Q & A with Erin Santspree

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Erin Santspree, a financial advisor from Merrill Lynch, joined us in April to talk about impact investing and we sat down with her after to talk a little more!

Q: Why do you do what you do?

A: As a Financial Advisor I enjoy working with people, businesses and institutions on planning for what matters most to them and how their financial well-being plays a significant role in achieving their goals.

With respect to Impact Investing, I found there was a huge gap for investors in awareness of the topic and lack of understanding in what it means to invest impactfully as well as proper guidance on how to incorporate it into their financial picture.  I wanted to fix that.   The desire is there for many investors but many just haven’t known where to go to do it so I decided to be a resource for those investors looking to incorporate this into their financial picture.

Q: What are some of the ways to think about impact investing?

A: There are four ways to think about impact investing. Socially responsible, Sustainable, Thematic, and Impact First. 

Socially responsible investing screens out entities based on faith-based or other personal preferences. Companies that are in conflict with religious beliefs or support the production and use of things like tobacco or alcohol. Sustainable investing generally means that you are looking for companies that excel at ESG factors (more on that later). So that means companies that are leasers in fair trade and factory worker safety and promote and achieve sustainability. Thematic investing focuses on environmental or social themes. These funds generally target growth in green initiatives, gender equality, diversity, and healthcare. Impact first investing is dedicated to addressing specific social or environmental concerns using market-based solutions. These investments are generally focused on things like improving early childhood education; reducing prisoner recidivism, and addressing homelessness.

There are a lot of different ways to invest with an impact but it is important to talk with someone who know about different funds and has the resources to look at the histories of each.

Q: You mentioned ESG Factors. What are those and can I find them online?

A: ESG stands for environmental, social, and governance. So when we invest in a company that has great ESG factors it means that the company excels on an environmental, social, and governance basis. Historically, these are the most reliable companies. ESG factors also help us to really see how a company is performing on three factors regardless of their marketing campaigns that promote sustainability.

There is no federal reporting mandate for ESG factors but, more and more often we see companies reporting on their ESG data. If a company reports this data, you generally can view it online. With that in mind, it is best to consult a financial advisor about what the ESG data mean and how it would add to your portfolio.

Q: Why should I work with a financial advisor?

A: There’s many reasons to work with a financial advisor, some choose to because they don’t have enough time, understanding or desire to focus on their financial picture.  By working w a financial advisor you get the vast knowledge, resources and capabilities they bring to  the table.  Others need someone who they can work with to help articulate their goals, determine if they’re obtainable and develop ways to achieve them. We talk to our clients about the 7 life priorities- family, health, work, home, finance, leisure and giving and how they’re important to you and play an integral role in planning. Finally having a good relationship with an advisor can also help uncover financial opportunities as well as risks in your financial picture that may otherwise be missed without working with a professional.

Want to learn more? Erin can be reached at [email protected] or (518) 245-8125.

We hope you’ll join us for our final conversation before summer with Martel Catalano of Beyond My Battle. Click here to learn more!

Megan Harris-Pero