The Economic Case for Fossil Fuel Free Investing

We really loved Betsy Moszeter’s article, “The Economic Case for Fossil Fuel Free Investing,” published in the November/December ’17 issue of Investments & Wealth Monitor. Moszeter is Partner & COO at Green Alpha Advisors, a responsible investment management firm in Boulder, Co. She is also good friend and colleague of us here at Earth Equity Advisors. Read the excerpt below and click through for the full content. 


The Economic Case for Fossil Fuel Free Investing

Investment industry practitioners and academics increasingly are talking about the financial and economic reasons why an investment advisor should offer clients investment strategies that are void of fossil fuel extractors, utilities, pipelines, and service providers. As advisors evaluate the economic and financial risk presented by fossil fuels, it’s also necessary to consider the resulting investment opportunities presented by companies innovating around the growing renewables industry. Even former U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Commissioner Bevis Longstreth is working hard to educate investors and investment professionals about why it’s entirely within one’s fiduciary duty to rethink the current and near­future investing paradigm of the sector.

In his article, “The Financial Case for Divestment of Fossil Fuel Companies by Endowment Fiduciaries,”1 Longstreth writes, “At some point down the road towards the red light of 2 Degrees Centigrade … it is entirely plausible, even predictable, that continuing to hold equities in fossil fuel companies will be ruled negligence.” Who knows more about potential negligence and what falls within one’s duciary duty than a former SEC commissioner? Let’s explore a few of the factors leading him and many others to recommend that invest­ ment portfolios be divested from fossil fuel companies.

Continue Reading…


EARTH EQUITY ADVISORS IS A REGISTERED INVESTMENT ADVISER. INFORMATION PRESENTED IS FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY AND DOES NOT INTEND TO MAKE AN OFFER OR SOLICITATION FOR THE SALE OR PURCHASE OF ANY SPECIFIC SECURITIES, INVESTMENTS, OR INVESTMENT STRATEGIES. INVESTMENTS INVOLVE RISK AND UNLESS OTHERWISE STATED, ARE NOT GUARANTEED. BE SURE TO FIRST CONSULT WITH A QUALIFIED FINANCIAL ADVISER AND/OR TAX PROFESSIONAL BEFORE IMPLEMENTING ANY STRATEGY DISCUSSED HEREIN.

There Are More Benefits To Gratitude Than You Think

As we approach Thanksgiving, it’s a great opportunity to ponder whether you live in a state of abundance or scarcity (regardless of your circumstances).  While your fundamental attitude and personality type influence your views, there is an opportunity to shift your mindset with intentional focus.

Here are seven benefits of gratitude (source):

  1. Gratitude opens the door to relationships. Showing appreciation helps make  and maintain friendships.
  2. Gratitude improves physical health. Grateful people experience fewer aches and pains.
  3. Gratitude improves psychological health by reducing toxic emotions and negativity.
  4. Gratitude enhances empathy and reduces aggression. You will be less likely to retaliate against others, even when faced with negative feedback.
  5. Grateful people sleep better.
  6. Gratitude improves self-esteem by reducing social comparisons. Being happy for others’ accomplishments reduces envy and keeps people from feeling inadequate in comparison.
  7.  Gratitude increases mental strength. An attitude of abundance is helpful in overcoming trauma and a major contributor to resilience.

Feeling grateful for what is, or what could be, can help you reshape what you already have with positive effects. 

 

Feeling grateful for what is, or what could be, can help you reshape what you already have with positive effects.

The Abundance vs Scarcity mindset (source)

By focusing on scarcity and on things that you lack, you can often (ironically) invite more of those things into your life. By thinking about your bills, debts, hardships and frustrating relationships, your energy is drained and you can be trapped in a loop that finds and focuses on examples of them (self-fulfilling prophecies).

Abundance on the other hand, is a different kind of mindset and it leads us to a different path in life. It focuses on the things that we have and are thankful for, and on the great experiences that we come across in our journey.  It also includes a proactive stance to encourage putting energy into the right directions for you.

It is much easier to focus on gratitude when you look around at a world that is already filled with good things. However, in order to get to a life of gratitude in the first place, you have to start thinking about it, and adjust the lens of how you perceive your situation. In other words the mindset comes first!  When our children were younger, part of the bedtime routine was for each child to tell me three things they were thankful for that day (the family dog got lots of shout-outs!).  We heard some amazing, heart -warming (and often silly) things on the gratitude recitals, however it really was a great way to end a day.  It is still a family tradition to talk openly about gratitude.

