This is my last regular column for Citywire RIAwhich means it is time to think about what we have learned over the past two years and how we can use it.
I have used this space to sort through some of the thorniest issues of our time, touching on everything from race to gender to neurodiversity. I’ve also told you a lot about myself, from my identity as a transgender woman, which influences my views on inclusion, to the lessons my great grandmother taught me on how to effectively drive social change.
The underlying theme of all of these columns is that it is impractical and ineffective to look at these issues in isolation. They overlap and shape the experiences of our customers, colleagues, and communities in unobvious ways. You also have a clear insight: We have several options for making a difference. And we have to take hold of it.
I know these essays made a difference because of the fantastic conversations I had with the readers. We were delighted as the CFP Board of Directors revised a retrograde advisory bankruptcy policy and reformulated our views on the possible changes in the process. We have also learned to set our goals higher and replace the pursuit of “good enough” with continued engagement of our best efforts.
This brings us to what I’ll do next.
I’ve already written on these pages about the steps I’ve taken to ensure Invest Vegan, the ethics-first asset management company I founded, is as inclusive as possible. But I haven’t really explained how it works, what makes it unique, or what opportunities it opens up for us to work together in the future.
The company name is intended as a two-word model. We strive to invest in companies that avoid preventable harm to living things while making meaningful contributions to a better world for all. That means no slaughterhouses or tanneries, but also no predatory lending, surveillance capitalism, or discriminatory employment practices.
After manually reviewing the public company landscape to remove objectionable ones, I applied the basic investment principles I learned in nearly nine years at the CFA Institute to create a focused portfolio of the most attractive opportunities. The result is a portfolio that is distinctive yet diversified enough to play a central role in clients’ portfolios.
This is vital as many of the people we work for do not trust the values that underlie most investment options. So you don’t invest at all, you miss out on the magic of compounding and you stay poor.
The only way to fix this is to thoroughly renovate the underlying process, make sure potential concerns are addressed long before they arise, and work with values that are easy to identify and, in fact, see straight away.
There is no doubt that the deck is stacked against me. Forget for a second that investing is inherently difficult, and remember that asset management firms run by women and other minorities are so rare that they are critically endangered. I am not aware of any other company in the world that is run by a trans person. Building my own means breaking down some doors, but it’s also one of the best ways to make sure they’re open to others.
So this is not a goodbye. You will hear from me again on these subjects, maybe even more than before.
Instead, see this as a direct invitation to apply the lessons I have shared with you to the problem of portfolio construction and to work together to rebuild the industry in a more inclusive form. If that’s of interest, don’t hesitate to get in touch.