A mutual fund in which the asset managers make investment decisions based upon some ethical code. An ethical fund is marketed to investors who may have moral objections to certain investment vehicles or companies. For example, an individual may have a moral objection to smoking and may therefore buy shares in a mutual fund that refrains from investing in tobacco companies. Ethical funds may have positive or negative guidelines; that is, a fund's ethics may inform where it makes investments (e.g. in environmentally friendly companies) and where it does not (e.g. in arms manufacturers). See also: Green fund, Islamic finance.
A mutual fund that limits investment alternatives to securities of firms meeting certain social standards. For example, an ethical fund might exclude securities of companies that are known to practice discrimination, that operate in certain countries, or that produce specific products (for example, those having to do with nuclear weapons or nuclear power plants). Ethical funds include the Dreyfus Third Century Fund, the New Alternatives Funds, and the Working Assets Fund, among others. See also social investing.