March is B Corp Month. At Riverwater, we celebrate our B Corp status every day of every month. Riverwater Partners was founded in 2016 and, as soon as we became eligible in 2018, became a B Corp. We are proud to have been the first registered B Corp in Milwaukee, and the only investment advisor in Wisconsin to achieve this certification.
As Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) investors, attaining B Corp status was a natural extension of our values at Riverwater. ESG Investing means we evaluate not only the financial fundamentals of each company, but also ESG factors such as energy use, board diversity and product safety. We believe companies that focus on the interests of all stakeholders – customers, employees, communities, and shareholders – will produce better financial returns and a better world for all.
Becoming a B Corp was also an affirmation of our values: striving for excellence, embracing diversity of thought and generating measurable impact. It is a valuable network, providing us an opportunity to connect with like-minded companies similarly passionate about social and environmental performance, transparency and accountability.
How do B Corps really make a difference? The difference is twofold. By joining a global movement of leaders, B Corps work collectively to make the world a better place. Internally, by becoming a B Corp, companies are empowered with the knowledge of their own impact and given the tools to improve.
At Riverwater, we do the same with the companies we invest in. We encourage the companies we invest in to improve their environmental footprint, social impact and governance practices, all of which, studies have shown, have a positive impact on stock performance. Achieving B Corp status confirms that we adhere to the same standards we expect from the companies we invest in.
And it means our impact can be even greater. Often, we think about big industry and multinational corporations as the major offenders in ESG. Take their environmental impact, we focus on the fact that they consume raw materials, require large energy needs and have waste streams. But 70% of the US economy is service based, with small businesses making up 99.7% of US employer firms (US SBA), the vast majority of whom have fewer than 28 employees. Even though we are small and service based, in the aggregate, we can have a huge impact.
Take responsible investing, for example. In 2020, the US SIF reported that consideration of climate change and carbon factors increased 39% from 2018, representing $4.18 trillion in assets. Similarly, sustainable natural resources and agriculture grew by 81% to $2.4 trillion in assets under management. Yes, ESG investing generates real change.
That takes us back to B Corps. We are proud of our Midwestern roots and Milwaukee home. While one may think we would not want more ESG firms competing for client dollars, we believe more is better for the greater good. And that is what we are in this for. There are only 4 Investment Advisory firms in the Midwest registered as B Corps. More investment advisory firms and service businesses as B Corps only helps us advance our mission of making the world a better place by growing wealth through sustainable investing. Together we are stronger. Together we are better. Become a B Corp and B the Change!