Don’t conflate diversity and ESG

Societal issues remain at the fore of the American mindset right now. And when emotions reach the heights that they have, it becomes common – and risky – to conflate issues that are similar but not the same. In that vein, I want to address a topic that I consider enormously important for understanding the future of the industry: ESG is not diversity. ESG is an investment strategy. Period.  

Rather than making investment decisions using metrics like price-to-earnings ratios or Bollinger Bands, they’re based on policies and practices that meet a set of environmental, societal and governance expectations. But the ultimate goal of ESG is to deliver investment returns. 

Diversity is far more important. Diversity means complete representation throughout a community. For the financial advice community, achieving diversity represents its future. 

It’s well documented that there is a gap in access and use of financial advice and planning between different communities. If you believe, as I do, that financial advice and planning provide real benefits, then you should pursue diversity to make this essential service available to all communities.  

To me, that difference is why we must never conflate ESG and diversity.