LABJ Insider: Cause Investing

LABJ Insider: Cause Investing
Charlie Crumpley

Are California investors really less interested in putting their money in businesses whose causes align with their values? That’s what a new survey suggests.

U.S. Bank recently released findings from its Young Investor Survey and it said, surprisingly, that California investors are less willing than their peers across the United States to sacrifice returns so they could invest in causes that align with their values.

The bank put respondents in two broad groups: active savers, or those who now have investments exclusive of 401(k) plans, and aspiring investors, or those who say they plan to start banking money in the next year. In California, both of those groups are less likely than the rest of Americans to go along with so-called cause investing. Of the active investors, 48% of Californians – compared to 53% of all U.S. investors – said they’d be willing to accept returns below 9% in order to invest based on their personal values. And of the aspiring investors, 50% of Californians – less than the 53% of all U.S. investors – said they’d be willing to do so. And that lower percentage for Californians held consistent across all age groups. 

One possible explanation: Investors in California are really motivated to have their investments help them reach financial stability in this expensive state. According to the survey, 85% of aspiring investors and 89% active investors in California say financial security is their main motivator.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the willingness to invest based on causes went down as the investor aged. For example, of the active investors in California, 58% of the Generation Z members, or those between 18 and 26 years old, were willing to accept a lower return so they could make investments based on their personal beliefs. But only 39% of baby boomers, or those aged 59 and above, were willing to do so.

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James N. Gianopulos, the former chair and chief executive of Paramount Pictures, just added another board duty. He was named a trustee of the World War II Museum in New Orleans, it was announced last week.

Gianopulos, who earlier was chief of 20th Century Fox and is known for making such movies as “Avatar” and “Life of Pi” while there, already has plenty to keep him busy. He is chair of the Motion Picture & Television Fund, on the board of the X Prize Foundation and is a trustee of the Simon Wiesenthal Center.

Also on the museum board is Pete Wilson, the former California governor.

The museum tells the story of the American experience in World War II – why it was fought, how it was won, and what it means today. It opened in 2000 as the National D-Day Museum but has since broadened its focus and is now one of the top attractions in New Orleans.

The Insider is compiled by Editor-in-Chief Charles Crumpley. He can be reached at [email protected].

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