Here is another source:

“The scarcity mindset revolves around the idea that there simply isn’t enough to go around, always focusing on the extreme short term of every decision. Typically, the abundance mentality focuses on the long-term and involves a deep understand that just because you don’t get to have something right now does not mean you won’t be able to have it later.

Obviously, personal finance is much easier if you have an abundance mindset. You don’t feel the need to spend money as soon as you get it because you know there will always be more of it.”

Here are eight tactics to switch to an abundance mindset:

Have appreciative conversations.

Focus on things you do have rather than things you don’t. Focus on the big things you and your loved ones are working toward. Talk about achievements.

Organize your home and life.

You’ll be able to see how much you do have and how much time is available to put to good use.

Reduce media consumption.

Media cultivates desire for things you don’t have, a key element of scarcity. Advertisements are bad enough, but sometimes it’s the programs or articles themselves that contribute to the mentality. Use the time instead to do something for yourself, something outside or with your hands. Ground yourself in your life instead of wishing for a life that seems out of reach.

Share with others.

Sharing feels good, and you’ve improved someone else’s life, however marginally. Plus, you don’t often miss what you’ve shared. When you share regularly, people are more likely to share in return, fulfilling your life in ways you might not have attempted before. It’s also not just about money or stuff, but sharing time and attention and knowledge and friendships.

Try to create win-win situations.

Scarcity believes that for every one winner, there are one or more losers. Not everyone wins because there isn’t enough to go around. Combat this by creating situations where everybody gains. Host potluck dinners, swap tasks with people who don’t have your skillset who can do something you can’t, so you both come out better.

Look for positives even in the losses.

Sometimes bad things happen. More often than not, there are positives hidden in the negatives. Lose your job? Maybe you’ll find something closer and a better match for your life chapter. A close friend moves away? Maybe you’ll have the chance to travel somewhere new to see them, and when they’re gone, your time with another friend may grow. Keep in mind that at least some good can come out of most situations, and even with really bad circumstances, there’s growth to be had.

Stop comparing yourself to others.

When someone gets something you don’t have, that doesn’t mean you’ll never have it, or something else equally good. Be happy for them and tell yourself your turn is coming. Social media is particularly bad for comparisons, because people post about the highlights of their life, so everything looks rosier than reality. If you’re comparing the entirety of your life, good, bad and ugly, to someone else’s highlights, of course it’s going to be difficult to keep up. This is where cutting back on media helps.

Keep a gratitude journal.

Spending time every day noting the good things in your life helps keep a positive perspective. So even if something bad happens, you can see that it didn’t happen to everything in your life. Every day, big or small, there are moments of joy to be savored. Keeping a journal helps you seek those moments out and remember them for later to write down, and in the remembering, you’re giving them more importance than the negativity weighing you down.

Sending gratitude and an abundant mindset to each of you as you launch into the holidays.


EARTH EQUITY ADVISORS IS A REGISTERED INVESTMENT ADVISER. INFORMATION PRESENTED IS FOR EDUCATONAL PURPOSES ONLY AND DOES NOT INTEND TO MAKE AN OFFER OR SOLICITATION FOR THE SALE OR PURCHASE OF ANY SPECIFIC SECURITIES, INVESTMENTS, OR INVESTMENT STRATEGIES. INVESTMENTS INVOLVE RISK AND UNLESS OTHERWISE STATED, ARE NOT GUARANTEED. BE SURE TO FIRST CONSULT WITH A QUALIFIED FINANCIAL ADVISER AND/OR TAX PROFESSIONAL BEFORE IMPLEMENTING ANY STRATEGY DISCUSSED HEREIN.

The Power of Choice

We warmly welcome John Lanier, Executive Director of the Ray C. Anderson Foundation, as he discusses in this guest editorial the power of choice, consideration for the choices we make, and how our decisions affect those around us. 

— Pete Krull


Recently, I’ve been thinking about choice.

We have more choices than we realize. First, there are the obvious ones we are capable of making:

  • What should I wear for the day?
  • What strikes my fancy on the menu this evening?
  • Do I swipe left or right?

