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Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire


Whitman Investment Company buys PAX World Balanced Fund

Last week, a proposal by junior Keefe Piper to invest $24,000 in the PAX World Mutual Fund was passed by the Whitman Investment Company (WIC). A mutual fund is a company that invests money from its shareholders into a portfolio of stocks that it selects and maintains. Investors who opt to pool their money into a mutual fund are relieved of the burden of choosing individual stocks themselves.Whitman Investment Company buys PAX World Balanced Fund | Illustrations by Tyler Calkin

Although PAX may sound like an ordinary company, there was debate amongst WIC trustees about whether or not it’s an appropriate fund for the club to invest in. Unlike most funds, whose sole goal is to maximize returns, PAX is a pioneer in a global movement towards ethical investing. It launched the first socially responsible mutual fund in 1971, and its current portfolio includes only companies that adopt environmentally and socially conscious practices.

However, such philanthropy comes at a sacrifice: Socially responsible companies generally see less profit than their more cutthroat counterparts, which often get ahead by cutting costs at all costs. Piper believes that although ethical investors may come up short in terms of raw monetary gains, it is a practice that will ultimately bear more fruit in the long run.

“I think that as the industry develops, and as more intelligent and capable people get involved in it, that [profitability] gap is going to close,” said Piper. “In many ways, it’s going to be more profitable in the long run because socially responsible companies are sustainable in a lot of ways that other companies aren’t.

“Think about tobacco companies, war companies,” said Piper. “If the world is moving in a healthier direction, a more peaceful direction, those kinds of companies are not going to be as sustainable.

There’s an element of risk for companies that don’t have strong values in mind that isn’t there for socially responsible companies. Companies that are paying their workers fair wages, that have a concern for the environment … in the long run, those kinds of companies are going to end up on top.”
Some members of the WIC have argued that ethical investing goes contrary to the ideals of free market capitalism. Piper disagreed.

“One of the defining characteristics of a free market is that it’s a place where you’re free to express any kind of value through monetary transactions,” said Piper. “People do that every day when they decide to have fun with their friends rather than working, when they decide to buy one kind of good even though it’s more expensive because it’s better for the environment.”

Piper believes that the more people begin to recognize that they can express their values through investment decisions, the more the movement will grow. He explained that this holds especially true for college students, a demographic that makes up a large portion of activists, and urged them to look towards ethical investing as an additional way to further social welfare.

“I think it’s a very good exercise for Whitman students who have money in the bank to do a thorough investigation of companies, see which ones are aligned with their values and invest in it,” said Piper. “It’s a statement. It’s something that can grow, that can turn into something that has tangible consequences for the environment and for the community.”

Piper is not alone in the movement to promote ethical investing on campus. His proposal was described as being “very well received” by the WIC and many members of the club have rallied behind the cause.

The Whitman Investment Company is a student-run investment club charged with managing the William M. Allen––Boeing Endowment. The endowment was established by four alumni in the name of William Allen, a former Boeing CEO. Its purpose is to offer students an opportunity to invest in real world equities and gain hands-on financial experience. The endowment, originally a sum of $100,000, has more than tripled in value since its inception in 2001 to $350,000. Meetings are held every Tuesday from noon to 1 p.m. in Reid G02 and are open to all students.

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