Socially conscious investing is more than just a fad

Robo-advisors help address the need for sustainable, responsible and impact investing.


Earthfolio is an online investment advisor for investors who only want ESG companies in their portfolios.

According to the company website, “Every portfolio we build invests exclusively in a broad spectrum of sustainable mutual funds that screen on up to ten environmental, social, and governance, criteria.”

Like other robo-advisors, Earthfolio begins with a brief questionnaire. The investor’s answers guide the asset allocation which aligns the user’s goals and risk tolerance with her asset allocation (percent invested in each type of fund). The company also rebalances and manages the investments. This is where the similarity with other robo-advisors ends.

In general, Earthfolio’s available investment funds, most of which lean towards the socially conscious realm, are not low fee index funds but higher cost professionally managed offerings. This leads to greater underlying costs. It also creates a challenge for this robo to beat the indexes.

Unlike many of Earthfolio’s robo-advisory peers, this company offers an impact investing menu of both stock and bond funds by a variety of providers. A sample of the available Earthfolio funds includes Calvert Green Bond (CGAFX), TIAA-CREF Social Choice Bond (TSBRX), CRA Qualified Investment (CRATX), Access Capital Community (ACASX) and more.

Earthfolio’s bond and stock funds cover the socially conscious investing landscape and invest in firms committed to these socially responsible spheres:

  • Environment
  • Clean Tech
  • Equality & Diversity
  • Human Rights
  • Fair Labor
  • Animal Welfare
  • Non-Violence
  • Corporate Governance
  • Healthy Living
  • Community Development
  • Fossil-Fuel-Free
  • Shareholder Advocacy

Earthfolio is a viable choice for the diehard socially conscious robo-advisor investor, who wants her entire portfolio to be invested in line with her values. Earthfolio’s management fee is 0.50%, like other robo-advisors, yet the underlying fund management fees are a bit pricey. Finally, there may be lower cost impact investing robo-advisory alternatives to meet a similar end.

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