Best Socially Responsible Investing Apps of November 2022: ESG Funds and More

Best Socially Responsible Investing Apps of November 2022: ESG Funds and More

With sustainable investing — whether through socially responsible investing (SRI) or environmental, social, and governance (ESG) investing — you can target companies whose values align with your own, and use certain criteria like ESG scores to determine how successful stocks or funds will be in the long haul.

Several investment platforms offer these options. You may be able to invest directly in SRI portfolios, trade ESG funds, or sift through sustainable stocks, depending on the platform. We’ve highlighted the best sustainable investing options below.


Fees

0% stocks, ETFs, and mutual funds; 3% or $14.95/trade for other mutual funds (whichever is lower); 2%, $1, or 1% for carbon offsets; 12-18% cryptocurrencies


Investment Types

Stocks, ETFs, cryptocurrencies, and mutual funds

IMPACT by Interactive Brokers IMPACT


Fees

0% stocks, ETFs, and mutual funds; 3% or $14.95/trade for other mutual funds (whichever is lower); 2%, $1, or 1% for carbon offsets; 12-18% cryptocurrencies


Investment Types

Stocks, ETFs, cryptocurrencies, and mutual funds

On IMPACT by Interactive Brokers’s website


Fees

0% stocks, ETFs, and mutual funds; 3% or $14.95/trade for other mutual funds (whichever is lower); 2%, $1, or 1% for carbon offsets; 12-18% cryptocurrencies

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Betterment Betterment Investing


Account Minimum

$0 to open, $10 to start investing ($100,000 for premium plan)


Fees

0.25%/year for digital plan; 0.40%/ year for premium plan; 1%/year for crypto portfolios


Investment Types

ETFs and cryptocurrencies

Betterment Betterment Investing


Account Minimum

$0 to open, $10 to start investing ($100,000 for premium plan)


Fees

0.25%/year for digital plan; 0.40%/ year for premium plan; 1%/year for crypto portfolios


Investment Types

ETFs and cryptocurrencies


Account Minimum

$0 to open, $10 to start investing ($100,000 for premium plan)


Fees

0.25%/year for digital plan; 0.40%/ year for premium plan; 1%/year for crypto portfolios

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Best for sustainable investors of all types: Sustainfolio

Sustainfolio Sustainfolio

Sustainfolio Sustainfolio

On Sustainfolio’s website

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Best for career planning and goal-driven investing: Ellevest

Ellevest Ellevest


Account Minimum

$1 – $240


Fees

$54 – $97 annually; $5 or $9/month

Ellevest Ellevest


Account Minimum

$1 – $240


Fees

$54 – $97 annually; $5 or $9/month


Account Minimum

$1 – $240


Fees

$54 – $97 annually; $5 or $9/month

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Best for self-directed traders: Charles Schwab

Charles Schwab Charles Schwab


Account Minimum

$0 ($5,000 for Schwab Intelligent Portfolios; $25,000 Schwab Intelligent Portfolios Premium)


Fees

0% ($0 Schwab Intelligent Portfolios; $30/month Schwab Intelligent Portfolios Premium)


Investment Types

Stocks, ETFs, options, futures, mutual funds, money market funds, bonds, crypto trusts, and annuities

Charles Schwab Charles Schwab


Account Minimum

$0 ($5,000 for Schwab Intelligent Portfolios; $25,000 Schwab Intelligent Portfolios Premium)


Fees

0% ($0 Schwab Intelligent Portfolios; $30/month Schwab Intelligent Portfolios Premium)


Investment Types

Stocks, ETFs, options, futures, mutual funds, money market funds, bonds, crypto trusts, and annuities

On Charles Schwab’s website


Account Minimum

$0 ($5,000 for Schwab Intelligent Portfolios; $25,000 Schwab Intelligent Portfolios Premium)


Fees

0% ($0 Schwab Intelligent Portfolios; $30/month Schwab Intelligent Portfolios Premium)

