How to avoid investing in 'evil' companies

Kevin Chupka Yahoo Finance

A recent survey from Bankrate.com says that 40% of millennial investors (those between 18 and 29 years of age) prefer “cash” as their main mode of investment. The problem should be pretty clear, cash is really not much of an investment.

Enter Zach Lupei, a 28 year-old student at Harvard Business School. His automated online trading platform, Valued Investing, aims to get his fellow millennials more active in the investing world simply by giving them what they want.

"We want to invest in something that matters to us,” Lupei says. “We saw our parents go through the recession., We watched them lose 30% of their account value in three months. If we’re gonna take the risk, put our money at risk, we want to do it for something that matters.”

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Valued Investing allows users to filter out industries they don’t support (say fracking or fire arms) and put their money more specifically in industries and they care about (clean energy or companies with responsible corporate governance).

It sounds like a good idea but as Yahoo Finance’s Jeff Macke pointed out, sometimes a company being a “little evil” is a good hedge and leads to success in the marketplace.

Lupei finds fault with such an argument. “Companies that are going for short term profits...are kind of missing the big picture. If you’re out there fracking and injecting chemicals into the groundwater you’re putting yourself at risk for significant risk of lawsuits from municipalities in the future.” Lupei also suggests companies polluting the air could one day have to pay the piper, literally, if and when the government gets serious about a carbon tax.

Valued Investing is also hoping to appeal to the millennial set by keeping their fees lower. By automating the entire process and using algorithms to construct portfolios instead of real live human beings, Zach can keep his fees to 0.6% of assets under management as opposed to similar managed funds that can charge north of 1.3%.

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