• Thu. Dec 1st, 2022

35 million people on Vanguard and Ascensus can now invest in the first climate-friendly fund made for 401(k)s

ByArlene Huff

Aug 2, 2022

Walnut, Calif. – Sphere announced today that it has partnered with nation-wide 401(k) record keeper platform Ascensus and brokerage platform Vanguard, to offer the Sphere 500 Fossil-Free Index Fund (ticker: SPFFX).

Over 80% of Americans see climate change as a threat, but climate-friendly funds hold less than 1% of 401(k) money. Sphere launched SPFFX to make it easy for every employer to offer climate-friendly investment options via their 401(k)s. The fund invests in the top 500 US companies by market capitalization, excluding the fossil fuel companies that are in that list.  

Beyond avoiding fossil fuel company investments, the Sphere fund votes the shares in the companies the fund does own in a planet-friendly way. Sphere uses the As You Vote proxy voting service from non-profit organization As You Sow, giving investors a voice by encouraging the companies it invests in to take climate action. 

Employers, also known as plan sponsors, have a fiduciary responsibility to ensure that investment options offered in plan lineups do not compromise on performance, even when aligning with the climate values of employees. The Sphere approach relies on research showing that excluding fossil fuel companies has improved returns across 1, 3, and 5 year time frames. Over a forty-year period, the investment performance of portfolios that exclude fossil fuel production companies does not significantly differ in terms of risk and return from those that include them. Sphere index’s 10-year back test validates the academic findings. This simple approach makes it possible for plan sponsors to add SPFFX to a plan with confidence that there is documented reasoning for doing so from a fiduciary perspective.

SPFFX is offered at an expense ratio of 0.07%, avoiding a 10-30x pricing premium that is often added to environmentally-focused funds. This pricing is intended to make it appropriate for 401(k) plans, where excessive fee lawsuits are common.

Ascensus is the fourth largest defined contribution plan record keeper in the country when measured by number of defined contribution plans, according to PlanSponsor Magazine.

“Adding SPFFX to Vanguard and Ascensus makes climate-friendly investing available to millions more investors across the country,” said Alex Wright-Gladstein, founder and CEO of Sphere. “We could not be more pleased to be working with these world-class investment platforms to make climate-friendly investing available and affordable for all.”

About Sphere

Sphere is a registered public benefit corporation that is on a mission to get climate-friendly investment options in every 401(k). The company sponsors climate-friendly financial products that are designed for 401(k) plans, allowing retirement plan fiduciaries to maintain their commitment to fiduciary duty without having to compromise on climate. Learn more at www.oursphere.org. For more information reach out to hello@oursphere.org

To learn more about investing in the Sphere 500 fund via Vanguard or Ascensus: www.oursphere.org/news/vanguard-ascensus 

Press Kit

Before investing in the Sphere 500 Fossil-Free Index Fund (“SPFFX”), consider the index’s investment objectives, risks, charges and expenses. To obtain a prospectus or summary prospectus which contains this and other information, please visit https://www.reflectionam.com/sphere, call 844-2-SPHERE, or talk to your financial advisor. Read the prospectus carefully before investing. The Sphere 500 Fossil Free Index tracks the S&P 500 and excludes the ~40 fossil fuel companies that are in the top 500 list. The Sphere 500 Fossil Free Index will not invest in companies whose main lines of business include producing, distributing, or refining fossil fuels, holding reserves of fossil fuels, utilities that are primarily fossil fuel-powered, and producers of equipment for any of the above. However, the fund may invest in companies that use fossil fuel as a part of their business or have used fossil fuels in the past. The performance data quoted represents past performance and is no guarantee of future results. Investment return and principal value of an investment will fluctuate so that an investor’s shares, when redeemed, may be worth more or less than their original cost. Index returns do not reflect the effects of fees or expenses. It is not possible to invest directly in an index. Current performance may be lower or higher than the performance data quoted. For the most recent month-end performance, please call 844-2-SPHERE or visit the Fund’s website at https://www.reflectionam.com/sphere. Index performance is discussed for illustrative purposes only as a benchmark for each strategy’s performance and does not predict or depict performance of that strategy. While index comparisons may be useful to provide a benchmark for a strategy’s performance, it must be noted that investments are not limited to the investments comprising the indices. Each of the strategy benchmark indices are unmanaged and cannot be purchased directly by investors. Past performance does not guarantee future results. No portion of the content should be considered a solicitation to buy or an offer to sell shares of the fund in any jurisdiction where the solicitation or offer would be deemed unlawful under the securities laws of such jurisdiction. The Sphere 500 Fossil-Free Index Fund is distributed by Vigilant Distributors, LLC, member of FINRA and SIPC. NOT FDIC INSURED NOT BANK GUARANTEED MAY LOSE VALUE

Media Contact

Company Name
Contact Name
Alex Wright-Gladstein
340 S Lemon Ave #3149
Postal Code
United States

Arlene Huff

Arlene Huff is the founding member of Golden State Online. Before that She was a general assignment reporter. A native Californian, she graduated from the University of California with a degree in medical anthropology and global health. She currently lives in Los Angeles.