Celebrating 7 years of ethical investing: a journey of impact and growthAug 27, 2023
Welcome to our biz-versary celebration, and thank you! It is your support that has helped us grow and reach more investors, advisers, and finance professionals. Because of you, we are closer to achieving our mission of reimagining the investment chain for a sustainable future, ensuring every finance professional is equipped to connect every investor with ethical investment opportunities. Here are just some of the highlights, embarrassing times, and light bulb moments that have shaped our journey to today; our 7-year anniversary in business.
In this blog, Ethical Invest Group’s founder, Alexandra Brown, reminisces about just a few of the funny and poignant steps in our 7-year history. Over to you, Alexandra!
The image below by Sarah Anderson is one of my favourite reminders to take a moment and recognise the achievements each year brings. When we are in the middle of living and growing a business, it can seem like we’re not getting very far, but if we pause and look back, we can see just how far we’ve come.
Source: Sarah Andersen
A look back on the journey
Did you know we have not always been called Ethical Invest Group? If you’ve been with us for a while, you may remember we used to be Invest with Ethics. And, if you have been with us from the beginning, you may have uttered the mouthful of words that made up my original business name; Socially Responsible Investor. Yes, back in 2016, I thought a name with ten syllables was catchy! Like choosing a ridiculously long name, there have been a host of embarrassing moments, but I’m grateful for each and every one of them, as they have brought me and my business to where we are today. I consider the mistakes, challenges and failed attempts fondly; they are my ‘growth moments’.
Growth moment #568
My logos have certainly been… interesting.
Ethical Invest Group's logo history from 2016 to 2023.
From the hand-painted watercolour ‘Earth’ of Socially Responsible Investor back in 2016, to the heartfelt meaning of the “E” in Invest with Ethics, to the interim logo as we changed colour palette, each logo represents a new stage of growth. Our current logo was created in 2021 by amazing designer and artist, Emma Veiga-Malta, as this was the year we established Ethical Invest Group as a company. Since then, we have expanded our collection of resources helping financial advisers and supporting finance professionals across the globe.
Here’s just a few of the milestones in the past seven years:
- In 2016 I began my first consulting role in ethical investing with Andrew Gaston and his financial planning firm, Accord Financial Strategies. To this day I am still on their investments committee, and I am incredibly grateful for Andrew’s mentorship and support through all these years.
- The Ethical advisers’ Co-op is a group of advisers across Australia and New Zealand who specialise in ethical investment advice. I joined them in 2016, and was pleased to be a Board director from 2019 to 2022, and support the strategic direction of the Co-op. The Co-op advisers are an inspiring bunch of humans, who care deeply about their clients and investing for positive impact. They have shaped my understanding of what it means to specialise in values-based advice and advocate on behalf of clients.
- In 2019 I co-founded Altiorem, a sustainable finance library and advocacy platform. We are on a mission to change finance for a sustainable future.
- I had my first backdrop designed in 2020, and because I love sunflowers, I thought it would be a great idea to include them!
Growth moment #723
Sunflowers may not appeal to my target audience.
2020 backdrop: Invest with Ethics
Branding is about appealing to your audience, and just because my favourite flower is sunflowers, my 2020 target audience of predominantly male financial advisers is perhaps not as delighted. #learning
2021 backdrop: Ethical Invest Group
New backdrop with images depicting the 17 Sustainable Development Goals = perfectly aligned with my marketing, and me! You might be able to spot the mousepad on my desk that has sunflowers. (You can take the sunflowers out of the marketing, but you can’t take them out of me - haha!)
- My first website went live in 2020, and I was so proud of it. Looking back now, it is embarrassing how amateur it looks, but at the time I celebrated this important milestone.
2020 website: Invest with Ethics
This one photo of me was used throughout the website, but I mixed it up by flipping it or removing the background and adding different colours. As a recovering perfectionist, it was difficult to publish my website without having a professional photo shoot and lots of photos, but ‘done is better than perfect’ and my first website was pivotal in growing my brand and helping clients find me so I could support them.
- I ran my first webinar in 2020 for financial advisers, sharing the steps to get confident with client discussions around ESG, ethics, and values. Now, I present multiple times per year and am a regular speaker at events.
- After two years in the making, the Ethical Advice Accelerator was launched in 2021. This content-rich, high-touch, and CPD-accredited online program, supports financial advisers with gaining the skills to analyse and recommend responsible investment products, and the tools to confidently discuss client values and preferences. Currently for Australian financial advisers, we are expanding the content to include New Zealand advisers, with the aim to eventually educate advisers in major regions across the world.
- I also launched a podcast in 2021, the Ethical Invest Podcast, and am currently developing some brand new content. If you have something in ESG, sustainable finance, or ethical investment advice that you’d like covered, ask your question here.
- Now in the second half of 2023, I’m currently working on a new short course for investors to learn about sustainable investing, plus an audio learning platform for finance professionals to upskill in ESG and sustainable finance.
Ethical Invest Group's impact
In 2019 I read a report about the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and this sparked an idea to leverage my skills and create positive change. The SDGs are a set of global goals that aim to protect our environment, and create an equitable planet for all people. There was a diagram showing the investment chain, and how money travels from people/investors to the SDGs, through organisations, financial institutions, foundations, and governments.
I recognised two things.
One: to help achieve the goals we need all members of the finance industry to understand sustainability.
Two: financial advisers should be in the diagram (see the yellow arrow below).
