Before 2006, if companies wanted a diverse socially responsible retirement plan, it did not exist. Most retirement plans offered only one or two options, if any. Then along came Springfield, MA-based Social(k), the nation’s most diverse socially responsible retirement plan offering more than 100 screened socially responsible funds to choose from! In its first year, thirty five companies and organizations either converted their existing plan to Social(k) or began offering it in conjunction with their plan. And interest is building – Social(k) President Robert Thomas estimates the number of companies and organizations signing up in 2007 will increase 150 percent or more.
Companies and organizations signing up with Social(k) included two of the nation’s top socially responsible investment fund families (Parnassus Investments in San Francisco, CA and Winslow Management Company in Boston, MA; the trade association representing the burgeoning U.S. organic industry (Organic Trade Association in Greenfield, MA); and the top-selling brand of bottled organic tea in the U.S. (Honest Tea in Bethesda, MD).
“Many companies particularly in the “sustainable” community were searching for a retirement plan that reflected their mission and they embraced Social (k) as it filled that need,” said Thomas. “Social(k) allows socially conscious retirement investors to profit while maintaining their principles.” And profit they can. Thomas noted that over the past 16 years, since the inception of the Domini 400 Social Index on May 1, 1990, its annualized returns of 12.09% have beaten the S&P 500’s annualized returns of 11.45%
Social(k) was also was well-received by the financial community in 2006 with close to 300 financial advisors registering with the Springfield, MA-based company so as to be able to offer its unique retirement program to their clients as an alternative to the limited options normally offered through today’s traditional sponsored programs.
In keeping with its own mission of social responsibility, Social(k) offers retirement record-keeping and administration services via the Internet by East Windsor, New Jersey-based provider ExpertPlan, thus dramatically reducing the use of paper. “Last year, Social(k) ranked as one of our most productive distribution partners,” noted Ross Brown, ExpertPlan senior vice president of sales and relationship management, continuing “We have no doubts that Social(k)’s strong sales momentum will continue in 2007.”
The Social(k) plan is ripe for growth. According to a 2002 Calvert/Harris Interactive® survey, less than one-third (32%) of employees have access to socially responsible funds as part of their retirement plans, while more than two-thirds (68%) of employees want the option invest in such funds. In addition, the survey showed that nearly three-quarters (74 percent) of employees who do not have SRI funds offered in their retirement plan would invest in them if they were offered.