Those are all the “what” choices of our lives. They are conscious decisions that have observable results and consequences. However, what we decide to do is not the only thing that matters. The “how” is equally important, if not more so.

How do you comfort someone who has just lost a loved one? How patient are you with your children when they ask the same question for the fortieth time? How sincere are you when you congratulate the person who received the promotion you wanted?

Frequently, these choices don’t feel like we have control over them. Too often, we simply call them “emotional reactions” and take them as a given. I think we sell ourselves short when we dismiss these choices so easily. We can choose to be kind, generous, brave, resilient and moral. Those decisions are hard or easy depending on our circumstances and our personality, but they are still our choices.

Every day, I make a choice about how to do my job, a job that I love dearly and for which I am so grateful. I am the executive director of the Ray C. Anderson Foundation, a private family foundation that is committed to advancing the legacy of our namesake. Ray was the founder of Interface, Inc., the world’s largest carpet tile manufacturer, and he was committed to making his business as environmentally sustainable as possible until his passing in 2011.  He was my grandfather, and I hope to honor him by supporting environmental initiatives with grants from the estate he left to this Foundation.

Simply put, I have the responsibility to give large sums of money to certain organizations, as well as the responsibility to decline grant requests from other organizations that don’t align with our priorities.

I’m very aware that a lot is at stake. Our grants fund important work and employ passionate, committed individuals. The grants we don’t make might very well mean that other important work can’t be pursued by equally passionate, committed individuals.

Who am I to be worthy of making those decisions? I didn’t earn the dollars that we give away. They came from my grandfather’s hard work and dedication. How could I possibly earn the right to be a philanthropist in this way?

The short answer is that I can’t earn it. Rather, this work of carrying on my grandfather’s legacy is a gift, and how I receive that gift is reflected in how I do my job and the choices I make.

I strive to be humble. I never stop learning about the environmental challenges and opportunities that our societies face. I embrace a spirit of gratitude, because our Foundation doesn’t do the work of enriching our natural systems. Rather, our partners do that work, and they do it so very well.

I am not entitled to do this work. This work has been entrusted to me. I accept it willingly, but with the understanding that I have an immense responsibility to be a good steward of that which is not mine. I hope that how I do this work makes my family and my grandfather proud.


John Anderson Lanier is the Executive Director of The Ray C. Anderson Foundation.

Lanier’s passion for environmental stewardship was sparked by Ray’s example and story, and he never tires of sharing this story with others. Lanier currently serves as Vice Chair of the Board of Directors for Southface, the southeast’s nonprofit leader in the promotion of sustainable homes, workplaces and communities through education, research, advocacy and technical assistance. He also serves on the Board of Directors for Project Drawdown and Chattahoochee NOW. Finally, he serves on the Committee for Service and Spirituality for the Marist School Alumni Association in Atlanta. Learn more about the Ray C. Anderson Foundation here.


EARTH EQUITY ADVISORS IS A REGISTERED INVESTMENT ADVISER. INFORMATION PRESENTED IS FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY AND DOES NOT INTEND TO MAKE AN OFFER OR SOLICITATION FOR THE SALE OR PURCHASE OF ANY SPECIFIC SECURITIES, INVESTMENTS, OR INVESTMENT STRATEGIES. INVESTMENTS INVOLVE RISK AND UNLESS OTHERWISE STATED, ARE NOT GUARANTEED. BE SURE TO FIRST CONSULT WITH A QUALIFIED FINANCIAL ADVISER AND/OR TAX PROFESSIONAL BEFORE IMPLEMENTING ANY STRATEGY DISCUSSED HEREIN.

The Best Place To Start When Financially Planning Your Future

Someone recently asked me, “Where do I start with financial planning?”

There are many facets to financial planning and it can be overwhelming at times, but we all have to start somewhere.

First, develop a plan to get out of debt.

If you are not in debt, then you can skip to step two.  If you are in debt, then you need to develop a plan to pay off loans due and other debts.  If you only have a small amount of debt and/or if you have the discipline to create and follow a budget then you should be able to make a basic plan in several hours (a good introductory budgeting tool is mint.com).  If your situation is more complex, you may need to consult a financial advisor or consider some online resources.  Here is a great first resource for trying to move past debt (https://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/how-to-handle-debt/)

Second, create an emergency fund.

