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Sphere Expands Reach of Fossil-Free Index Fund

Mutual Funds

Walnut, California-based Sphere has partnered with Ascensus and Vanguard to offer the Sphere 500 Fossil-Free Index Fund.

According to a press release, the fund (ticker: SPFFX), which launched last fall, invests in the top 500 U.S. companies by market capitalization, excluding the fossil fuel companies that are in that list. Beyond that, the Sphere fund votes the shares in the companies the fund does own in what it calls a “planet-friendly” way.  

More specifically, Sphere uses the As You Vote proxy voting service from As You Sow—a firm that was recently successful in persuading the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to allow shareholder resolutions at Amazon[i] and Comcast that would authorize the preparation of a report reviewing their retirement plan options “with the board’s assessment of how the Company’s current retirement plan options align with its climate action goals.”   

SPFFX is offered at an expense ratio of 0.07%, which the firm says allows it to avoid a 10-30x pricing premium that is often added to environmentally-focused funds. According to a press release, this pricing is “intended to make it appropriate for 401(k) plans, where excessive fee lawsuits are common.”

Sphere describes itself as a “registered public benefit corporation that is amplifying a social movement to get 401(k) money out of fossil fuel companies.”

[i] It garnered just 9.1% of the shareholder vote at Amazon, and was also rejected by shareholders at Comcast.