My path to financial planning was a rather circuitous one — from law school to the military to environmental conservation. I finally found the profession that combines my love of economics, investing, long-term planning, problem solving, and helping clients. I’d love to discuss any of these topics with you. However, it’s my interest in environmental conservation and my concern for climate change that provided the real motivation to make this career change.
While obtaining a Master of Laws (LLM) in Environmental Law at Lewis & Clark Law School in Portland, OR, I learned about environmental economics, market-based incentives to reduce pollution, quantifying the benefits of ecosystem services, and corporate social responsibility. (If you want to learn more about those terms or just want to discuss them for fun, let me know — I could talk about this stuff for hours!) At some point a light bulb went off for me, and I realized my passion was promoting better stewardship of the earth and improving the health of our planet for future generations.
In the United States, because of our culture and political system, we will not fix the environment or solve climate change until businesses and major investors see the business case for conservation. While studying environmental law and working at an environmental nonprofit organization, I saw first-hand the slow pace of change using the law and policy route. While this approach is necessary, I was also exposed to the more exciting field broadly defined as environmental economics. This approach, using new technologies, attempts to quantify the effect on the environment of specific acts of pollution and conservation. This data can then be used by companies in business planning and by regulators to create market incentives. This is the future of environmental conservation.
I believe the emerging conversations around sustainability and corporate social responsibility – in both social circles and boardrooms – will continue to expand. Many consumers are deciding to "vote with their wallet." Many businesses are realizing the importance of keeping their "social license" in good standing. Some significant shareholders are encouraging corporations to look beyond pure profit motives and consider other factors that create value. Furthermore, businesses are realizing that, in a world of 7+ billion with a growing global middle-class, raw materials and ecosystem services are not infinite. A traditional cost-benefit analysis is forcing many companies to realize the value of conservation. Thus the rise of values-based and socially responsible investing.
Everyone knows to “follow the money” when you want real answers. I believe that the money starting to flow toward conservation and social responsibility will continue to accelerate as people become more aware of the issues, as new technology arrives, as women gain influence in corporate cultures, and as Millennials come of age.
I believe that the "business case" for sustainability and conservation – based on environmental economics and on corporate social license – will achieve greater and faster results than regulation. Investors who have these goals can promote the business case approach by investing strategically. Thus, (finally arriving at my point) I am passionate about helping people invest in a way that promotes social responsibility through the market.
With all that being said, I respect everyone’s values and personal passion. Maybe you want to use your investments to promote a different cause. I’d love to help you with that too. My mission is to help bring your investments into closer alignment with your values.