The general recommendation is to have 3 to 6 months’ worth of living expenses in an emergency fund. What does that mean? Cash in the bank. You need liquidity when it comes to an emergency fund. Three months would be appropriate if you have more than one income earner, multiple sources of income, and/or some other significant assets.  Six months is recommended for families with only one income earner.  Some people prefer to have more cash on hand and some circumstances may dictate that, but as a baseline 3 to 6 months is a good place to start.

Third, consider your life insurance needs.

In some circumstances, this may be the number one priority, but start with the understanding that life insurance should always be there to address a need.  A classic example of insurance need is this: a young family has one income earner and one stay-at-home parent. If the working parent dies or is severely injured and cannot collect any form of disability payment, the surviving parent would need resources to cover expenses for the family.  Another classic need, that often overlaps with the previous example, is a couple with mortgage debt. Life insurance can potentially be used to eliminate that debt after a death.  It is also important to consider disability insurance for these examples as well.  And finally, there may be other needs to address such as the need for liquidity if you’re tied up in delays over an inheritance, or business partnership dispute. Insurance can help. These need to be discussed with a financial advisor or insurance agent. However, if you do fall into one of the first two examples mentioned then you need to consider life insurance a top priority.

These essential steps are the first you can take on the journey to financial independence.  My experience is that starting is the hardest part, so set aside a free day or weekend with your family to sit down, plan, research, and set up what you need. These few hours could save you months or years of stress and worry.


EARTH EQUITY ADVISORS IS A REGISTERED INVESTMENT ADVISER. INFORMATION PRESENTED IS FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY AND DOES NOT INTEND TO MAKE AN OFFER OR SOLICITATION FOR THE SALE OR PURCHASE OF ANY SPECIFIC SECURITIES, INVESTMENTS, OR INVESTMENT STRATEGIES. INVESTMENTS INVOLVE RISK AND UNLESS OTHERWISE STATED, ARE NOT GUARANTEED. BE SURE TO FIRST CONSULT WITH A QUALIFIED FINANCIAL ADVISER AND/OR TAX PROFESSIONAL BEFORE IMPLEMENTING ANY STRATEGY DISCUSSED HEREIN.

How Do You Handle Transitions?

One of my favorite aspects of growing up in Asheville was that we experienced four distinct seasons.  When I grew up and lived in other parts of the country, I appreciated this distinction, and now understand that it matches my curiosity and excitement about what may happen next as change unfolds. My basic personality type seeks out change, and I look forward to the seasonal transitions as nature showcases something new in each one. As we enter the fall season, many of us become aware of the shifting feeling of a transition.  It can show up as an uncertain rumbling of anxiety, or as excitement as the crisp fresh air replaces the summer heat.  How do you handle transitions, whether it is the change of seasons, a new job or home, or a major life transition from a divorce or loss of a loved one?  Our core personality may influence how we approach these chapters, and influence our coping ability.

There are two types of change: external (marriage/divorce, having children, moving, changing jobs) and internal (how attitudes toward change are shaped).

Change theorists surmise there are three stages of change (source):

Stage 1: grieving whatever you are letting go of

Stage 2: period of doubt and uncertainty, where most of the action is internal, i.e. how you’re processing the change

Stage 3: light at the end of the tunnel, where plans begin to take shape and action is ready to be enacted. This is the period where hope for a better outcome begins to take hold

Finding coping mechanisms helps with navigating transition, especially the big ones. (source)

  • Expect a certain amount of anxiety or depression. Even positive changes often mean the loss of something in our lives, i.e. changing jobs means saying goodbye to coworkers we’ve come to think of as friends, buying a house or moving to another state could mean leaving behind a beloved home full of memories, or saying goodbye to friends.
  • Realize this is a new chapter. While acknowledging the losses is healthy, avoid living in the past, and this can be accomplished by thinking of the new thing as a fresh start.
  • Think positively about the transition bringing opportunity. The expression, “When one door closes, another opens,” may be clichéd, but it can also be true. Perhaps a career transition forced by a layoff can become an opportunity to learn a new skill to take your expertise in another, more exciting direction.
  • Avoid stagnation. The longer you take to get started on your new journey, the more chance there is to become inured in routine that feels comfortable but may not be very fulfilling
  • Have a support system. Going through change alone is daunting to say the least, but relying on friends, family, or counselors/coaches can help you maintain your momentum and move forward.
  • Make sure your expectations and timeframes are realistic. There will be difficulties associated with the changes, but taking them one at a time helps keep them from being overwhelming. Biting off more than you can chew is a quick path to giving up. However, by taking the change in manageable chunks helps you not only navigate the transition, but when you look back, you can see how far you’ve come. If you’re visual, make a list and mark how long the tasks take to do, and by the time you’re near completion, you can see how far you’ve come. For example, someone wanting to change careers may need a degree to enter the desired new field. That’s a big obstacle, but going about it one class at a time, they can manage it in smaller doses and before long, degree in hand, they can begin their chosen path and be proud of progress made.

