Sustainable Investing

“Sustainable investing” is a big term with many meanings—a path to investment performance, a way to reflect your values, an opportunity to make an impact on the world. We aim to help you determine exactly what you want to achieve through sustainable investing, and deliver to you a solution built on first-rate performance, thoughtful advice and the highest level of service.

Why Sustainable Investing?

Sustainable investing makes sense for a lot of reasons. Smart investors all over the world are realizing how the intersection of financial, social and environmental ideas can lead to better investment results as well as a better foundation for society.

In short, sustainable investing is a way for individuals, families and institutions to achieve a broader set of goals through their investment decisions. We seek to truly understand what you want to achieve, help you consider your options and develop a solution that helps you fulfill your specific objectives.

Our Thinking

In our view, sustainable investing does not have to be a tradeoff between your values and your investment returns. Many of the things that our clients care about, from conservation of natural resources to solutions for global food and health care challenges, are being tackled by smart companies as ways to win in their markets. This kind of purposeful thinking has helped many companies to grow their revenues, reduce costs, and increase market share—and set them up for success as the world moves in a more sustainable direction.

In this TEDx talk, Karina Funk walks you through this philosophy, shattering many widely-held preconceptions about sustainable investing.

It's time to eradicate this notion of a tradeoff. You can have it both ways. Karina Funk, TEDx Wilmington,
October 28, 2015

Starting the Conversation

Regardless of who you are, or how much knowledge about the topic you are bringing to the table, we can help you find answers to your big questions about sustainable investing, and move forward with a plan that makes sense for you. Use the drop-down menus below for a glimpse at how we might start that conversation with you.

am an individual or family
represent an institution
and I am
new to
familiar with
sustainable investing.

In recent years sustainable investing has seen a flood of new entrants and new products. All told, the space is not an easy one to tackle for new investors--you first need to figure out exactly what your goals are, then which strategies will help you get there, and finally how to put these pieces together as part of a full solution. 

We believe the best starting point is a focused conversation about your goals, beliefs, values and priorities. That clear understanding is critical so we can then help you evaluate various solutions, determine which are best for you, and set an appropriate pace for adopting those solutions.

We greatly appreciate the opportunity to speak with experienced sustainable investors. This space is constantly evolving and we try to constantly remain in “learning mode.” We never want to assume that we know all the answers, and over the years our clients and network have been an extremely valuable source of ideas and insights for us.

You may already have some clear objectives in mind when it comes to values alignment or impact goals. Brown Advisory portfolio managers can leverage our sustainability research, which is used in managing our own strategies as well as helping us to select external managers, to help you build a thoughtful and sustainable portfolio that addresses your specific needs.

Institutional investors have led the way in sustainable investing. According to US SIF, a leading sustainable investing trade association, institutions represent the bulk of the more than $4 trillion in sustainable investments in the U.S.

Your institution may face a complex task as it considers sustainable investing. You need to reconcile your organizational mission, fiduciary obligations, financial requirements and stakeholder desires within a single investment program. We are experienced in helping staff, boards and investment committees work through these issues to find the right approach, whether that takes the form of distinct investment strategies, a more comprehensive solution involving asset allocation and manager selection, or even assistance in enhancing the organization’s investment policy.

We greatly appreciate the opportunity to speak with experienced sustainable investors. This space is constantly evolving and we try to constantly remain in “learning mode.” We never want to assume that we know all the answers, and over the years our clients and network have been an extremely valuable source of ideas and insights for us.

In many cases, institutions with experience in sustainable investing come to us with requests that clearly delineate the organization’s interests and requirements. Your organization may seek a single-strategy solution for a specific asset class or a broader outsourced chief investment officer (OCIO) solution. We have a great deal of experience delivering a variety of solutions to all kinds of institutions, and we adapt our sustainable investment offerings to meet the specific needs of each unique organization we serve.

How We Get it Done

Sustainable investing is not a new endeavor for us. It’s just a new way to frame our conversations with clients about what they want to achieve, and how we plan to help them achieve it.

