Financial Planning
June 11, 2024

What Is Values-Based Financial Planning?

Stewart Willis

Financial planning is not just about numbers and budgets—it’s about what matters most to you. This is where values-based financial planning comes into play. It involves making financial decisions that are not only smart but also align closely with your personal values. These values can focus on your family, freedom, security, or giving back to your community.

Understanding what values-based financial planning means can transform how you think about your money and future. It ensures that your financial goals support the life you want to live and the legacy you hope to leave behind. This blog will explain values-based financial planning, how it can change your approach to managing money, and why it might be the most beneficial way to handle your unique financial life.

What is Values-driven Financial Planning?

Values-based financial planning is the way to go if you want to take control of your money and align it with your personal priorities. In this process, financial planning begins by examining one’s values. It’s a bold departure from conventional financial planning, focusing solely on numbers and figures. This approach puts you, the individual, at the forefront by first identifying what truly matters to you.

It’s an approach that centers around making a positive impact through charitable giving and supporting causes dear to you. In this form of financial planning, your core values are the driving force.

What Is the Value of Financial Planning?

Traditional financial planning concentrates on accumulating wealth and managing assets efficiently. This approach is still viable as it allows you to focus on financial stability and maintaining a comfortable life. On the other hand, values-based financial planning goes further by aligning your strategies with your life’s values and missions.

This approach makes financial planning based on core values more than just numbers on a page. You’re not just saving randomly but working towards goals that matter to you. This can make it easier to stick to your financial plan, as it feels more relevant and connected to your life. Values-based financial planning aligns your money with your personal values, ensuring it supports what fulfills and makes you happy.

ESG and Criteria for Your Financial Planning Values

ESG, which stands for Environmental, Social, and Governance, is a framework for evaluating a company’s sustainability and ethical impact. These three categories help assess how a company manages risks and opportunities related to ethical, sustainable, and corporate governance issues.


This factor considers how a company or organization performs as a steward of nature. Metrics for these factors include carbon footprint, energy efficiency, waste recycling rates, and water usage. It includes :

  • energy consumption and sources (renewable vs. non-renewable)
  • waste management and recycling practices
  • emissions and pollutants, including carbon emissions
  • efficient use of water and other natural resources
  • climate impact and mitigation efforts


This aspect focuses on the company’s relationships with employees, suppliers, customers, and communities. Investors would look for data that shows diversity indices, employee turnover rates, supply chain audit reports, and community investment initiatives. You’d mostly look to see:

  • policies based on diversity, worker safety, job satisfaction, and fair pay.
  • no human rights abuses in the company and its supply chain.
  • how the company engages with local communities
  • how the company handles product safety for customers.
  • protective measures for customer data.


Governance involves a company's internal system of practices, controls, and procedures to make effective decisions, comply with laws, and meet stakeholder needs. Value-based investors would look to analyses of board diversity, compensation ratios, and the presence of anti-corruption policies. This includes:

  • diversity and structure of the board and management teams
  • financial auditing processes and levels of transparency
  • executive pay should be fair based on performance and industry standards
  • how well the company respects shareholders' and stakeholders’ rights
  • the company's efforts to prevent corruption and maintain ethical business practices

Investment business concept based on values

Socially Responsible Investing and Values-Based Financial Planning

Since value-based financial planning focuses on social and ethical concerns, socially responsible investing (SRI) could be a strategy you consider. SRI is a deliberate and impactful investment approach that prioritizes positive social impacts. By directing capital toward companies and funds that demonstrate a commitment to social responsibility, SRI investors actively contribute to creating a more equitable and environmentally conscious global economy.

The core premise of SRI is that investment dollars should be leveraged to drive meaningful change. SRI often uses negative screening to exclude companies or industries that conflict with specific ethical standards. SRI has its roots in the teachings of John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist movement, who encouraged his followers to avoid investments in "sin stocks" that profited from industries such as:

  • alcohol
  • tobacco
  • weapons
  • gambling

This ethos has carried through to modern-day SRI practices, where standard exclusions often include companies that use fossil fuels. Importantly, SRI represents the simplest and frequently the most cost-effective approach to values-based investing.

Impact Investing and Your Financial Planning Values

SRI, value-based, and impact investing overlap, but impact investing has a more targeted approach. Impact investing strategies aim to generate specific social or environmental benefits and financial returns and often expects measurable outcomes. Impact investors actively seek opportunities that provide solutions to global or community challenges.

Impact investing based on your financial planning values requires the outcomes to be measurable. Investors would often look for quantifiable data on the social or environmental impact, such as:

  • the number of jobs created in low-income areas
  • the amount of CO2 emissions reduced
  • the number of people provided with clean water

Impact investments aim for returns ranging from below market rates to market-competitive, depending on the investors’ objectives and the investment’s nature. Impact investing can be applied across a variety of asset classes including, but not limited to:

  • private equity
  • debt
  • fixed income securities

It can involve investing in non-profits, social enterprises, or private businesses with a clear mission to address social or environmental issues. This opens opportunities for investments in:

  • renewable energy
  • sustainable agriculture
  • healthcare
  • education
  • microfinance
  • social services

Impact investing isn’t location-restrictive. To align with your financial planning values, it can support local, regional, and global causes. Investors can focus on international projects to improve conditions in developing countries or invest in local community projects.

Contribute to the Change You Want

Making an impact with your money shouldn’t be difficult. You should be able to contribute to the world you live in meaningfully. Work with the financial advisors at Asset Preservation Wealth and Tax to develop a custom solution that benefits you and the causes you care about.

Talk to a trusted financial planner today!

Stewart Willis is the founder and president of Asset Preservation Wealth & Tax, a financial planning firm in Phoenix, Arizona. Investment advisory services offered through Foundations Investment Advisors, LLC, an SEC registered investment adviser.

The commentary on this blog reflects the personal opinions, viewpoints and analyses of the author, Stewart Willis, providing such comments, and should not be regarded as a description of advisory services provided by Foundations Investment Advisors, LLC (“Foundations”), an SEC registered investment adviser or performance returns of any Foundations client. The views reflected in the commentary are subject to change at any time without notice. Nothing on this website constitutes investment, legal or tax advice, performance data or any recommendation that any particular security, portfolio of securities, transaction or investment strategy is suitable for any specific person. Personal investment advice can only be rendered after the engagement of Foundations for services, execution of required documentation, including receipt of required disclosures. Any mention of a particular security and related performance data is not a recommendation to buy or sell that security. Foundations manages its clients’ accounts using a variety of investment techniques and strategies, which are not necessarily discussed in the commentary. Any statistical data or information obtained from or prepared by third party sources that Foundations deems reliable but in no way does Foundations guarantee the accuracy or completeness. Investments in securities involve the risk of loss. Any past performance is no guarantee of future results. Advisory services are only offered to clients or prospective clients where Foundations and its advisors are properly licensed or exempted. For more information, please go to and search by our firm name or by our CRD # 175083.

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