrong.
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By Stuart Armstrong, CNBC

When one considers what type of investment opportunities are available to LGBTQ investors today, the offerings have been expanding, in part reflecting changing attitudes inside and out of the financial industry but also a growing awareness of the importance of constructing financial products that will appeal to the concerns of LGBTQ investors.

A great deal of progress has been made in expanding LGBTQ rights of many kinds, most notably around marriage equality which has had profound impact on the financial core of LGBTQ households. But challenges still remain and thus LGBTQ Americans often continue to place a priority on investments that meet their financial goals … and their values.

The term used for many years to describe investment options that are socially screened has been socially responsible investing, which is described as “any strategy which seeks to consider both financial return and social/environmental good to bring about positive change.” Another term now commonly utilized is environmental, social and corporate governance, “the three central factors in the sustainability and ethical impact of an investment in a company or business.”

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Many years ago, the primary players in the SRI space were conventionally constructed mutual funds from fund companies such as Calvert Funds, Pax World Funds and Domini Funds, that provided investors a typically broader exposure to SRI considerations though not so much the ability to offer more focus on LGBTQ issues and concerns.

Today, those firms and now many others, such as Vanguard and Morgan Stanley, offer more types of financial products, including mutual funds, index funds, exchange traded funds and separately managed accounts. And while most options today aren’t so much exclusive to LGBTQ issues, more of them explicitly address those concerns in their investment review process with the result that, for those investors who desire to include LGBTQ concerns in their personal investment statements, these offerings are often sufficient to address their overall values.

For those investors who still might prefer more choice, some investment managers allow the investor to narrow down to very specific criteria, even allowing one to opt out or in of particular industries and even particular companies that might be objectionable to an investor or of specific interest.

Of course, there is no one-size-fits-all LGBTQ investor profile. Each investor might have different priorities to emphasize in their own personal investment policy statement. Some investors might desire to be very thorough with their screening and want to retain discretionary control over their holdings while others might be satisfied with social screening that addresses their values but cede the discretionary control to the investment management firm.

Lastly, many other LGBTQ investors simply choose to not involve social screening at all, choosing an approach that does not opt in or exclude any particular company or industry based on ESG or SRI criteria. For some of these investors, they might be comfortable donating money and/or time to LGBTQ causes and that’s the target that works for them.

"Invest in You: Ready. Set. Grow" is a financial wellness and education initiative from CNBC in partnership with Acorns. NBCUniversal and Comcast Ventures are investors in Acorns.

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