MY DIVESTMENT JOURNEY
Three years ago, as part of my journey to becoming a more responsible business owner I put divestment high on the list. That is, divestment from where I held money either in superannuation/pension and/or investment funds.
It seemed to be the box that never got ticked. Too hard, too complicated, too many forms.
What tipped the balance was finding out that my (now ex-)superannuation fund was in the bottom quartile of Australian funds. Essentially, it was junk.
But knowing who to go to, who to trust, took time. There are lots of conflicting views on what funds really are ethical, which genuinely fit the bill as an ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) fund… and which are actually regenerative (a topic for another day). If you prefer to work with a financial advisor, you also need to do your due diligence on the person, company and the financial products they offer.
At this point please note I am NOT a financial advisor and the views expressed here are entirely my own.
TAKING THE LEAP
I kept telling myself that there would be a “right time” to do this. But unless you have your finger on the money pulse, it’s hard to know which way the markets will swing. In the end, I switched at a pretty bad time, given the volatility of the markets. All up it took about 4 months, but when I finally signed the last form, I whooped.
Now, when I get my financial updates, I don’t ignore them. I feel good about the fact that my money is being invested in renewable energy generation (solar, wind), social and affordable housing and sustainable infrastructure… among other things
I wish I could say that the returns have been huge. But so far they haven’t. My ethical investor Hope Evans at Simply Ethical Advice keeps reminding me that thinking regeneratively means thinking long-term. And that this is a particularly unpredictable time in global markets.
DO YOUR RESEARCH
I appreciate that for anyone who is nearing retirement, making the switch brings complexities as you might not have that luxury to wait. But for those of us who can, taking the time to do the research is the first step. According to the community-led organisation 350.org, in the US alone, hundreds of institutions and local governments, plus thousands of individuals, representing over US$1.5 trillion in assets, have pledged to divest from fossil fuels.
I also realise that the topic of money, especially when it’s your own, is emotional. Especially at a time when everyone is being squeezed: inflation is going up, and so are prices.
But there’s something empowering understanding the full impact of knowing how you vote with your money.
Making a real difference
When it comes to making a difference, we might think that the small things matter. But in the scheme of things, the odd takeaway coffee cup is not worth sweating over (nor is stressing if you forget your keep cup next time you order a takeaway coffee.)
Divestment is one of the biggest lead dominoes you can have in your backpocket.
It’s where we invest our cash… and where the companies we work for or buy from, invest their cash that has a bigger impact. But the subject of corporate is for another time.
3 STEPS TOWARDS DIVESTMENT
- Visit Bank Green to find out how green your bank is.
- Once you have found a more ethical bank option, schedule an appointment to check they will be right for you/your business.
- Schedule time in your calendar to do the paperwork… and be prepared to take a leap of faith — but know you are in very good company.
Lastly share this article with someone you care about – who also cares about doing the right thing!