NEW YORK – On Aug. 8, 1971, two ordained ministers, a lawyer and a businessman launched the first socially responsible mutual fund, the Pax World Fund, which is now the Pax World Balanced Fund. Pax World Funds celebrated its 30th anniversary on Aug. 9 by issuing a report on the past and future of socially responsible mutual funds entitled “Socially Responsible Mutual Funds in the U.S.: A Look Back and Ahead.” One of the main findings of the report was that based on the growth rate since the Pax World Fund introduction, socially responsible mutual fund assets could rise to over $278 billion in just 10 years. “The world of today’s socially responsible mutual funds started in 1971 when no one was sending email, Federal Express and Microsoft were yet to open their doors, a gallon of gasoline cost 36 cents and there were fewer than 200 mutual funds of any kind in existence,” said Thomas Grant, president of Pax World Funds. “From the vantage point of 30 years later, it is apparent that socially and environmentally responsible mutual funds not only are here to stay, but that they are likely to undergo considerable expansion in the coming years.” Pax commissioned Wiesenberger to analyze the growth of the socially responsible mutual fund industry over the last three decades. Wiesenberger, a division of Thomson Financial Services, has been tracking mutual fund data for over 55 years. Over the last 30 years, the assets of socially responsible mutual funds grew about five times faster than those of all other funds. In the report, Wiesenberger noted that social mutual fund assets rose from $150 million in 1971, to a record $103 billion in mid-2001. The growth is attributed to a more informed investor and a growing yearning for spiritual fulfillment that is infusing itself into different aspects of people’s lives, said Steve Schueth, president of First Affirmative Financial Network, a national network that serves socially conscious investors. “Women now make up over 60 percent of shareholders in socially screened funds and have gained significantly in terms of power and influence,” Schueth said. “That’s such an important segment not to ignore.” Anita Green, Pax World Funds’ director of social research, articulated perhaps the most important trend that will influence social investing in the near future. “Sustainability has become a major focus of companies in the U.S. and around the globe,” Green said. “With more and more industry leaders focusing on sustainable practices, SRI (socially responsible investment) funds would appear to have enormous potential for continued expansion in the coming decade.” -

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