Your Guide to Sustainable Investing with Natixis

By Brennan Molina, NECEC Membership Manager

When the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released its report in 2018 on the need for immediate action within 12 years to avoid the worst effects of climate change, it was cause for real thoughtfulness on how we approach everything from our diet to our transportation patterns. One area many of us didn’t instinctively consider was our retirement fund. But there is plenty of indication that how you invest in your retirement can have just as positive an impact on the environment as taking public transportation or joining the Meatless Monday movement.

As a benefit to our members in their quest to help make the future more sustainable, NECEC has partnered with our sponsor Natixis to make environmental, social, and governance (ESG) investing in your company’s retirement fund easier. NECEC has already adopted the Natixis Sustainable Futures Fund for our organization’s own retirement fund, and we’re seeing many organizations throughout the industry transition to Natixis’ model as well.

According to a case study from Social (K), which offers thousands of retirement plans with ESG investing, BW Research saw an immediate positive effect when it adopted the Natixis Sustainable Futures Fund in 2018.

“We selected the Natixis Sustainable Future Funds so our employees could have a simple and easy to understand 401(k) option that seeks to provide strong investment returns. It’s a source of pride for our organization and we reference the funds as a proof point when we discuss our firm’s commitment to social, economic, and environmental equity,” said Phil Jordan of BW Research.

In fact, after adding the Natixis Sustainable Future Funds, BW Research saw a 75% increase in plan participation and contributions increased 228%.

And why shouldn’t it? According to S&P Global, “ESG-focused investment products record returns on par with or better than those built purely for risk-weighted performance, a trend that runs counter to the notion that taking ESG into account detracts from performance.”

Another organization that has made the switch is the Shelton Group, a national leader in marketing and communications focused on sustainability. As the founder and CEO of a mission-driven Shelton Group, Suzanne Shelton said she believes that it’s critical to practice what they preach – to be a leader, not a follower. At the office, recycling, reducing the company's carbon footprint, and focusing on sustainability are standard operating  procedures. But these values weren’t reflected in the company’s retirement plan - which prompted them to explore the Natixis Sustainable Futures Fund.

“It’s not just about hugging trees and saving the planet. We are capitalists as well as environmentalists at Shelton Group. We believe if we can help corporate America see the business value in sustainability, then they’ll keep doing it. Being able to offer the Natixis Sustainable Future Funds to our employees sends a message that this isn’t just a new business development thing we do to get a few clients in the door. This is how we live, these are our values, this is what we believe in.” said Suzanne Shelton, Founder and CEO of Shelton Group.

Long-term returns in this fund have shown themselves to be competitive with traditional investing, but the short-term effects can be just as rewarding. As the BW Research Case Study showed, employee engagement with this type of retirement plan can increase dramatically. But what about the employee feedback for a program like this?

“Using the Natixis Sustainable Future Funds as our QDIA has played a big role in improving the amount employees are investing,” she noted recently. “Prior to using the funds, the average contribution rate was 4.7%. As of December, the average deferral was 7.8% -- that’s a 66% increase,” said Kendra Forsythe, Vice President of Finance & Operations for the Shelton Group.

NECEC has partnered with Natixis because we believe that the future of the clean economy includes where we make investments. Capital can drive the change to a more sustainable future, and these case studies demonstrate that our industry is interested in ESG investing.

We hope to make the transition to sustainable investing easier for you and your company. Our community of NECEC members are already eligible to receive this membership benefit, and we encourage anyone who is interested in learning more about the Natixis Sustainable Futures Fund to reach out to with any questions. And register for our upcoming webinar on the Natixis Sustainable Futures Fund on Wednesday April, 14, 11:00-12:00 p.m. EST for a chance to ask questions, get further details about the Association Plan, and learn how it can enhance your business.

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Brennan Molina

Brennan is NECEC's Membership Manager.