TD Ameritrade Expands Impact Investing Access

May 16, 2018 — 12:10 PM EDT

TD Ameritrade is expanding access to impact investing via TD Ameritrade Institutional, making more environmental, social and governance-focused investment products available to its independent registered investment advisors (RIAs).

In a press release, TD Ameritrade Holding Corporation (AMTD) said that RIAs now have three ways to access, screen and invest in environmental, social and governance (ESG) investments for their clients through TD Ameritrade's Model Market Center, Veo and ETF Market Center. Via the Model Market Center platform, RIAs will be able to access investment models that meet the criteria to be considered an ESG investment. The models are currently available to advisors at no additional fee and without an investment minimum. Advisors on the Veo brokerage platform can now apply a screening tool to pinpoint 559 mutual funds that have been identified as being socially responsible and are open to new investors. The Omaha, Nebraska-based discount brokerage said that 234 of those funds can be traded commission free. Furthermore, advisors who use the TD Ameritrade ETF Market Center can access screening tools to find and invest in 63 ETFs that call themselves socially responsible, eight of which are commission free.

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Citing data from the U.S. SIF Foundation, TD Ameritrade said that total assets invested in socially responsible products in the U.S. increased by one-third to $8.72 trillion between 2014 and 2016. That accounts for about one-fifth of the $40.3 trillion in assets under management in the U.S. Based on a recent TD Ameritrade Institutional client survey, one in three RIAs signaled that they have seen an increase in interest on the part of clients for impact investing during the past year.

"Socially responsible investing is increasingly important to some investors, so we want to equip advisors with tools that can help clients express their values through their portfolios," said Dani Fava, director of product strategy and development at TD Ameritrade Institutional, in the press release announcing the expanded access. "Building socially responsible strategies can be challenging, requiring time and expertise, so we're working to make it easier for advisors to provide them."

TD Ameritrade isn't the only online brokerage that is expanding its impact investing offering. With demand growing for investments that positively affect the environment and society, Merrill Lynch and its Merrill Edge unit announced the launch of five new portfolios that incorporate ESG factors in the mix. In a press release earlier this month, Merrill said that the new investment portfolios were designed by the Global Wealth and Investment Management (GWIM) chief investment officer and incorporate the CIO's investment process, portfolio construction views, portfolio management and oversight routines. The products comprise mainly exchange-traded funds, require a minimum investment of $5,000 and are constructed to provide a range of investment choices, from conservative to aggressive.