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Wealthfront Wealthfront Investing


Investment Types

ETFs, index funds, and crypto trusts

Wealthfront Wealthfront Investing


Investment Types

ETFs, index funds, and crypto trusts

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Best for DIY and hands-off investors: M1 Finance

M1 Finance M1 Finance


Account Minimum

$100 ($500 for IRAs)


Fees

0% (cryptocurrencies are commission-free, but Apex Crypto takes 1% fee on transactions); $125/year M1 Plus


Investment Types

Stocks, ETFs, and cryptocurrencies

M1 Finance M1 Finance


Account Minimum

$100 ($500 for IRAs)


Fees

0% (cryptocurrencies are commission-free, but Apex Crypto takes 1% fee on transactions); $125/year M1 Plus


Investment Types

Stocks, ETFs, and cryptocurrencies


Account Minimum

$100 ($500 for IRAs)


Fees

0% (cryptocurrencies are commission-free, but Apex Crypto takes 1% fee on transactions); $125/year M1 Plus

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Ally Ally Invest


Account Minimum

$0 ($100 for Robo Portfolios; $100,000 for Wealth Management)


Fees

0% (up to 0.85% for wealth management; bonds, mutual funds, and certain stocks have fees)


Investment Types

Stocks, ETFs, options, bonds, mutual funds, and forex

Ally Ally Invest


Account Minimum

$0 ($100 for Robo Portfolios; $100,000 for Wealth Management)


Fees

0% (up to 0.85% for wealth management; bonds, mutual funds, and certain stocks have fees)


Investment Types

Stocks, ETFs, options, bonds, mutual funds, and forex


Account Minimum

$0 ($100 for Robo Portfolios; $100,000 for Wealth Management)


Fees

0% (up to 0.85% for wealth management; bonds, mutual funds, and certain stocks have fees)

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Compare the best socially responsible investing apps

IMPACT by Interactive Brokers (jump to IMPACT details »)

Why it stands out: IMPACT is an Interactive Brokers-owned investment app that lets you choose from 13 different ESG categories (consumer safety, clean air, gender equality, ocean life, and more). Once you select the categories, IMPACT evaluates your portfolio to determine how well it aligns with the values you’ve selected.

Plus, if necessary, you can always use IMPACT to locate other companies that are a better fit for your sustainable investing goals. The platform even offers simulated trading for those who want to practice trading strategies without taking on any risk.

IMPACT currently offers commission-free stocks and ETFs, and most of its mutual funds also come without commissions. Crypto trading is also available through Paxos Trust Company.

What to look out for: Though IMPACT lets you analyze your portfolio based on ESG criteria, it doesn’t offer automated investing. If you’d like to take this route, you can do so through Interactive Brokers’ robo-advisor, Interactive Advisors, or another automated investing platform. Read our IMPACT by Interactive Brokers review to learn more.

Betterment (jump to Betterment details »)

Why it stands out: As an automated investing platform, Betterment handles the entire investment process for you. The robo-advisor offers two main accounts: the digital plan and the premium plan. You can set up its SRI portfolios through either account. It currently offers three socially responsible portfolios:

  • Climate Impact: These portfolios invest in ETFs with companies that have lower carbon emissions. Betterment also says it targets global green bonds that support projects dedicated to advancing pollution control, green building, climate adaptation, and energy efficiency.
  • Social Impact: This option best aligns with investors who want to support companies dedicated to gender and racial equity.
  • Broad Impact: The Broad Impact portfolios offer a more well-rounded approach to socially responsible investing. They target all ESG elements, so your money goes toward funds that support the environmental, social, and governance aspects. 

You can also work with a financial advisor if you want a bit more guidance, but you’ll have to pay extra to utilize these services if you have the digital plan. Financial advice is included in the premium plan. Read our Betterment review to learn more.

What to look out for: Betterment only offers ETFs, so you’ll need to consider other platforms if you’d like to invest in mutual funds or other assets. Plus, if you don’t have the premium plan but would like to consult a financial advisor, it’ll cost you $299 to $399 per session.

