Investing To Fight Climate Change Topic Of Westport Forum
Simon Alumni Q&A
WHAT BROUGHT YOU TO SIMON?
After realizing I wanted to change my career out of engineering and into finance, an MBA was a must. I grew up south of Rochester and knew of the great academic reputation of the University of Rochester. After researching the MBA program in more detail and speaking with the Simon School Admissions department, I was sold. The program’s size, culture, and education offered an intimate and exciting atmosphere.
WHO WAS YOUR FAVORITE SIMON PROFESSOR?
There were several professors I think about often, including Prof. Cliff Smith and Prof. Charles Wasley. They had distinct teaching styles and had a great dry humor. I’ve used what they taught throughout my finance career and to this day.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE SIMON MEMORY?
I was particularly close to six Simon classmates. To celebrate receiving and accepting our full-time employment offers in our second year, we each took each other out to dinner. We tried many different cuisines throughout the Rochester metro area, which, by the way, has excellent choices!
WHY DID YOU START ENVEST ASSET MANAGEMENT?
Our company was formed as a grassroots mission-based effort to bring Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) and Sustainable and Responsible Investment (SRI) practices to individuals, families, businesses, and nonprofits ( i.e., retail clients rather than institutional). ESG/SRI augments conscious consumerism from product-focused consumption, which is important, to investment activism that can also help promote and influence corporate environmental and social change. Our company helps bring awareness to the unintended consequences to corporate decision-making.
ARE ECONOMIC RETURNS AND SOCIAL OR ENVIRONMENTAL PROGRESS INHERENTLY AT ODDS? IS IT POSSIBLE TO PRIORITIZE BOTH IN YOUR INVESTING?
I don’t believe they are at odds; quite the opposite. The Business Roundtable recently redefined the purpose of a corporation from maximizing shareholder value to maximizing stakeholder value. By considering their financial, environmental, and social impact, corporations can increase revenue, decrease expenses, and manage risk, which can lead to long-term investor value.
ARE YOUR CLIENTS ALREADY SOLD ON THE
IDEA OF ESG/SRI OR IS THERE SOME CLIENT
Our clients recognize the value of a financial plan and want to augment that with ESG/SRI options, so education in sustainable literacy is always involved. And there are so many options given the size of the market, its growth, and how it’s evolved. For example, over 25 percent of professionally managed accounts are invested sustainably. That’s $12 trillion in the ESG/SRI space, according to US SIF. We help them navigate those options while working toward their financial goals.
WHAT KIND OF IMPACT CAN SMALLER INVESTORS HAVE ON ENVIRONMENTAL AND SUSTAINABILITY ISSUES THAT MAY SEEM OVERWHELMING AND IMMOVABLE?
There is personal impact, like reducing your personal carbon footprint. There is also the ability to mobilize companies. As Larry Fink, CEO of BlackRock, one of the world’s largest asset managers, whose clients are smaller investors through personal accounts or corporate retirement accounts, said, “Companies that fulfill their purpose and responsibilities
to stakeholders reap rewards over the long-term.”
WHAT STRATEGIES DO YOU USE TO CONSTRUCT AND MANAGE SUSTAINABLE PORTFOLIOS FOR YOUR CLIENTS?
We use a combination of passive and active investing coupled with modern portfolio theory. However, the key differentiation is client driven. There are investment options that can home in on clients’ ethics. There are investment options that focus on religious beliefs, social and gender equality, military veteran employment, clean energy, water technology, waste management, and forestry, to name a few. There are also indexed-based ESG/SRI investment options made up of large-, mid-, and small-cap portfolios.
DO YOU STILL USE YOUR SIMON EDUCATION IN YOUR WORK?
Every day. Not only do we review clients’ investment portfolios using portfolio theory and common practices taught at Simon, but we also look at private investment opportunities into private sustainable companies. This involves in-depth analysis on the financial models, valuation, alignment of interest among investors and the company, along with many other skills taught at Simon.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE WOULD-BE
ENTREPRENEURS WHO ARE THINKING ABOUT
STARTING THEIR OWN BUSINESS?
A business plan is the most important aspect to starting a business. Do research to understand the long-term viability of your idea and its value proposition. Once you’ve done that, leverage your network. The Simon community continues to be a great resource helping create and manage a business.
