Morningstar Advisor - October/November 2012 - (Page 13)
Jennifer Lazarus, CFP, Lazarus Financial Planning
effecting positive change. With the fund managers where I have entrusted my money, I feel like that is happening.” Lazarus is accustomed to getting questions about performance of SRI funds. She has gathered research reports and data that show there is essentially no difference in performance between SRI and indexing strategies. She attends conferences, reads academic papers, and relies on data aggregated at USSIF.org, the website for the Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment.
How she caught our eye: Has strong socially responsible approach to running her practice and investing. Career path: After graduating from Miami University in Ohio, joined the Peace Corps in 1994, serving in Chad. After returning in 1996, taught high school history and in elementary school. Worked as an associate planner at Woodward Financial Advisors from 2003 to 2005 while completing CFP courses. Founded Lazarus Financial Planning in 2005. Personal: Married. Co-dean of NAPFA University School of Communications, columnist for NAPFA
Advisor, and local NAPFA study group leader. Works to help local farmers gain access to capital for their small farms and is member of advisory board for Accion Emprendedora, a nonprofit that promotes economic development of Hispanic small-business owners in North Carolina. Favorite investments: Portfolio 21 Global Equity PORTX, Appleseed APPLX, CRA Qualified Investment CRAIX, Parnassus Equity Income PRBLX, Pax World International PXIRX, Envest Microfinance, RSF Social Finance, MicroPlace, Self-Help Credit Union, Slow Money.
Her investment strategy doesn’t stop with mutual funds. She is a proponent of using community investments—financing for local projects and small businesses that could not be funded using more-traditional methods. “At their core, they are Main Street investments,” she says. “You have Wall Street over there, and Main Street over here. A lot of my clients feel a stronger heart connection to the community investments.” She says that it’s easy to get this exposure through emergency-fund cash parked at an institution such as Self-Help Credit Union in North Carolina, which specializes in financing ventures in low-income, rural, and minority communities. Lazarus has worked from her home for years. Depending on the weather, client meetings take place at her dining room table, on her screened porch, or in her yard. Creating a relaxed environment is something she strives for, because she’s aware that many clients are nervous about the financialplanning process. “Often, people have said, ‘Thank you for this environment. It’s so soothing. I already have so much anxiety about my money; it’s so refreshing to be here.’” K
Kate Stalter is a freelance financial journalist.
from sin stocks. But it’s transformed to be more about looking for companies that have positive attributes.” A key component of a client engagement is investment education. Here, Lazarus explains not only the philosophy behind SRI but also her reasons for using actively managed funds. “These active managers are looking at the financials, which all active managers look at, but they also look at environmental factors, like pollution prevention, resource management, reduced emission, climate impact,” she says.
She acknowledges that it’s not possible to find the perfect company, citing the example of Nike NIKE. While the apparel maker has been lauded for its progress in the area of sustainability, it has also been criticized for labor issues in the supply chain. But she looks to SRI managers as catalysts for change in the companies they own. “When I buy a share of a mutual fund, I want the manager to bring to the attention of corporate management any of the underlying issues,” she says. “For my money, I want to be
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Morningstar Advisor - October/November 2012
Morningstar Advisor - October/November 2012
Letter From the Editor
Do You Use Factor-Investing Strategies?
Practicing What She Preaches
How to Determine the True Price of ETFs
The Quant Factor
Managers Dispute the Death of Equities
Investments á la Carte
Five Inconvenient Truths of Manager Research
Health Care’s Outlook Clarifies
Exploring the World of Factors
Uncloaking the Alpha Machine
Factor Strategies Gain Footholds in Practices
Fitting Factors Into the Formula
Clients Have a Friend in Luther King
Less-Liquid Holdings Mean More-Solid Results
Retirement-Withdrawal Strategies Quantified
Amid Turmoil, Don’t Discount Foreign Equities
Our Favorite Mutual Funds
50 Most-Popular Equity ETFs
Undervalued Stocks With Wide Moats
Should I Stay or Should I Go?
Morningstar Advisor - October/November 2012