Can the worlds of investing and sustainability go hand-in-hand? Thanks to this entrepreneurial, app-making couple, the answer is now ‘yes’.
What do you think about when you think about ‘investing’? A profit at all costs mentality? A moral and ethical minefield? Overcomplicated, impersonal systems terminology?
That might have been the case for a long time but, thanks to a brand-spanking new idea from the minds of Tom Culver and Emily Taylor – an entrepreneurial couple with an ethical mindset – the world of investing is about to get turned on its proverbial head.
Its name is Goodments, and it’s an app that will allow you to invest in businesses that do good. The lightbulb moment came when Tom, with 15 years’ worth of experience in wealth management and private banking and Emily, who’s head of strategy at advertising agency Leo Burnett, decided they weren’t seeing enough action at a government level.
“It’s become clear we can’t rely solely on governments to drive the change we want to see,” says Tom. “We believe corporations will drive it. Fifty-one per cent of the world’s largest economies are corporations and they are the ones best positioned to make a meaningful impact. Our spending behaviour tells corporations and governments what’s important to us. Investment is the next frontier, and sustainable investing is the future of investment.”
The research app, launched in 2017, allows users to let it know what they’re interested in – say animal welfare, waste reduction or community development –then it matches them up with businesses that align with their personal ethics. The app is currently for research purposes only, but the full-blown trading app will launch on September 25th.
We caught up with Tom to find out more about Goodments, and how it can help Australians put their money in a better place.
Tom, what’s the purpose of Goodments? What are you guys trying to achieve?
Our purpose is to create a more sustainable future by making it easy to invest in good business. That’s what everything we do hinges on. Because we know the next generation of investors, just like us, is looking to corporations to drive sustainable change.
At the moment, when it comes to investing their money, this generation don’t have a viable option. The current investment options are lacking in transparency: you don’t really know where your money is going, it’s too complex, is based solely on financial jargon and is not personalised to each individual. And we think all of those issues are really important to address when it comes to sustainability.
How can people use Goodments to help make their money do more good?
An important component of Goodments is about creating a personal experience. Because our research showed very early on that what is ‘sustainable’ or ‘good’ for one person is not necessarily the same for another. One person may be driven by divestment in coal and investment in renewables, whilst another might be about animal welfare or community development.
So, our user experience is built to first understand what your values are, then match you with shares that align with those values. People can use Goodments to invest, make profit and do good, on their own terms and without the current intimidation associated with investing.
How are people using Goodments? What are you finding people are being drawn towards?
Already we are seeing some really interesting trends in what people care about and what they want to avoid. Looking at July, the most popular areas that people want to support is renewable energy, then recycling and waste reduction, and then community development. When it comes to exclusions, most want to avoid tobacco, animal testing and predatory lending.
Was there anything like Goodments out there before you guys came along?
Honestly not really. It’s a market still led by the big institutions, few of whom are interested in investing in a sustainable option – not least because they themselves still invest in companies that fall into the ‘grey area’ of ethics or, at their worst, behave unethically. Just look at the Royal Commission.
Then when it comes to the disruptors, most are focused on simplicity and price. For us, these things are hygiene factors. We would be mad not to make sure the Goodments experience much simpler than investing is today – and cheaper. But where we see the real opportunity for disruption is helping people invest their money in business that align with their own values.
What advice do you have for people who might just be starting to think about the good their money can do?
For a lot of people, the important distinction here is that sustainable and responsible investing is not about giving money away, like with charity, but about making profit and doing good at the same time. This means that for a lot of new customers there is a real need to learn what investing actually is. That’s why we’ve launched our academy, which currently tackles the real basics of investing. We’ve also introduced the ability to create and manage ‘Practice Portfolios’, so you can have a go before starting for real.
Generally, it’s considered good practice for new investors to start small and keep it regular. You also need to watch out for fees. With Goodments, we help with this as our trading app – when it launches on September 25th – will have no brokerage or commissions and no minimum investment amounts. Plus, we’ll be offering fractional investing. Which means if you only want to invest $10 in Tesla – which has a current share price of $349.54 – for example, you can. It’s revolutionary for this market and completely changes the way in which people can buy shares.
What do you think the future holds for Goodments, and for the future of more sustainable investing as a whole? Are you seeing more interest in it?
We see huge potential globally for the future of sustainable investing. The Global Sustainable Investment Alliance have shown that, since 2014, there’s been an 86% year-on year growth in the space. There’s no reason for this not to continue when you consider that 90% of Australians, according to the RIAA, expect their investments to be responsible and ethical. Our hope is that sustainable investing will one day be the primary way for people to invest, and we see Goodments as the leader in the space.