Values-Based Investment Platform COIN Offers Portfolios Aligned with SDGs

Backed by John Hancock, COIN offers customers eight Impact Areas — including Better Health, Clean Water, Gender Equality and Reducing Waste — to invest in, with as little as $50.

This week, financial services company John Hancock launched COIN — a conscious investing platform to help people make a difference with their money by investing in a personalized mix of companies whose impact is aligned with their values. COIN lets customers invest directly in companies contributing toward eight Impact Areas aligned with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

"With COIN, we're asking people to make a simple choice — do you want to invest in progress, or the status quo?" said CEO Megan Schleck. "Anyone can become an investor, and we're thrilled to offer everyone, no matter their knowledge or experience, the opportunity to help grow their finances while doing good in the areas that matter most to them. COIN customers can know their dollars are contributing to the positive impacts they want to see."

Each year, significant amounts of money are spent on sustainable development activities worldwide; but since the launch of the SDGs in 2015, more and more initiatives and tools have been created to drive the much-needed capital toward achieving them and ensuring the validity and efficacy of projects in this area. In 2017, after the UN Secretary General reported sluggish progress on the SDGs, Gold Standard — a standard and certification body established by World Wildlife Fund that works to catalyze action for climate security and sustainable development — launched the Gold Standard for the Global Goals, to make it easier for businesses, governments and investors to measure, track and report the full range of benefits they have contributed to, while safeguarding organizations against accusations of greenwashing.

But last September, a report from the Global Impact Investing Network highlighted the continued “dire” need for impact investors to raise and direct new capital to help meet the SDGs by 2030. In January, another tool for guiding funding emerged from Verra — a Washington, DC-based non-profit that manages standards for reducing GHG emissions, improving livelihoods and protecting natural resources — with the Sustainable Development Verified Impact Standard (SD VISta) — a framework for projects to define, and consistently report on, their most relevant and valuable project outcomes, to unlock new finance sources to support and scale up high-impact efforts to deliver sustainable development benefits.

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Now, with COIN, John Hancock offers another tool for private investors to help make their own contribution, at any level that they can afford. To start an account with COIN, customers identify the three Impact Areas that matter most to them and can start investing with as little as $50. Customers own direct shares of the companies in their portfolio, which are chosen by scoring and ranking a company's contribution to a specific Impact Area through a proprietary methodology aligned to the SDGs. Each company undergoes extensive review on how well their goals, business revenues, and corporate conduct support positive change in each Impact Area.

Measurements of impact for companies in each Impact Area include but are not limited to: 

  • Gender Equality: The strength of a company's commitment to gender equality, the percentage of women in senior management and the strength of gender diversity programs and anti-discrimination policies.  

  • Climate Action: The strength of a company's climate goals and commitment to renewable energy, the reduction of greenhouse gases across all operations and the percentage of revenue from clean and renewable energy products and services. 

  • Better Health: Steps companies have taken to set employee health and safety programs, the promotion of low-cost medical services and medicines globally, and the percentage of revenue spent on R&D for rare diseases. 

  • Clean Water: A company's percentage of revenue from products used in water filtration and treatment, the number and severity of water pollution incidents, and its commitment to improving water use in operations. 

  • Reducing Waste: A company's percentage of revenue from recycling and waste-reduction operations, and from resource-efficient materials, products and services; and its ongoing reduction of packaging and end-consumer waste from products

  • Quality Work: A company's employee turnover and layoff history, its presence of strong training and development programs and the number and severity of employee safety incidents, including within the supply chain. 

  • Modern Cities: A company's efforts to foster innovation to make cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable, such as the percentage of revenue generated from green buildings, and the number and severity of data privacy incidents. 

  • Shared Prosperity: A company's commitment to providing financial access, including loans and investments, in underserved communities, the percentage of revenue from businesses supporting food production and commitment to greater access to basic nutrition.

"At John Hancock, we're committed to making our customers’ decisions easier and lives better, and incubating COIN is a perfect example of that customer-centric ambition coming to life," said Marianne Harrison, president and CEO of John Hancock. "Today's consumer wants to know where their dollars are going, and how they are impacting the world. That's why we're proud to support COIN in offering a digital financial solution that helps people invest in companies supporting what matters most to them."

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