Sustainable investing

WRITER: CATARINA BÖCKERMAN
Illustration: Emilia

(MONEY TALK)

sustainable investing

invest ɪnˈvɛst/

verb

-provide or endow someone or something with (a particular quality or attribute).

Everything is energy. You, me & all that we are surrounded with is purely energy. This energy is our trading mechanism. Surely we can buy with money, but have you ever wondered how you use your energy, to what you use it for? 

 

We invest all the time, and our energy is our currency. All that we choose to consume, is either conscious or unconscious investing. What we choose to listen to, watch to, eat etc. All of our daily actions echoe to eternity. All of these actions are investments to yourself and to this earth. You can either gain or lose from these daily investments you make. 

 

When I started to view my reality like this, I started to pay close attention to how I was using my energy aka, what I was investing my energy in.  All that you consume you become.

 

So now when that’s out there, let’s talk about sustainable investing. Now we could call this conscious investing with a good heart. There’s different scales of this type of investing, but they all are as important. The most obvious investing we do with this energy we call money, is what we choose to buy. Everything from clothes to food and from drinks to experiences, we trade with energy carried through money. This energy can be either uplifting, healing and expanding when it comes to ourselves and this planet. Or it can be harming and depleting. 

 

You choose, you’re the investor and your currency is energy.  

 

I got to interview this conscious being, who knows all about sustainable investing. So let's dive into some conscious, expanding, uplifting and healing perspectives on investing. Let me introduce you Peter Lindström, Sustainable finance specialist:

 

What got you to choose this path? 

 I had been working in the finance field in London and New York for a long time. During the financial crisis from 2008 onwards, I came across the growing field of sustainable investing and realized that the financial markets could be looked at from a different perspective – one that takes the globe and its people into the mix as well instead of only financial ratios. I also felt this urge for finding a purpose to what I’m working towards, and a way to impact the future via finance. I took a needed break, and after the break I was ready to move my career towards the direction of sustainability and add these non-financial, softer, values into the mix. My goal has ever since been to bring more equality to this world, through finance. 

 

Describe sustainable investing in your own words. 

The field of sustainable investing really started from simply taking out companies from the portfolios that were not aligned with the investor’s values – for example tobacco or fossil-fuel companies. The industry has evolved a lot since, and for example, sustainable investing in general can be used to manage and to look at risk factors. This could be for example: 

  1. Operational risk, with the risk of strikes at your business when not taking care of the health of your employees or having your company in a place that could be affected directly by climate change.
  2. Reputational risk, which relates to the massive negative effect of a scandal such as having child labor in your workforce could have. These days this is reflected directly through people's values. More and more people are aware and want to be aware of what is going on behind the closed doors of companies and demand transparency on all fronts of the company. This puts pressure on companies to be more open. Points to social media with this one, and good on you conscious beings for wanting to know and hear more from the brands you consume!

In sustainable investing we are aiming to impact the world positively. The main two sustainable investing sides and terms you may come across when you familiarize yourself with the sector are:

1. Environmental, social and governance (ESG) investing: which refers to the three central pillars in measuring the sustainability and ethical impact of an investment in a company or business. ESG has been around already for more than 20 years and many funds already exist – ask your bank about them!

 

2. Impact investing: which is about more than gaining money and intentionally looking for a positive measurable impact as well. It has grown rapidly over the last 10 years and will keep doing so in the future offering more options for everyone to take part in these exciting innovations. For example, by investing in a renewable energy company bringing access to electricity into places that didn’t have it before, and to other projects that increase the quality of life and standard of living all around the world creating more opportunities for growth. You should have a look at one of the links related to the Sustainable Development Goals to see other potential ways to provide impact through your actions and investments.

 

Why should we invest sustainably?

Sustainable investing is becoming more and more known and is entering the mainstream. Choosing to be conscious will not only show your respect to the earth but you can also gain wealth out of it. Finland has shown its leadership here, for example with its efforts towards creating a more circular economy! This will not only create earth supporting actions but will also save money, which will result in gains for the conscious investor aka you.

 

How could someone new to this kind of investing (or investing in general), start investing their money this way?

  1. First start to pay attention where your money flows. What you are buying and how are these companies and products influencing to the world? Through your everyday actions, you can make a huge impact. So choosing to consume from sustainable companies is key. Their actions could be anywhere from being involved in creating a circular economy, putting effort in their social responsibility, caring for the earth through e.g. using organic materials that are harvested with care.
  2. Also a good starting point is for you to check your retirement funds. An increasing number of countries give you the opportunity to have a say when it comes to the investments your retirement fund is involved in. So to choose companies that are aligned with your values, could be something for you to consider. I said majority of the countries because Finland is not one of them right now. I would say that the pension funds are already taking sustainability into account and there is definitely great awareness in Finland, so it's not the biggest deal that we currently aren't involved with the active investing process of the retirement fund. But there's always room for growth. Maybe in the future Finland will take action like our neighbours in Sweden, and give people the choice to decide at least a part of their retirement funds more directly themselves. 
  3. The last investing tip for beginner investors is to take a closer look on the bank selection. Look at banks that are making an effort to be conscious and spread awareness on this topic. If your current bank isn't one them, it could be smart to switch to a more conscious bank and use their services for your first investments. So check out your banks awareness state, with your careful conscious eye, and do some investigation. 

 

Banks in Finland: 

Ålandsbanken+ their MasterCard is totally plastic free, made out of corn! 

Nordea

OP

 

For someone who would love to dig deeper, what’s your tips for them to expand their knowledge? Books, videos, websites etc. 

Quick reads:

Make money and do good

Sustainability increases investor-value

Eu parliament supports sustainable finances

Websites:

What world are you investing in?

Finsif

United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals

Watch: 

Global goals, to fill this earth with more love

Deep dive: 

Doughnut economics

 

Thank you for using your energy to expand your knowledge and <3