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What Morningstar’s Jon Hale Learned About Sustainable Investing Over 40 Years

It was the presidential campaigns of 1968 and his family’s new color TV that ignited the young Jon Hale’s interest in government and its possibilities. Later, Hale acquired a doctorate in political science and taught the subject at Virginia Tech and the University of Oklahoma. Hundreds of miles separated him and his wife, another political scientist, who was teaching in Chicago. During one visit, Hale scoured the Chicago want ads and landed at Morningstar as a fund analyst in 1995. At Morningstar, he grew interested in what was then called “socially responsible investing”—new investing options that could help investors express their values—that had the potential to help solve societal challenges.

Hale never looked back. He has been Morningstar’s lead commentator on sustainable investing and was instrumental in developing the Morningstar Sustainability Rating, or “globe rating,” for funds as well as its carbon risk score. Hale is now retiring from Morningstar, although he’ll continue to write regularly about sustainability and to work on special projects. As he stepped down, we asked him to reflect on his career and the landscape for sustainability. Keep reading the following edited excerpts for more. (You can also see a list of funds he owns in the nearby table.)

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