Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, and his wife, Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex, are the latest to join the boom in sustainable investing as they follow Wall Street in embracing a multitrillion-dollar industry.
The couple is joining Ethic, a $1.3 billion (R19.5 billion) investing fund in New York, as "impact partners" in the hope of raising awareness around issues such as racial injustice, climate change and income equality, said co-founder Jay Lipman. They backed the firm earlier this year.
With environmental, social and governance investing now part of mainstream finance, regulators have started paying more attention to how well fund managers’ claims of sustainability match their actions. And with about $35 trillion parked in ESG assets, according to the Global Sustainable Investment Alliance, there’s growing concern that the label is often misused, a practice known as greenwashing.
"Sustainable investing is certainly in vogue right now but likely for the wrong reasons," said Lisa Sachs, who heads Columbia University’s Center on Sustainable Investment. "We shouldn’t confuse holding a value-aligned portfolio and mitigating exposure to risk with addressing the major and urgent underlying issues."
Ethic was started in 2015 and says it creates bespoke investments for its customers based on the social and environmental issues they care about the most. Lipman said investors can address society’s biggest challenges through collectively divesting from polluters and companies that perpetuate racial discrimination such as the private prison system.
Since stepping away from their UK royal duties, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex have signed deals with companies including Netflix. The couple moved to the US last year. The New York Times was first to report their sustainable investment deal.