Tell us about your background:
I spent nearly two decades focusing on personal finance and building technology solutions. In the process, I saw technology’s potential to bring better access and more choices to people. That’s why I founded Owlinvestor.com to offer these optionalities to individuals for investing in sustainability.
Like many of you, sustainability is something that is top of mind. As consumers, we “vote with our wallets” by buying products that we identify with. I want to do the same with my investments to support companies and business practices that are misson-aligned with my beliefs. I started to look into ESG (Environment, Social and Governance) investing as a way to “vote with my investments.”
What I found was that for ESG investing, the available options today are not satisfactory, whether it’s investing in an ESG-themed ETF (Exchange-Traded Funds) or working with an investment advisor with an ESG focus. And there are a couple of reasons. One, there is no standard or clear methodology to judge a business’s ESG performance. Two, there is no simple way to customize investment criteria according to each investor’s ESG priorities.
Owlinvestor.com is the place where you can see data on a company’s ESG performance based on your criteria and assess whether an investment is a good choice for your portfolio.
What is one action item that people can take away from this conversation?
For anyone interested in ESG investing, a quick takeaway is to start paying attention to business practices of different companies to identify those that are mission-aligned with your values.
Where do you see your industry going in ten years?
In the next ten years, I foresee that ESG will be a predominant theme in investing. Today over $165 billion is invested in more than 597 ESG-focused ETFs. In 2020 alone, over $60 billion flooded into this sector. This was double the fund flow into ESG in 2019 and over 6 times more than the amount invested in non-ESG products in 2016.
We are just beginning to see the massive $30 trillion generational wealth transfer from baby boomers to their millennial children. And Millennial as a group is known to be highly focused on sustainability, both environmentally and socially. Based on these trends, it’s apparent that not only is sustainability-focused investing here to stay, it is a tidal wave not to be overlooked.
What are the most important takeaways about sustainability would you like to share?
- Lack of consistent and transparent ESGs standards means passive investing in ESG is not an effective mechanism to support businesses you find to be mission-aligned.
- Sustainability needs to be broadly defined, yet its execution in an investment strategy must be individuated and curated.
- ESG investing challenges the long-held views that social and environmental issues should be addressed only by philanthropic donations, and that market investments should focus exclusively on achieving financial returns.