For over twenty years, we have focused on delivering performance, advice and service to our clients, and our approach is no different when it comes to sustainable investing. We begin with advice—an in-depth engagement and discovery process to learn exactly how you view the intersection of your values with your portfolio. Then, we focus on performance—delivered via a variety of solutions (highlighted below) to serve a variety of client objectives. Finally, we seek to ensure the highest level of service, through compliance with your investment criteria, specialized reporting, and regular discussions with you to ensure that we keep pace with your views and beliefs over time.


Screening is a rules-based approach that effectively draws a line in the sand to ensure that portfolio holdings are in alignment with investor values.

There are a variety of ways to screen an investment portfolio. One can exclude companies that engage in undesired practices, or specifically include companies that pursue desired practices.

Screening has been practiced for hundreds of years, and yet it can still lead to operational challenges, and in some cases influence performance results. We regularly work with clients to understand their needs in this area and develop plans that make sense for them.

Sustainable Alpha

Investors can use sustainability research to help them make smarter decisions.

A growing number of innovative managers are finding that they can improve long-term portfolio returns by identifying risks and opportunities rooted in environmental, social or governance (ESG) factors. These factors may be less apparent to managers that use a more traditional research lens.

We manage several strategies that focus on driving long-term portfolio returns through sustainability research. These include our Large-Cap Sustainable Growth, Core Sustainable Fixed Income and Tax-Exempt Sustainable Fixed Income strategies. We are also working to integrate ESG research across all of our investment strategies. For more information, we encourage you to read our 2016 Transparency Report that we produce as a signatory to the UN Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI).

If you seek a solution that includes asset allocation and manager selection and incorporates sustainability, we can help. We conduct extensive due diligence to identify the managers and strategies that we believe to be the very best in the sustainable investment space, and use these to build portfolios for clients that fulfill their specific performance, values and impact goals.


Impact investing goes beyond an expression of your beliefs—it deploys capital to make real progress on issues you care about.

The term “impact” has gained tremendous traction in recent years—it refers to investment strategies that produce measurable change in the world. Impact can be achieved in many ways—for example, our Core Sustainable Fixed Income strategy seeks out bonds whose proceeds will be used to fund positive environmental projects. For certain qualified purchasers, we can assist with developing customized impact portfolios that are tailored to specific societal outcomes.

Shareholder Engagement and Proxy Voting:

Investment advisors often serve as their clients’ voice with regard to communicating with companies held in investment portfolios. This role involves direct engagement with company management as well as indirect communication through the voting of proxies on behalf of their clients.

We regularly engage with company management teams in discussions about how sustainable business decisions can benefit corporate results through increased revenue, reduced cost or enhanced franchise value. Additionally, we use our ESG research as well as advice from an unbiased third-party service to guide our proxy voting process.

Our Sustainable Investing Advisory Board

We greatly value outside perspectives at our firm, and specifically seek out insight and guidance from the leaders and thinkers that sit on our governing and advisory boards. Our Sustainable Investing Advisory Board of leading academics, policy experts and practitioners is working alongside us as we develop our sustainable investing solutions over time. Outside experts Daniel Esty, Kate Gordon, Martin Kaplan and Mamie Parker serve alongside several of our senior executives on the Advisory Board; each of these four individuals bring extremely valuable and diverse viewpoints to the table and have quickly become essential to our sustainable investing effort.

Daniel Esty

Dan Esty is the Hillhouse Professor at Yale University with primary appointments at Yale’s Environment and Law Schools and a secondary appointment at the Yale School of Management. He serves as director of the Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy (www.yale.edu/envirocenter) and on the Advisory Board of the Yale Center for Business and the Environment (www.yale.edu/CBEY), which he founded in 2007. Professor Esty is the author or editor of ten books and dozens of articles on environmental protection, energy, and sustainability— and their connections to corporate  strategy, competitiveness, trade, and economic success.  His prizewinning volume, Green to Gold: How Smart Companies Use Environmental Strategy to Innovate, Create Value, and Build Competitive Advantage, was recently named the top-selling “green business” book of the past decade.

