Dealflow | March 4, 2019

John Hancock rolls out COIN, a “conscious” investment account for everyday investors

Jessica Pothering
ImpactAlpha Editor

Jessica Pothering

ImpactAlpha, March 4 – Financial services firm John Hancock is backing a stock investing platform for “conscious” everyday investors. The platform, called COIN, allows individuals to build an investment account comprised of public equities screened for alignment to the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals.

COIN, short for “Conscious Investor,” uses algorithmic investing—or, robo-investing—to help individuals with as little as $50 invest to build a portfolio around impact themes, including: gender equality, climate action, better health, clean water, waste reduction, quality work, modern cities and shared prosperity. The platform uses both negative and positive screening, eliminating weapons or tobacco companies, for example, and selecting companies that have made commitments to gender pay equality or financial inclusion.

COIN was conceived in 2016 as part of a hackathon held by John Hancock. Founder Megan Schleck got the idea based on her own experience trying to build an investment portfolio aligned to her values. She set out to create a mainstream investment product that gives everyday investors more information and greater say in the companies they invest in.

Schleck recognizes that depth of impact is challenging through public equities. “True impact is hard to do in a product that’s accessible for everyone,” Schleck told ImpactAlpha. “What we’re trying to elevate for people is choice. It might not be a perfect choice. But we’re trying to give all people access to make their opinions known as best they can.”

Retail market

COIN’s launch of an impact-focused stock account is part of an expanding retail impact-investing market. Women-focused investment platform Ellevest offers a similar product, designed to help women invest in other women. Meanwhile, companies like Swell and OpenInvest focus on impact retirement accounts, while CNote offers a high-yield savings account that supports sending to underserved entrepreneurs and communities.

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COIN’s account comes with a 0.75% management fee. Investors can withdraw from their accounts at any time, however the platform encourages investors to commit funds for five years or more. The product is currently only available in the U.S.