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Financial Advisors Can Use The SDGs To Facilitate Discussions With Their Clients

Through my conversations with financial advisors and advisory firms, many tell me that they are interested in bringing impact investing opportunities to their clients. For some, it’s a natural topic that arises from the clients’ own interests. For others, it can be a tricky topic to talk through, particularly when there are no explicit goals or interests to set an investment framework for.

This challenge is also shared by the broader impact investing community. We are all working towards shared goals, but without a specific framework and target indicators, productive discussions on strategy, methods, and accomplishments can be hindered.

Recently at the SRI Conference and other events throughout this year, I’ve noticed an increase in discussion around the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and their role in guiding impact investments. The SDGs are 17 global goals set by the UN. They cover issues related to equity and sustainability, like, health, education, gender equality, and climate change. They have specific indicators to measure progress and a timeframe to achieve them by (2030), both which help to drive a shared understanding and urgency of this work.

When the SDGs were first announced, the UN made a call to communities worldwide, stating that both public and private institutions have a role to play in their progress. We know that government funding and philanthropy alone cannot address the world’s problems.

Much of the SDGs overlap and align with existing impact investors' own interests and goals, including ours at Calvert Impact Capital. The SDGs provide us with a broader, global framework to operate with and contribute to shared goals, across organizations, industries, and borders. We are seeing groups like the Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN), Toniic, ImpactAlpha, and US SIF embracing the SDGs as a way to unite the impact investing space and create a standard for measurement and progress.

Financial advisors too can embrace the SDGs and use them to facilitate conversations with their clients. By bridging the topic, advisors have the opportunity to understand more of the unique causes and interests of their clients and where they may be interested in investing in. It also allows advisors to change their own narrative with clients by focusing on what their money is doing and the impact it’s having, rather than solely focusing on financial gains.

At the very least, the SDGs are an inspiration and a direct challenge to us all to work towards a more equitable and sustainable world. It is up to us to use and adopt them, through our work both as investors and advisors.