Why I just sold my biggest ASX stock holding

It's not always about money and the best returns. You need to be able to live with your investment decisions.

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I have a confession to make.

Earlier this week I sold off my entire stake in my biggest ASX stock holding.

All of it.

Of course, it helped that the stock price has done pretty well and I made some money out of it. You invest to make money.

However, the primary reason for my exit was entirely non-financial.

I'd like to take you through my thought process to demonstrate that it's perfectly legitimate to make investment decisions for factors other than monetary returns.

'Their place has been taken by a girl'

Last week, one of Sydney's oldest — read expensive and elite — private schools, Newington College, announced that it would admit girls for enrolment for the first time.

After a staggered transition, the school will become fully co-educational by 2033.

This has caused an uproar among some alumni, which includes Washington H Soul Pattinson and Company Ltd (ASX: SOL) chair Robert Millner.

"The gates at the entrance to the school are named after the Millner family and I am absolutely devastated by the decision," Millner told The Australian.

"They're limiting the number of future boys going to the school and that irks me."

He said that boys are placed on the Newington waiting list from when they were in utero, and he feared some of them will now "be told they can't come to the school because their place has been taken by a girl".

Not the best track record

While Millner said in the interview that "We all want girls to do well in the world", the Australian Financial Review pointed out how all eight boards that he sits on fall short of the modern standard of 40% representation by women.

At the family investment vehicle Soul Pattinson, the chief executive, chief financial officer, and chief investment officers are all male.

"In fact, none of the CEO positions at companies directed by Millner have female CEOs. Across all eight companies, there is just one chief financial officer and one chief operating officer," said AFR columnist Hannah Wootton.

"Millner may want girls to do well, but they do not do particularly well in the worlds he moves in."

You always have a choice which ASX stocks your money buys

These events prompted some serious thinking about my Soul Pattinson shares.

Gender equality is an issue that is personally and morally important to me. So it bothered me that Soul Pattinson, after stock price appreciation over the years, had become the largest holding in my portfolio.

Therefore I sold out.

The fact is, life is about more than just pure financial performance.

If you find yourself supporting something that runs against your conscience, in a free and democratic country you always have a choice to back out of it.

Also, there are many quality investment choices on the ASX, and indeed the world. Boycotting one ASX stock will not hurt your portfolio — there are plenty of other shares that will perform just as well.

At The Motley Fool we always encourage long-term investing. If you feel like your money is going towards a cause you're uncomfortable with, then don't let it do long-term damage against your values.

Motley Fool contributor Tony Yoo has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia's parent company Motley Fool Holdings Inc. has positions in and has recommended Washington H. Soul Pattinson and Company Limited. The Motley Fool Australia has positions in and has recommended Washington H. Soul Pattinson and Company Limited. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Scott Phillips.

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