Having a strong sense of purpose is important for any organization, particularly for those of us in financial services. At Edward Jones, for example, everything we do is fueled by our purpose to improve the lives of our clients and colleagues, and together, better our communities and society.
While our company purpose is paramount to us, the focus of our purpose is outside the four walls of our organization. We’re intentionally attuned to partnering with our clients to help them discover their sense of purpose, and for two good reasons. First, it enables us to provide services that give clients an opportunity to bring their purpose to life in ways that are important to them. Second, clients are increasingly interested in working only with companies that align with their core values.
While our company purpose is paramount to us, the focus of our purpose is outside the four walls of our organization. We’re intentionally attuned to partnering with our clients to help them discover their sense of purpose, and for two good reasons.
One way in which we’re doing this is in the area of sustainable investing – offering our clients ways to consider environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria in their portfolios. Many studies show that a growing number of individual investors want to make a positive impact with their money. In fact, 33% of total assets under professional management in the United States – that’s one out of every three dollars – is already being invested using some type of sustainable strategy, according to a 2020 report from U.S. SIF: The Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment. Additionally, insights and industry studies tell us that demand is increasing, especially among certain kinds of clients.
We believe sustainable investments can help our clients achieve their financial goals as part of a diversified portfolio, and we are working to make more sustainable investments available to them while also helping them understand all the options available and any associated risks.
We’re also offering our clients opportunities to support causes that are important to them and do it in a way that helps their contributions go even further. We do it through a donor-advised fund, or DAF, that we call the Edward Jones Charitable Gift Fund. Through the Charitable Gift Fund, clients make an irrevocable contribution for which they receive an immediate tax deduction. Over time, they can then direct grant requests to IRS-approved public charities.
The money in the fund is invested based on the client’s preferences, giving it the potential to grow tax-free, thus expanding their charitable impact. It’s a great option for clients who want their charitable giving to be tax-deductible, but don’t give enough each year to itemize their deductions. It’s also helpful for clients who own investments that have significantly increased in value, or for those who have experienced an unusually high-income year, as the Charitable Gift Fund can help alleviate tax burdens while the charities receive more proceeds than if the client gifted post-tax income. Edward Jones, its employees and financial advisors cannot provide tax or legal advice. Investors should consult their attorney or qualified tax advisor regarding their situation.
Both sustainable investing and the Charitable Gift Fund make sense because they not only give our clients opportunities to use their money in a way that is aligned with their personal purpose, but they also can help clients make progress toward their financial goals.
These are examples of the kind of service that clients throughout the industry are increasingly coming to expect. They aren’t looking for just financial advice; in many cases, what they seek is more like guidance around holistic financial wellness. If you or your firm aren’t already offering these kinds of services – or planning to – the time to start is now.