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Investors Find Activism Can Be Profitable

BOSTON (TheStreet) -- The BP (BP) oil spill is helping to galvanize interest in so-called socially responsible investing.

Exchange traded funds are emerging as a rival to mutual funds that buy alternative-energy company shares. Two dozen socially responsible investing ETFs have attracted $3.2 billion in assets, according to Morningstar.

They include First Trust Global Wind Energy (FAN), PowerShares Global Wind Energy (PWND), PowerShares WilderHill Clean Energy (PBW), PowerShares Global Clean Energy Portfolio (PBD), Market Vectors Global Alternative Energy (GEX) and PowerShares Water Resources (PHO).

Rose Greene, a financial adviser based in Santa Monica, Calif., is bullish on the upside of investment opportunities emerging in clean energy. Greene, a go-to wealth manager for many in the entertainment industry and one of the nation's top financial advisers according to Barrons, has made a profitable living in socially responsible investing.

The call for clean energy and reducing dependence on foreign oil is nothing new. Greene, who founded Rose Greene Financial Services, recalls how President Jimmy Carter installed solar panels at the White House to make the point. Decades later, demand for greener energy is starting to intersect with improved technology, consumer acceptance and a falling price point.

Nevertheless, Greene warns that any investment opportunity, no matter how close to your heart a cause may be, needs to be carefully evaluated and scrutinized.

She sees "green" companies having the potential to be the next big "evil scheme," drawing comparisons to the dot-com bubble and burst of the 1990s. Her prediction calls for a flurry of IPOs during the next few years. Some will hopefully have what it takes to be the industry leaders of the future. Many others, she fears, will just be riding a temporary gravy train on their way to obscurity.

"There are going to be land mines all around," she says.

Greene attributes a large part of her success to being a rare progressive voice among her many conservative colleagues in the industry. Putting your money where your mouth is when it comes to social causes can be profitable, she says. Socially responsible investing is now a $3 trillion marketplace.

-- Reported by Joe Mont in Boston.

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