Impact with Purpose

How you invest your money makes a difference. This documentary was created to inspire investors to consider impact investing – investments that generate a measurable positive impact alongside a traditional financial return. The latest cut of this film features a variety of experts, including:

• Peter Turkson, Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church

• Jon Hale, global head of sustainability research at Morningstar, Inc.

• Hazel Henderson, futurist, economist and author – one of the founders of the movement to responsible investing.

• Judith Karl, executive secretary of the U.N. Capital Development Fund

• Jonas Kron, senior vice president and director of shareholder advocacy at Trillium Asset Management

• John Streur, president and CEO of Calvert Research and Management

“Impact” also follows the entrepreneurial journeys of David Katz, founder and CEO of The Plastic Bank, and George Taylor, CEO of TRU Colors Brewing Company.

David and George embody the artistry that takes place when entrepreneurism aligns with purpose.

You can learn more about this project at http://impactu.film/, join the ImpactU community at https://impactu.me/, and get more resources about the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals through the ImpactU Foundation at https://impactu.foundation/ 

If it is to be, it’s up to us.

The Federal Reserve bank of San Francisco recently published an extraordinary research paper acknowledging the impact of climate change. I encourage you to read the entire thing, but I’ve extracted a few points here for discussion.

Take this statement from the preamble to the paper:

“In coming decades, climate change—and efforts to limit that change and adapt to it—will have increasingly important effects on the U.S. economy. These effects and their associated risks are relevant considerations for the Federal Reserve in fulfilling its mandate for macroeconomic and financial stability.”

If you’ve been following the news around climate change, this will not come as a surprise. The facts of the matter are not in dispute. We have already seen record numbers of insurance claims due to climate instability, and we expect this trend to continue.

The more troubling aspect of the report is this:

“On top of these direct effects, climate adaptation—with spending on equipment such as air conditioners and resilient infrastructure including seawalls and fortified transportation systems—is expected to increasingly divert resources from productive capital accumulation”

This is why we use Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) analysis in our investment portfolios. We hope that by looking at the ways companies make decisions, and by avoiding investing in companies that score poorly on these metrics, we can build more resilient portfolios.

If it is to be, it’s up to me.

We must take climate action into our own hands, as policymakers’ hands are tied. The Fed is the most independent branch of the government when it comes to monetary policy, and now we know that they will not act because they can not. This leaves it up to us.

The fed closes the report by admitting that they are powerless to act:

“While the effects and risks of climate change are relevant factors for the Fed to consider, the Fed is not in a position to use monetary policy actively to foster a transition to a low-carbon economy. Supporting environmental sustainability and limiting climate change are not directly included in the Fed’s statutory mandate of price stability and full employment”

It is up to us as investors to understand the risks that climate change poses to our financial goals and the portfolios we build to meet them. How exposed are you to these risks? We’d love to help you find out.

It’s B Corp Month #VoteEveryDay

In celebration of B Corp Month, we want to explain why we became a Certified B Corp and what the certification means to us.

We began our journey to certification in 2014, when we were looking for a way to show that we’re serious about sustainability. As financial advisors, we don’t produce a product that could be certified sustainable or organic, so we needed an independent third party to certify us, preferably one that’s a non-profit with open standards and communication about emerging issues.

This search led us to the B Lab, an organization committed to bringing together businesses that have a social mission at their core; firms that, like us, are committed to the highest highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose.

Vote with your dollars

We often think about our spending as speech. We view investing as casting a vote, which is the reason we use Environmental, Social and Governance factors when selecting investments. We also believe in the power of using these votes in a more concrete sense, through the power of shareholder activism. By choosing to buy B Corp products and work with B Corps, you too can cast your vote for a more sustainable future.

What it means to us

Being a B Corp is about more than just saying we’re sustainable. The B Impact Assessment not only gave us a score, but showed us a road map with suggestions to improve our firm. In 2014, when we first applied for certification, we scored a 99.6 out of a possible 200 points. In 2016, when we re-certified for the first time (and were randomly selected for increased verification), we increased our score to 109.7. This year we hope to do even better.

Working with the B Corp community, we’ve changed our energy consumption to clean energy and installed LED lighting in our office, which dramatically lowered our energy use. The assessment caused us to look for ways to improve our score, so we focused on the areas where we scored 0 points. This led us to seek out opportunities, and we eventually partnered with the NJ Department of Labor to increase the number of Certified Financial Planners in the state. The goal is to increase access to financial services for under-served communities by lowering the barriers to entry. We even won an award for this work!

© Photoray 2018

What can you do?

Be a conscious consumer! Look for the Certified B Corp logo on packaging, especially for brands that you think of as sustainable. Check out the B Impact Report of companies that are certified and let them know that you appreciate the work they put into the certification and how they can be better. And encourage your employer to take the certification. It’s free!