Want To Learn More
* * * For Immediate Release * * *
CT-Based Investment Advisor Obtains B-Corp Certification
Sustainably Focused Financial Advisor Increases Sustainability Mandates
Ridgefield, CT – – February 4, 2020 – – Envest Asset Management, LLC (“EnvestAM”) is proud to announce its Certification as a B Corporation (“B Corp”) from B Lab, the preeminent nonprofit that serves a global movement of people using business to make a positive environmental and social impact. EnvestAM offers investment advice and financial planning focused on socially responsible and sustainable investing. It is one of only six Connecticut-based companies to receive the B Corp designation.
“EnvestAM was founded upon the belief that we can do more to fight the climate crisis. We do this by increasing sustainability through personal investing,” said James Osborn, Founder of EnvestAM. “We are excited to be recognized as a Certified B Corp as it underscores that our services and practices do just that, help better the world.”
Obtaining B Corp Certification is a challenging, rigorous process. A company’s impact on all stakeholders, including their communities, suppliers, workers, environment, and others, are evaluated and measured against the highest performance standards. Jen Gorin, Founder of Impact Growth Partners, also a CT-based Certified B Corp who helps companies maximize their social and environmental impact, said, “EnvestAM is a perfect example of a values-driven company, and earning a B Corp certification demonstrates their commitment to balance profits with purpose.”
Certified B Corps are leaders of a global movement of people using business as a force for good. They meet the highest standards of overall social and environmental performance, transparency and accountability and aspire to use the power of business to solve social and environmental problems. There are more than 3,200 Certified B Corporations in over 150 industries and 71 countries with 1 unifying goal – to redefine success in business.
For more information contact: James Osborn at 516-521-7898 or firstname.lastname@example.org
About Envest Asset Management, LLC
Independent, fiduciary, client obsessive – Envest Asset Management, LLC provides financial planning and investment management to individuals, families, businesses, and non-profits focused on socially responsible and sustainable investing. Its founder spent his entire career involved with social responsibility and sustainability – formerly as an environmental engineer, an investment banker in social infrastructure, and private debt and equity investor in clean energy. He worked at some of the largest investment banks and, most recently, on behalf of some of the largest institutional investors via a clean energy focused private equity fund.
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Want To Learn More?
Championing Sustainability through Asset Management
Who: James Osborn ’02 ChE
What: Founder of Envest Asset Management, LLC (“EAM”), a financial planning, investment management and alternative investment service that considers the critical components of sustainability, social responsibility and governance in its decision making
Professional Experience: From environmental engineer to investment banker in social infrastructure to private equity investor in the clean energy space
On Sustainability & Investing: “I want to dispel the myths that social and sustainable investing is meant only for large institutions, or those that want to sacrifice economic return for social or environmental progress.”
He offers the following statistics for companies that utilize sustainability in their corporate practices:
- Companies that have a higher deployment of ESG strategies (Environmental, Social and Governance) show higher return potential and are valued at a premium when compared to their peers.
- Companies that have higher ESG ratings tended to show higher profitability and dividend yield.
- A majority of corporate executives believe that a sustainable strategy is required to remain competitive.
- Investors play a large part in corporate sustainability and stewardship. Investors have shown a willingness to take action if sustainability issues are not being effectively addressed by the company.
“It’s my job to identify investment opportunities that have higher sustainability measures and match that to my client’s needs. This is a highly individualized process, and as a fiduciary many considerations must be taken to determine an appropriate financial and investment strategy for a client.”
Villanova’s Influence: “Villanova’s rigorous athletics, its engineering curriculum, as well as the Augustinian values embedded in the DNA of the school prepared me for the work that eventually led to this venture. The Villanova attitude and education has been invaluable. My time as a Villanova athlete instilled in me drive, determination and hard work. The education and culture provided me a systematic approach to solving problems by combining high, analytical thinking along with the ability to transform lives through environmentalism, and community. Villanova is a thought leader in education and sustainability.”
The former track and field and cross-country competitor, whose family contributed a named locker to the new track and field locker room, says, “I wouldn’t be where I am at today if it wasn’t for Villanova. Because of this, I stay Villanova-active by helping with speaking arrangements, events and mentorship. It’s the least I can do for a program that has provided so much.”