Capitalism can save the planet - Goodments

By David Tuckwell on Friday 7 July 2017

Savings and Investment

Aussie robo-advisor pairs investors with stocks that match their values

Meet Goodments, the robo-advisor trying to bring environmentalism to capitalism -- or is it the other way around?

For most environmentalists, corporations and the capitalism they ride in on are the problem our planet faces.

But for Australian robo-advisor Goodments, they are the solution.

“Corporations are more powerful than governments — we fundamentally believe that,” said Goodments CEO Tom Culver in conversation with Robo Advice News.

“There’s some pretty fascinating stats on corporations – they are intercontinental, which gives them reach and power that governments don’t have.

“These big businesses often account for more output and activity than the entire economies of some countries. And their employment influence is huge too.”

Goodments runs a matching app, that is similar in some respects to Tinder or Netflix. The app pairs investors with stocks that align with their social values, politics and investment interests. It also provides financial information so that investors can make sound decisions.

Unlike typical robo-advisors, Goodments does not put people in funds and does not take management fees. Instead, the company profits from subscriptions.

Goodments is still in beta testing stage, but it has picked up interest from a wide range of demographics. Yes, there are young people looking to invest in environmentally friendly businesses, but there is also a lot of interest from retirees.

Although many investors come to Goodments hoping to find environmental investment options, others are purely in it for the money.

“There is definitely a cohort of customers who are looking at ESG purely as a performance tool,” Mr Culver said.

But using ESG as a performance tool, Mr Culver emphasises makes sense, because ESG-conscious companies are often the most successful.

“Some companies which have traditionally been awful environmentally are now becoming thought leaders in the area.

“Sure, it’s partly a greenwashing exercise but it’s also about profit. Businesses realise that if they act sustainably they can make money.”

Asked about politics, Mr Culver said that his company was politically unaffiliated.

“We wouldn’t want to align ourselves to a political movement. As a business, we’re not politically aligned. We’re not Greenpeace or Sea Shepherd.

“I guess we’d describe ourselves as conscious capitalists… People want to make money, but – much like what we’re seeing in consumerism – people want to limit the negative impact on the world around them that they cause by investing.”

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