I have been a sustainable investor for almost 15 years. I will share in this blog series my sustainable investing journey with aim to show that ethical investing can be for everyone. This is my first post in the series “Sustainable investing for the everyday investor”.
“Dear Clif Bar, how can I buy shares in your company?” My first attempt at sustainable investing now makes me smile. I was in my early 20s and getting by in New York City on an entry-level salary. I was willing to scrimp and save so that I could begin investing. I knew that I wanted to make profit specifically through investing in companies doing good in the world.
Clif Bar was one of the first large companies that I saw that met my criteria. I didn’t have any investment knowledge at the time, which is clear once you know that Clif Bar is a privately held company i.e. there are no publicly traded shares. Thankfully, the Clif Bar customer service representative who replied to my email didn’t laugh at me but instead helped me along my path to understanding financial markets by explaining why I couldn’t buy shares in Clif Bar.
With my newfound knowledge, I researched sustainable publicly traded companies. With $2,000 in hand, I set up an appointment with the financial advisor at Fidelity that I had access to because they managed my 401(k). The advisor was bemused by drive to do sustainable investing, as a non-wealthy person, but he explained to me how I could buy shares through Fidelity’s online platform. Using Fidelity’s online brokerage platform, I did my research, purchased shares, created my first sustainable investing portfolio.