Joel Solomon is Co-Founding Partner of Renewal Funds, Canada's largest mission venture capital firm, investing in Organics and EnviroTech in Canada and the USA. He is also the co-author of the Clean Money Revolution, a call to action to move trillions of dollars from damage to regeneration.
I want my money invested in what I believe in. Do you?
It sounds like a no-brainer, but I’m old enough to remember when the only purpose of money was to make more of it. “Don’t tell me about the harm it may do, just grow my account as fast as you can,” was the attitude.
This ideology of “more” is a powerful one, and questioning it is still heresy in many circles. After all, our consciences can be easily soothed when we’re shown the bottom line. Our ethical concerns can be swept aside by those managing our money with statements like “this is just how things work,” or “you’ll lose your money if you invest like that.”
The good news is this is changing. Individuals are demanding better options and banks and investment companies are responding, slowly.
“Voting with your money is only one part of the equation. We also need good places to put our money, and that starts with asking questions."
“Vote with your money,” is what we’re told, but that’s only one part of the equation. We also need good places to put our money, and that starts with asking questions.
Those questions will lead to new and better investment products, retirement funds, insurance products, bank account options, wealth and pension fund management. Companies with good environmental, social and governance practices will be rewarded with easier access to capital. Cleaner consumer goods, ethical sourcing policies, environmental regulations, reduced discrimination and greater equality will follow.
"Those questions will lead to new and better investment products. Cleaner consumer goods, ethical sourcing policies and reduced discrimination will follow."
Those managing our money do listen, but they need to hear from us. Yes, it can be intimidating, but you don’t need to be an expert to get started.
Tell your wealth manager what you want:
- What responsible investment options can you offer me?
- Can you give me a fair financial return aligned with my values?
- Will you respect what I’m asking for?
- Can you explain to me what responsible investment criteria were used to create this investment product?
Give them feedback:
- I’m ok with this, but absolutely not that.
- I’ve seen other options that I’d prefer. Will you add them to my portfolio?
- I’m not seeing change. Why not?
- Since we last met, what have you learned about the investments I’ve asked for?
- How soon can I expect to see more progress?
And if necessary:
- I'm researching other wealth manager/organizations/products.
- I'm considering moving my money to XYZ bank/credit union/RRSP provider/wealth management firm.
- Do you want my business? If not, please let me know how to move my account.
Expect pushback. These questions aren’t actually annoying. You have every right to ask, but those managing your money may not want to listen. You’ll need to be persistent.
"Imagine that every dollar you’ve ever spent or invested had your signature on it, like an old-fashioned blockchain. You’d be able to see pretty quickly what effect you’re having on the world."
Imagine that every dollar you’ve ever spent or invested had your signature on it, like an old-fashioned blockchain. You’d be able to see pretty quickly what effect you’re having on the world. It’s a long and possibly dirty chain, and you might be horrified to see where it ends.
Our money represents us in the world. We're responsible for how we use it and who we entrust with it.
At the end of the day, you are the client and you deserve a portfolio you can be proud of. We need to hassle and push those who manage our savings, pensions, insurance, and investments. As lovingly as we can, but as tough as we need to be.
Push for what you want. Push harder. Ask annoying questions.
It matters. The future is counting on us.