At Earth Equity Advisors, we have noticed that our biggest competition is often not another financial firm, but inertia.

Some people explore responsible investing, yet feel overwhelmed with the thought of moving accounts and establishing a relationship with a new financial advisor.  They may even cringe with they open their statement and see that some long-held investments do not match their values, yet making a change feels like it will take more energy than they can muster up.

At a recent conference, the keynote speaker referenced a psychologist’s statement that as consumers, our first decision to buy a product or service is from the right side of the brain—how it feels to us, rather than all the analytics of price, value, product quality, etc. that come from the left side of the brain.  When it feels right to you, making changes and navigating the transition can feel empowering and positive.

Here’s to embracing change as we enter fall, and cheering nature as the leaves change color—they make transition look easy

Pete Krull To Speak at 2nd Annual Bonfire Conference

We’re excited to announce that Earth Equity’s Peter Krull will be speaking at the 2nd annual Bonfire Conference!

The Bonfire Conference, a 1-day weekend event dedicated to business success through storytelling, is coming to Asheville October 27th. The conference features three keynote speakers and a highly curated panel of four local community leaders to facilitate workshops on tools and strategies for using storytelling to increase engagement.

“Stories connect us in a way that numbers and charts simply can’t. We are a group of individuals who have experience in theatre, performance and business. We have seen the power of bringing the magic of storytelling to our organizations and businesses. We want to share that skill set with others,” says Murphy Funkhouser-Capps, one of Bonfire’s organizers and co-founders. She is the CEO of Kudzu Brands and founded the conference in 2016.

“Stories connect us in a way that numbers and charts simply can’t.

— Murphy Funkhouser-Capps

Storytelling as business strategy is garnering significant attention as a marketing trend. Research indicates that 78% of marketing directors think storytelling and content is the future of marketing. The Bonfire Conference offers storytelling skills for business leaders interested in staying on the cutting edge of brand strategy. By building their own storytelling skills in October, business leaders will have the opportunity to integrate storytelling as a strategy across marketing platforms in 2018.

Pete Krull, along with Asheville community leaders Matt Raker, Cortina Janelle, and Loretta Shelton, will speak at a special guest panel during the conference. 

The conference aims to address common problems business leaders may not realize are related to business storytelling, including:

●     Lack of connection with intended audience

●     A slump in sales

●     Poor engagement from clients, donors or employees

●     A struggle to achieve consistency in brand messaging

●     A struggle to effectively tell a brand’s story in a way that inspires, engages and moves others to action

The Bonfire Conference is geared toward local Asheville and regional business owners, regional CEO’s, sales managers, and marketing directors.


WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:

The Bonfire Conference will be held on Friday, October 27 from 9am-5pm at the Goodwill Corporate Training Center. Individuals and corporate groups can purchase tickets for Bonfire Conference through Eventbrite.

Early bird tickets are available until September 30, at a discounted price of $167.

After September 30, tickets will be $197.

Reversing Global Warming: A Conversation with Katharine Wilkinson and John Sutter

We’re gearing up for our 4th annual Lecture Series, and we couldn’t be more excited about our guests this year.

You’re invited to join us for a special evening at The Collider in downtown Asheville with acclaimed author Katharine Wilkinson and CNN columnist John D. Sutter as we discuss climate change, challenging assumptions and taking action through established solutions and new ideas.

This one-time event will include a panel talk by our guests, moderated by Earth Equity Advisors’ CEO Peter Krull, and followed by a Q&A session. Light refreshments will be served.