Sustainfolio (jump to Sustainfolio details »)

Why it stands out: Sustainfolio is an automated investing platform that primarily focuses on impact and ESG investing. It uses Charles Schwab’s automated account — Schwab Intelligent Portfolios — to power its platform, so it could be particularly useful for existing Schwab clients who want a more in-depth approach to socially responsible investing.

Sustainfolio also strictly uses ETFs (such as iShares, Nuveen, and Wisdomtree) in its portfolios, and it regularly screens user portfolios in accordance with ESG criteria. It currently offers four portfolios: the Core ESG portfolio, Environmental Impact portfolio, Social Impact portfolio, and Governance Impact portfolio.

In addition, its account types include individual, joint, trust, IRA, and IRA and 401(k)/403(b) rollovers.

What to look out for: Sustainfolio’s minimum requirement ($5,000) and 0.50% management fee are relatively high, compared to the other platforms listed in our roundup.

Ellevest (jump to Ellevest details »)

Why it stands out: Ellevest is a popular robo-advisor that offers personal investment accounts, IRAs, and financial planning, all factoring in women’s longer lifespans and pay gaps. Like many of the automated investing platforms in this guide, it provides both standard portfolios and socially responsible portfolios.

Its socially responsible option — the Ellevest Impact Portfolio — aims to achieve positive social impact through three key areas:

  • Women in leadership: These Impact portfolios target companies with more women in leadership and policies that advance women, according to Ellevest.
  • Community development: This option is great for investors who want to focus on funds that support things like community service and affordable housing.
  • Sustainable practices: These portfolios best suit those who want to invest in companies dedicated to sustainable and ethical practices.

When it comes to asset allocation in Ellevest’s Impact portfolio, the robo-advisor invests up to 53% of the portfolio in ESG and impact funds. And as for fees, fund expense ratios range from 0.13% to 0.19%. 

Read our Ellevest review to learn more.

What to look out for: You won’t be able to access joint or custodial accounts at Ellevest, and the robo-advisor doesn’t offer tax-loss harvesting.

Charles Schwab (jump to Charles Schwab »)

Why it stands out:

Charles Schwab offers just about everything — including self-directed brokerage accounts, automated investing accounts, custodial accounts, managed portfolios, and IRAs — for every type of investor. If you’re set on impact investing, you’ll have three key options:

  • ETFs: You can choose from more than 200 ESG mutual funds, including the Schwab Ariel ETF, a fund that invests in equities that meet ESG standards.
  • Mutual funds: Schwab also offers well over 200 mutual funds.
  • Separately managed accounts: If you’re looking for more guidance, you can also work with a financial advisor to build a portfolio that aligns with your socially responsible investing goals. 

An alternative route Schwab highlights is to invest in individual stocks that you feel align with your values.

Read our Charles Schwab review for more information.

What to look out for: You’ll have to pay more to utilize financial advisor guidance. Minimums for its separately managed accounts start at $100,000 for equities.

Wealthfront (jump to Wealthfront details »)

Why it stands out: Wealthfront is best for those who don’t want to make the day-to-day trading decisions in their account. Plus, as long as you meet its $500 minimum requirement and 0.25% advisory fee, you can take advantage of the robo-advisor’s SRI portfolios.

Like its standard Classic portfolios, Wealthfront’s SRI portfolios give you access to features like portfolio rebalancing, dividend reinvesting, and tax-loss harvesting. The platform also says it uses Blackrock funds that track socially responsible indices defined by MSCI. 

When it comes to fund fees, expense ratios can range from 0.05% to 0.29%. Read our Wealthfront review to learn more.

What to look out for: You won’t be able to take advantage of advisor-managed automated accounts.

M1 Finance (jump to M1 Finance details »)

Why it stands out: When it comes to investing, M1 Finance offers the best of both worlds. You can either invest on your own, or utilize one of its professionally-built portfolios. The same goes for its socially responsible offerings.

