Listen: Benjamin Franklin famously called on American business leaders more than two centuries ago to "Do well by doing good." To him, that meant creating companies that were not just about the bottom line, but also that helped foster happier and healthier communities. Now, as 2021 approaches and the world recovers from the greatest crisis of our lifetimes, sustainable investing is a bigger discussion than ever. What does it mean, and how does it not only help the environment and societies but also build your bottom line? That's the topic of the latest episode of Living Beyond Borders.
Betty Liu, Executive Vice Chairman for NYSE Group, provides her perspective:
What role does diversity play in investing?
So, diversity has played an increasingly important role in investing. In an earlier episode, I talked about ESG - that's environmental, social and governance - and ESG factoring more into investment decisions. Diversity is a key component of ESG. It's seen as crucial in looking at good governance and good decision making. So, a growing number of investors are looking at diversity as a metric to show whether or not this company is worthy to invest in.
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What is ESG?
ESG stands for Environmental Social Governance. These are factors that investors use to measure the societal and sustainable impact of their investment in a particular company.
What should be a bigger priority for me: saving for my children's education or saving for retirement?
This one hurts me. It hurts me to say this, because I've got children, and I really like 'em a lot. It's gotta be your retirement. I know that doesn't feel right as a parent, but if you have to make a choice, there are scholarships and there are loans for college. Nobody ever got a scholarship for retirement. And so this is one where you need to strap your oxygen mask on before assisting others, and — as much as it hurts me — to put yourself first.
The stock market's had a good year so far. Is now a good time to invest?
Yeah! Wow, what a difference. Remember December? I remember sitting, December 24th, when the market was down like 2.4 or 2.5% and it was just like [choking sound]. And it's up 16% since then. Now it feels like, gosh, maybe this isn't a good time to invest. But let's be perfectly clear: You have no idea. And anybody who says they have an idea has no idea. No one knows where the market is going from one week or one year to the next. There are just too many factors into it. So you want to — for those of you who are familiar with the term — dollar-cost average. For those of you who aren't, you want to invest through up markets and down, a bit out of every paycheck, sometimes it'll be lower, sometimes it'll be higher, and then it evens out over time which doesn't feel sexy, but actually is very sexy. It's very sexy in order to earn market returns, because most folks don't.
And go deeper on topics like cybersecurity and artificial intelligence at Microsoft on The Issues.
Question 1: Over the past 20 years, how have individual investors done? What kind of returns have they had?
Well, back up. We know that active managers tend to underperform the markets by about the amount of fees — mutual fund managers underperform by about the amount of fees. Over the past 20 years, individual investors have done even worse. So at a time when, according to Dalbar, the stock market has gone up annually 5.6, 5.8%, bonds have gone up annually 4.5%, individual investors — their money has gone up annually about 1.9%. So that doesn't even keep up with inflation, which is estimated to be 2.2%. Why is this? Because we sometimes are our worst enemies. I mean there are many reasons for it. But you over-trade, you tend to panic when times are tough, markets are bad, and you're trading in and out at the wrong time.
Question 2: My company doesn't report its gender pay gap, so it doesn't have one … right?
Uh, wrong. On average, if women are making 80 cents to a man's dollar — sometimes it's 78 cents, sometimes it's 82 cents — then on average, your company has a gender pay gap. And that can be even if it's great people who are there, because in a society in which men have been socialized to negotiate and women have been socialized not to, and bosses — who are just looking for the bottom line — if someone asks for the money they'll give it to them, and if they don't, they won't … you've got a gender pay gap. So if your company isn't reporting one, ask them to.
And go deeper on topics like cybersecurity and artificial intelligence at Microsoft on The Issues