Katharine Wilkinson

Katharine Wilkinson

Katharine Wilkinson is the senior writer of the bestselling book, Drawdown, edited by Paul Hawken. She is also the author of Between God and Green. Her background melds research, strategy, and thought leadership on climate action. Katharine holds a D.Phil. in Geography & Environment from Oxford University and a B.A. in Religion from Sewanee.

 John Sutter

John D. Sutter is a senior writer and columnist for CNN. He is the creator of the network’s “2 Degrees” project, which aims to involve readers in climate change coverage. He has received the Livingston Award and the Batten Medal for public service. His work has also been honored by Online News Association, Foreign Press Association, Investigative Reporters and Editors, among others.

This is a free event. Seating is limited.

When: Doors open at 5:30 pm, with light refreshments available, and the talk starts at 6:00 pm.

Where: The Collider, 1 Haywood St Asheville NC 28801

Who: Katharine Wilkinson and John Sutter, brought to you by Earth Equity Advisors

Special thanks to our sponsors:

The Collider

Ray C. Anderson Foundation

Blue Ridge Public Radio & WCQS

JB Media Group

Big Path Capital

Clement Law Firm

Mountain Bizworks

Green Sage Cafe

Earth Equity Advisors Wins Two 2017 B Corp “Best For The World” Awards

Evaluated by Comprehensive B Impact Assessment

Today, Earth Equity Advisors was recognized for making the most positive improvement on its overall impact based on an independent, comprehensive assessment administered by the nonprofit B Lab. Honorees are featured on B the Change, the digital Medium publication produced by B Lab, at http://www.bthechange.com.

Earth Equity Advisors is honored in the Best for the World: Changemakers list as well as Best For The World: Customers list, which honors positive impact and behavior change among Certified B Corporations across all categories on the B Impact Assessment.

Additional 2017 Best for the World: Changemakers honorees include: Traditional Medicinals and Beneficial State Bank.

We are thrilled to also be awarded in the Best for Customers category, which includes businesses that earned a Customer score in the top 10 percent of more than 2,100 Certified B Corporations on the B Impact Assessment.

The Customer portion of the B Impact Assessment measures the impact a company has on its customers by focusing on whether a company sells products or services that promote public benefit and if those products/services are targeted toward serving underserved populations. The section also measures whether a company’s product or service is designed to solve a social or environmental issue (improving health, preserving environment, creating economic opportunity for individuals or communities, promoting the arts/sciences, or increasing the flow of capital to purpose-driven enterprises). Honorees scoring in the top 10 percent set a gold standard for the high impact that business as a force for good can make on consumers around the world.

Additional 2017 Best for Customers honorees include: AltSchool; Revolution Foods; and Warby Parker.

How B Corp Certification Works

To certify as B Corporations, companies like Earth Equity must complete the full assessment and have their answers verified by B Lab and re-certify every two years. The Best for the World: Changemakers list honors the improvement made by B Corporations from one certification to the next.

The full B Impact Assessment evaluates a company’s environmental performance, employee relationships, diversity, involvement in the local community, the impact a company’s product or service has on those it serves, and more. Honorees making significant improvements in their B Impact score set a gold standard for the high impact that business as a force for good can make in the world.

B Lab simultaneously released separate lists recognizing B Corporations as Best for the Environment, Best for Customers, Best for the Long Term, Best for Community, Best for Workers and Best for the World Overall, which can be at http://www.bthechange.com.

“Companies like Earth Equity Advisors exemplify what it means for a business to be a good citizen,” says Jay Coen Gilbert, co-founder of B Lab. “We’re proud to recognize their achievement. Best for the World is the only list of businesses making the greatest positive impact that uses comprehensive, comparable, third-party-validated data about a company’s social and environmental performance.”

A total of 846 Certified B Corporations were named 2017 Best for the World Honorees, including: Patagonia; Seventh Generation; National Co+op Grocers; and Business Development Bank of Canada. Forty-eight countries are represented, including Afghanistan, Kenya, Nicaragua and Turkey. The selection criteria for Best for the World honorees are available at http://bit.ly/29ZYRSp.

Today there are more than 2,100 Certified B Corporations across more than 130 industries and 50 countries, unified by one common goal: to redefine success in business. Any company can measure and manage social and environmental performance at http://bimpactassessment.net.

