A portfolio manager with a social conscience

Responsible investing expert on what first sparked her interest and why millennials want their money to reflect their values

A portfolio manager with a social conscience

Patti Dolan admits she can’t say no. It explains why she is a board member on three organisations outside her demanding day job as portfolio manager with SAGE Connected Investing, Raymond James.

These extra roles include sharing her expertise with Vibrant Communities Calgary, a non-profit that works towards long-term strategies to address the causes of poverty in Calgary.

Dolan’s willingness to give back to her community also speaks to how she manages other people’s money: with a social conscience. Dolan specialises in responsible investing and has been a firm believer in that strategy since the mid-nineties, when the approach was in its infancy.

She will bring her advice in that area to the millennial panel during Wealth Professional’s Leadership and Tech summit on May 30 at the Westin Harbour Castle in Toronto. The younger generation, she said, are more in tune with aligning their values to their career and investments.

During the discussion, Dolan is likely to address the misconception that ESG investing means sacrificing on returns. Since the days when research work on a fledgling Dow Jones index sparked her interest, she said that it’s been clear that straying from a responsible investing strategy affects a company’s bottom line.

She said: “Back in the 1990s when I was setting my practice up, I had a client that was a professor and she asked me to do some research on an index that was being established back then – the Dow Jones Sustainability Index.

“There were only 10 companies worldwide that were chosen for the index initially and three of those companies were from Calgary, so that really got my interest. [It showed] that you could look at companies differently, not just financially, and that other aspects had a big impact on how the company was run and, in the end, its profitability.

“If they run a tight ship, then there’s usually not a problem but if there are underlying issues that aren’t showing up on the financial statements they will sooner or later affect the bottom line.”

Dolan is proud that ESG has become part of normal practice and no longer considered niche. She highlights the fact that Ontario actually has a regulation that ensures a pension scheme has to say if they are screening for ESG issues.

For millennials, this sense of duty to our planet when it comes to climate change, for example, or human rights when it comes to supply chains, are second nature. Social media, said Dolan, means there is so much information out there to devour.

She said: “They want more meaning in everything they do and their investments are a big one. They are just much more savvy with information and they have a better alignment of their values and aligning their careers to values. It’s a natural step to look at their investment also.”

For more details about the Wealth Professional Leadership and Tech Summit on May 30, along with bios on the event speakers and how to buy tickets, go to http://www.wealthprofessionalsummit.ca/buy-ticket/