Pro tips Q&A with Sister Pat Daly, the nun who says investing should be greener

This week we spoke with Sister Pat Daly how to craft a portfolio that reflects your values while still meeting your financial goals.

Myelle Lansat


Myelle Lansat

Myelle Lansat

News Editor

Myelle Lansat is a news editor at Policygenius, where she writes the Easy Money newsletter and covers insurance and personal finance. Previously, she was a personal finance writer at CNBC and Acorns, and a reporter for Business Insider.

Published April 21, 2021 | 2 min read

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Sister Pat Daly joined the Dominical congregation of Caldwell, New Jersey in 1976. After joining she learned her congregation, like  other religious organizations, invested its assets to financially support the sisterhood. Daly saw an opportunity to invest in socially responsible and environmentally conscious companies. She’s now the director of corporate responsibility and impact investing for her congregation. Throughout her career, Daly has also worked with banks to create socially responsible investment strategy models.  

This week, we caught up with Daly and spoke about what shaped her investment style and how to craft a portfolio that reflects your values while still meeting your financial goals. 

This interview was lightly edited for style and clarity.

How do you find investments that alight with your values?  

Our investments are not just something that funds our sisters and our missions. They also have power. We have criteria about what we can invest in. For example, we won’t invest in things like weapons companies. What we look for are companies that have a very clear environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria. We look at just about everything. For example, if a company is going to disclose their greenhouse gas emissions.

How does religion play a role in your investment strategy?  

I’ve lived in Jersey City and Newark, closer to the poor population. I’ve also had incredible experiences internationally living with people on the edge, who experience terrible political violence. I try to be grounded in those realities and help speak to those realities. Sometimes we go before very powerful people who, even in their own lifestyles, are excluded from those realities.  

How can people make their portfolios more socially responsible?

There’s a myth that needs to be squashed that you’re going to take a hit in your portfolio if it’s socially responsible. As it turns out, not only is that not true, but companies that understand their climate and social risk in their supply chain are better organized companies. It’s been proven by the Harvard Business School that socially responsible investments and ESG funds actually outperform their peers. 

It's not just the financial performance — you want to see environmental and social performance in companies. If you want to go down this route, don't do it on your own. There are great resources out there with information on investment opportunities that focus on socially responsible investing and ESG funds. 

What’s the worst financial advice you’ve ever heard?

I think the worst financial management advice is you're gonna take a hit if you are going to hold money in ESG funds. That’s just not going to happen.

What’s your top financial advice? 

You can really change the world, represent people who are suffering and be faithful to your own values without sacrificing financially. 

Image: Nastia Kobzarekno