We are an impact investing firm in Chicago that seeks to generate positive returns by making prudent and disciplined investments on behalf of our investors.
Pekin Hardy Strauss has a long history of socially responsible investing – helping clients ensure that their investment portfolios support not only their financial goals, but also their personal values.
We work with individuals and families to understand the environmental, social, and governance (ESG) characteristics of their portfolios and then to customize their portfolios in support of their social and environmental principles. We can exclude firms or industries that don’t align with a client’s values, and seek out investments with positive ESG characteristics through our rigorous investment process.
We have managed the Appleseed Fund, our go-anywhere, fossil fuel-free, ESG-focused mutual fund with an explicit socially responsible mandate since its inception in 2006. ESG characteristics play a critical role in how we select investments for the fund, as we only invest in companies that pass a series of ESG screens. As researchers, we believe that ESG research increases our knowledge, and increased knowledge decreases our clients’ investment risk. As investors, we believe socially responsible investing can improve investment outcomes by supporting good corporate citizens and avoiding poorly managed firms in our portfolios.
Once we have made an investment in a company, we continue to advocate for more sustainable business practices by engaging with management, voting on shareholder initiatives, and initiating shareholder resolutions:
Shareholder Advocacy and Resolutions
Where appropriate, we initiate shareholder advocacy efforts to encourage boards and management teams to be more transparent and responsible in ESG matters. In some cases, we may file a formal resolution to ratify or request a specific action be taken by a corporate board in the interests of increased sustainability. In the past, the firm has engaged in several successful resolutions influencing change in sustainable reporting, board diversity, board compensation, and other key ESG metrics.
Dialogue and Management
We believe investors can have a significant influence on the companies they own through informal engagement. We use our ongoing conversations with company management to further encourage their commitment to ESG principles.
We vote proxies for our mutual fund shareholders in a manner that considers investors’ interests and that encourages boards to govern companies more responsibly. Our votes support management incentives that we believe are aligned with the creation of long-term value for stakeholders, encourage more transparent reporting on companies’ sustainability initiatives, and bolster boards’ efforts to govern more responsibly.
In addition to our efforts to create a positive impact through our public market investments, we also seek to create direct impact in underserved communities by partnering with and investing in various Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) and community investment funds.
ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) is a long-term investment strategy that considers environmental, social, and corporate governance. We seek to minimize potential downside risk through the analyses of material non-financial factors and implementation of both positive and negative ESG screening. Factors include environmental and sustainability reporting and transparency, regulatory, litigation and reputation risk, shareholder interests and brand integrity, board structure, accountability and executive compensation, and select negative screening.
To better understand how your portfolio aligns with your values or if you want a workshop for your organization, please schedule a complimentary assessment with our ESG investing team in Chicago.
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