Prior to this I was predominantly focusing on consulting, and working 1:1 with advisers to help them understand and implement ethical investment advice. But at this moment, I knew that to create the impact I was aiming for, I needed to reach advisers at scale. In 2019, I began developing the Accelerator program, and successfully launched it in 2021.
At Ethical Invest Group, we are committed to creating ripples of change. We know that for every financial adviser who completes the Ethical Advice Accelerator program, hundreds more investors will have the chance to choose where their money goes. For each subscriber to our upcoming learning platform ESG Audios, we know the knowledge and skills to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals will expand and reach even further.
Kind words from Ethical Advice Accelerator graduate Nataliya Dikovskaya, NASHAUS Consulting.
We are driven by our desire to provide support, education, and professional development, and magnify peoples’ ability to create positive impact.
Growing together: the Ethical Invest community
Ethical Invest Group has grown thanks to an inspiring network of business and finance professionals, and key team members.
Thanks to the following:
Our partners: the Responsible Investment Association Australasia, the Ethical Advisers’ Co-op, Oko Adviser, and Ethos. These leading organisations recognise the need for further education and support for finance professionals, and are vocal advocates for ethical and responsible investment. They have championed Ethical Invest Group’s mission and helped us to reach and assist a diverse range of finance professionals.
Accelerator graduates: my heartfelt thanks for joining the Ethical Advice Accelerator program, proactively equipping yourselves with everything you need to provide ethical investment advice, and helping your clients in the best way possible. You are positively impacting your business, your clients, and the planet. A special shout out to Nathan Fradley, for being the very first adviser to join us, and someone who has consistently endorsed the program and what we do.
Fund managers: too many to name, but you know who you are. My gratitude to all the ethical investment portfolio managers and your teams for the hours we’ve discussed how to invest better, what to invest in or avoid, and listening to feedback so you can better serve advisers and their clients. Thank you for taking your stewardship role seriously, advocating for investing to create positive change, and engaging with companies to improve their sustainability. You are integral in changing the finance industry, and supporting the SDGs.
Our people: there are a few key people that have been pivotal in shaping my business and me. Being in business is not always easy, but I’ve had the opportunity to work with incredible people who have guided, encouraged, and strengthened me. Thank you to Tash Corbin for being my illustrious strategic business coach, Claire Riley for your marketing and systems prowess, Belinda White for clearing the overwhelm and bringing in joy as my business manager, Amanda Barrington for creating my magnificent website, and Emma Veiga-Malta for your beautiful and thoughtful design work in my backdrop and branding.
Altiorem: it has been my utmost privilege to co-found Altiorem alongside Pablo Berrutti and Mariana Wheatley, and work with such a purpose-driven team. Pablo, you are incredibly generous with your time and vast knowledge, and I pinch myself that I am able to work so closely with responsible investment royalty. You are a true leader in this industry, enabling those around you to shine bright and become changemakers too.
My friends and family have been crucial to the success of Ethical Invest Group, and I thank each of you for being part of the ups and downs, and celebrating the milestones. There have been many people and businesses that I have crossed paths with over the past seven years, and I am grateful to you for your ideas, support, and connection.
Looking ahead: Exciting plans for the future
At the moment, we are developing and launching ESG Audios, an innovative learning platform to help close the skills gap in ESG and sustainable finance. Members across the globe will be able to listen to top research reports professionally narrated by humanised AI technology, and stay ahead of the curve. Join the waitlist to get a special offer when we officially launch in 2024.
While the Ethical Advice Accelerator is perfect for financial advisers to get across ESG, sustainability, and values-based advice, we recognise that individuals are eager to learn more about this too. Very soon, investors will have a short course to help them understand how they can make a difference with their money, including investments held in pension funds. The Sustainable Investor equips individuals with knowledge about sustainable investment options, and how environmental and social issues can be addressed in money and finance. It provides tangible resources like one-page printables so investors feel empowered to confidently speak up to their financial adviser about investments that aren’t aligned with their values.
The response to this new course for investors has been incredibly positive and heart-warming:
Encouraging words about our new course: The Sustainable Investor
I am fortunate to have been doing what I love for seven years now. Sharing knowledge about ESG and sustainability, and developing new and innovative ways to close the skills gap in sustainable finance, absolutely fills my cup.
You’re invited to be a changemaker too! Participating in any of our courses will equip you with the tools and skills you need to allocate capital towards sustainability, and the confidence to advocate for change. We have a bunch of high-value free resources too.
To continue our mission, we know the best way forward is with others. We welcome partnerships and collaborations with like-minded individuals and businesses. Please reach out to us if you feel we are aligned.
And remember to check out our upcoming events and get involved!
Ethical Invest Group has grown into an awe-inspiring company dedicated to expanding the impact of investors and finance professionals. This journey has been filled with learning opportunities, and ‘growth moments’, and it’s important to celebrate the milestones.
We are grateful for the people and organisations who have shared this journey with us. Thank you, dear reader, for taking the time to follow our story. We appreciate you.
To create a sustainable future, we need individuals, governments, the finance industry, and businesses to work together in regenerating our planet, creating equitable societies, and building resilient economies. We believe it is possible. At Ethical Invest Group, we will continue to create ripples of change and nurture powerful waves of action.
This information is issued by Ethical Invest Group (EIG) (ABN 29 238 432 149) in relation to the trend toward sustainability in financial advice.
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