Kate Gordon

Kate Gordon is a Senior Advisor at the Paulson Institute, where she provides overall strategy and coordination for the Institute’s climate change, air quality, and sustainable urbanization programs both in the US and China. She is also a nonresident Fellow at the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University and a regular contributor to the Wall Street Journal as one of the paper’s “Energy Experts.” Gordon is a nationally recognized expert on the intersection of clean energy and economic development. Before joining the Paulson Institute, she was the Founding Director of the “Risky Business Project,” co-chaired by Michael Bloomberg, Henry Paulson, and Tom Steyer, and focused on the economic risks the U.S. faces from unmitigated climate change. Gordon took on this project in her role as Senior Vice President for Climate and Energy at Next Generation, a non-partisan think tank based in San Francisco, where she worked on California policy development as well as large-scale national communications and research projects. Earlier in her career Gordon served as Vice President of Energy and Environment at the Washington D.C.-based Center for American Progress, where helped develop and author policy recommendations related to the Congressional cap-and-trade negotiations, Gulf oil spill, and American Reinvestment and Recovery Act implementation. Prior to CAP, Gordon was the Co-Director of the national Apollo Alliance (now part of the Blue Green Alliance). She still serves on the Apollo Alliance board, as well as on the board of Vote Solar. Gordon earned a law degree and a master’s degree in city planning from the University of California-Berkeley, and an undergraduate degree from Wesleyan University.

Martin Kaplan

Martin S. Kaplan is a retired partner of Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr, and has extensive experience advising public and private corporations, non-profit organizations and charitable foundations. Mr. Kaplan spent his entire career at Wilmer Hale in Boston and New York, and its predecessor Hale and Dorr, where he chaired its Corporate Practice. He is a graduate of Columbia College and Harvard Law School. As Managing Trustee of the V. Kann Rasmussen Foundation (VKRF) and Trustee of the Germeshausen Foundation, he was instrumental in promoting their progressive grantmaking relating to the environment and other causes.

He played a key role in organizing the Consortium for Conservation Medicine, the EcoHealth Alliance, and Grist, the largest online environmental news service. At VKRF, he provided leadership in supporting environmental programs at Harvard, Columbia, MIT, Yale and other universities. As Chair of the Massachusetts Board of Education (1992-96), appointed by Gov. William F. Weld, he was a leader of the Education Reform Movement, and served as a member of the Education Commission of the States and a director of the National Association of State Boards of Education. For ten years, he was a member of the board of the Boston Foundation, one of the largest community foundations and chaired its Program Committee. He is an emeritus member of the Boston Symphony Orchestra Board of Overseers. Mr. Kaplan is married to Wendy Tarlow Kaplan, an independent art curator. They live in New York and Lenox, Massachusetts and share five children, eleven grandchildren, and interests in art, music, travel and mediocre golf.

Mamie Parker

Dr. Parker is Founder and CEO of Ma Parker and Associates in the Washington, D. C. area.  She is an efficiency executive coach, facilitator, and public speaker with clients in agencies such as the Bureau of Land Management, Fish and Wildlife Service, National Wild Turkey Association, Ducks Unlimited and Maryland Department of Labor. Dr. Mamie Parker is the former Assistant Director of Fisheries and Habitat Conservation at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS). Prior to this position, she made history when appointed the first African American the FWS Regional Director of the 13 Northeastern states. She served as the Ecosystem Coordinator in the Great Lakes and Big Rivers Region and worked in many programs including the national fish hatcheries, national wetlands and coastal mapping, contaminants, invasive species, marine mammals, wetland restoration  and protection programs among others. Parker is a leader in various organizations  and serves as a Board of Directors of the National Wildlife Refuge Association; Defenders of Wildlife; and the Chesapeake Conservation Partnership Steering Committee. The Council of World Women Leaders awarded her with an Aspen Institute fellowship.

Let's Talk

If you are interested in starting a conversation with us about sustainable investing, please provide us with your contact information below.

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*The value of your investments can fall as well as rise and you may get back less than you invested.