You can build your own blend or collection of sustainable stocks or ETFs using M1 Finance’s “pie” feature, or you can invest in pre-made socially responsible investments. One option is to use its Community Pies. These portfolios target companies led by black, female, AAPI, LGBTQ+, and Latine executives. 

The community pies selection also lets you invest in companies committed to sustainability through the Sustainability Community Pie (see more here). And you’ll additionally have access to domestic and international pre-made pies.

Read our M1 Finance review for more details.

What to look out for: M1 Finance primarily offers stocks and ETFs, and it doesn’t offer human advisor support.

Ally Invest (jump to Ally Invest details »)

Why it stands out: Ally Invest offers both self-directed and automated sustainable investing for its users. If you want to take the DIY route, you’ll be able to take advantage of ESG ETFs, Impact funds, and thematic funds. Ally currently offers more than 80 sustainable ETFs, so you’ll have several options to choose from when building your portfolio.

On the automated investing end, you can invest in an SRI portfolio that Ally manages for you. You’ll only need $100 to get started, and you won’t have to pay any advisory fees. Ally says it invests your money into companies that conduct business in a socially and environmentally conscious way.

Read our Ally Invest review.

What to look out for: Ally Invest offers thousands of mutual funds, but none of them are no-transaction-fee funds.

Other sustainable investment platforms we considered

  • Fidelity: Fidelity supports all types of investors. When it comes to ESG and socially conscious investing, it offers multiple options. These include thematic sustainable mutual funds and ETFs, as well as sustainable stocks. But it may not be the best choice for hands-off investors in search of a wide range of SRI portfolio options.
  • Earthfolio: Earthfolio is an automated platform that solely promotes sustainable investing. It offers personal asset allocation and ongoing portfolio monitoring f0r each client, and it uses a vast range of ESG funds. The only downside is that you’ll be responsible for a $25,000 account minimum and 0.50% annual fee.
  • E*TRADE Core Portfolios: With E*TRADE’s automated account, you can tailor your portfolio so that it follows a socially responsible investing strategy. E*TRADE will then invest in companies that consider socially responsible criteria. One drawback is that the platform doesn’t offer tax-loss harvesting.
  • Axos Invest: Axos Invest’s managed portfolios are quite versatile, allowing investors to invest toward multiple goals and targets, while offering access to socially responsible investments. One thing to consider is that the platform doesn’t offer joint or custodial accounts.

How we determined the winners

We reviewed more than a dozen sustainable investing platforms to find the best options for ease-of-use, low fees, and flexible investment choices. Our list contains a mix of self-directed platforms and robo-advisors, so both DIY investors and hands-off individuals are considered in our picks.

Frequently asked questions

Why trust us?

Our mission at Personal Finance Insider is to help smart people make wise decisions with their money. The word “best” is often subjective, so we make sure to highlight both the pros and cons of each socially responsible investment platform listed in our guide.

We spent hours comparing and contrasting the fees, features, and investment offerings of each platform so you don’t have to.

Those who practice SRI invest in companies dedicated to making positive social and ethical change. There are multiple ways to target such investments. You can either invest in individual stocks of companies committed to the social cause you support, or you can invest in socially responsible/ESG ETFs or mutual funds.

According to S&P Global, investors who practice ESG investing examine the ways in which environmental, social, and governance factors can affect the performance of companies they’re either investing in or considering for investment. So this investment approach strictly uses ESG criteria as a way to evaluate how sustainable companies/investments are.

With socially responsible investing, however, investors focus more on the impact associated with the companies and whether those companies’ practices align with their values. In other words, a company’s ethics become equally (if not more) important as generating hefty returns.

This depends on your investing goals. SRI portfolios are ideal options for those who want to make a positive difference with their investments. Investment apps like IMPACT, for instance, even give users the choice to filter out companies with business practices that may align with your values (e.g., animal testing, high water use, and more).

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