Consumer Demand Boosts 'Socially Conscious' Funds
Sullivan, Deidre, American Banker
Banks are beginning to roll out the welcome mat to mutual funds that follow "socially conscious" investment strategies.
A handful of banks have begun offering such funds, which invest in companies that meet certain litmus tests of environmental, political, or social good.
Strong consumer demand has helped to popularize the funds, which are promoted as a way of "investing with a conscience."
Investments in socially responsible funds, or "green" funds, as they are popularly known, have grown from $40 billion in 1984 to $848 billion in 1991, according to the Social Investment Forum, Minneapolis.
Milwaukee-based Marshall & Ilsley Bank recently started selling the Calvert family of socially responsible mutual funds after it noticed that customers were asking for socially-responsible investment options.
The bank had already been offering Calvert tax-exempt funds when it added the company's stock and bond funds to its menu, according to Steve Schueth, vice president at Calvert.
"That first relationship with our tax-exempt funds opened up more possibilities with M & I," said Mr. Schueth. "Because of consumer interest, we anticipate more potential as the years unfold."
Calvert has also established a relationship with the trust department at Dubuque Bank and Trust in Dubuque, Iowa. …