The Long and Short of Socially Responsible Investing

With the rise of companies engaging in socially and environmentally responsible business practices—fair trade partnerships, living wages for all workers, utilizing sustainable manufacturing and harvesting practices to name a few—debates have risen about what impact our investing strategies have. Is it just as good to invest in a company that donates a little bit of profit to charities every year as it is to choose a company intent on growing their triple bottom line? (Triple bottom line companies focus on financial, environmental, and social outcomes.) Are there short or long-term benefits to one over the other?

Let’s look at two supermarket chains as an example. Ingles Markets provides $1000 scholarships to high school graduates who are employees or children of employees at any of their stores. This can be called an investment in the next generation, ensuring a means to a college education for young people who may not otherwise have the assets for tuition and housing. It fosters goodwill in every city where an Ingles Market is located, which prompts investment in the chain with investors knowing their money supports a company that’s interested in the future. But is awarding scholarships, or donating a portion of profits to local or national charities, the best the chain can do?

In the short-term, such investment in a company like Ingles Markets has a positive impact, but some argue it isn’t enough. In contrast, the Whole Foods Market chain strives to forge partnerships with suppliers in poor third world countries to facilitate fair trade and sustainable farming practices while bringing nutritious foods to underserved portions of the US. This is more than a profit making decision. It’s a boost to the company’s core values by widening their influence for the benefit of populations who need the most help. While it sometimes does make the products in Whole Foods Markets more expensive for the consumer, the chain’s success over the last decade proves sustainable practices that grow a company’s triple bottom line are attractive to consumers and investors alike.

“This is more than a profit making decision. It’s a boost to the company’s core values by widening their influence for the benefit of populations who need the most help. ”

The winds of change have driven many companies to behave in a more responsible manner, not just for their financial growth, but also for the benefit of the environment and society as a whole. Investment in socially and environmentally responsible companies is on the rise, currently a $20 trillion dollar industry. Studies have shown companies that cared about social and environmental responsibility had better operational efficiency, lower cost of capital, and better stock price performance.

Can a company that doles out scholarships or charitable donations compete with companies that reach farther and wider in their fair trade, sustainable, and environmentally conscious efforts?

Investing in companies that understand the value of giving to the communities in which they do business is not a bad choice if you’re looking for short-term impact. But for how long will that strategy remain competitive? As the emphasis on the worldwide impact of business rises, triple-bottom-line companies can convince investors they’re in it for the long haul, and not just for the next generation, but the ones that follow.


Interested in responsible investing for the long term? We can help. Contact us for a complimentary consultation.

How College Students Can Build Money Skills

Generic advice for college students to make wise financial decisions and stay out of debt can be challenging since there is no “one size fits all” solution.  Each college student comes from a different financial situation, whether they are putting themselves through school while working, or whether they are receiving financial assistance or support from family.  With that in mind, some broad advice we like to give college students is to use the acronym HIVE:

 H – Have fun! 

This may sound like odd financial advice, but enjoy your time in college.  College is expensive and you should feel passionate about what you are studying and you should also take the opportunity to connect with new people- even volunteering some time or (if your budget allows) donating a few dollars to support a charity or cause that resonates with you.

I—Intentional money management

Create a budget with less than 10 categories and use apps to keep it in check (there are several free budgeting apps like Mint.com).  Linking your debit card means you will always know where your money is going (cash can sometimes be invisible in a system like this).

V—Values based buying

Try to find creative ways to reuse, recycle, repurpose.  It will be great for your budget!  When it is necessary to buy new, find companies that match your values.  Review options of Benefit Corporations (“B Corps”) for products and services.

E—Empowerment through understanding debt

If you need student loans, try to keep them to a minimum and make sure you understand the long-term ramification of the amount of debt you take on.  Also, be aware that credit cards can be money traps.  Although they can be helpful in building up your personal credit score, try to only use them when you know you can pay off the balance monthly.  This can prepare you for independence and help set you up for success after college.  Look for local nonprofits that offer free or low-cost classes on understanding credit and money management.  Financial independence is the most empowering force to allow choices in life.  Harness money to support self-reliance, dream fulfillment and flexibility—make money work FOR you instead of the other way around!

If your parents are working with a financial advisor, you may want to schedule a time to discuss financial questions specific to your situation.  By honing your money skills now, you can enjoy today AND build for the future.