Today, we honor a new type of financial industry- one whose mission is to aligns people's earnings with their values, one that doesn't skimp on making sure the future is a livable one, and literally invests in social and sustainable structures. Leading the way in this new "finance" is Abacus Wealth Partners, our next B Corp Pioneer for Campaign for New B's.
We interviewed long time financial advisor, Greg Aloia, who came from the conventional financial industry where sales is what drove their profits to one of the Founding B Corps.
Read on for more details!
What makes Abacus different from conventional financial firms?
Abacus provides financial planning and wealth management services to individuals and business owners, and wealth management services to endowments and foundations. But that description fits many financial services firms.
What sets us apart is that we work with our clients to create sustainability around their personal finances. This means helping clients, regardless of income or net worth, create structure for their finances, make the right money decisions and avoid money mistakes. By achieving this personal financial sustainability, clients, we believe, then have a greater opportunity to leverage their money toward more social investing, more charitable giving, and more generosity around their money.
We also we help people connect their values to their money, and create meaning around their money. We also try to encourage clients’ generosity around their money. As a firm, we represent our values by offering pro bono planning services to individuals
Another distinction is that we very committed to sustainable, or what we call impact, investing. As an example, we helped a large mutual fund company on the West Coast launch two impact funds – a U.S. stock fund and an international stock fund. These funds use an environmental scoring system in selecting stock for the funds.
Additionally, we have created 2 private equity impact funds. These two funds, the Abacus Sustainable Fund and the Abacus Impact Fund, invest in areas that have a positive social and sustainable impact, such as energy efficiency, clean energy, microcredit finance, and health and wellness.
Abacus is also about to launch a fossil fuel-free model portfolio. This a model portfolio that is low-cost, well diversified, and will provide both financial and environmental returns.
How long have you been there?
14 years as of August 1.
Congratulations, that's incredible! So, what drew you to Abacus?
It was a few things. I was working for a financial services organization where the revenue was driven by sales and it made me uncomfortable. I wanted to be in an environment that was completely objective. Abacus was, and is, a “fee only” firm. We accept no commissions or fees from any financial organizations that we work with, so we provide advice that is completely in the clients’ best interest.
The level of expertise at the firm was also a draw. I would be able to collaborate with other advisors, with different expertise and experience, to help clients.
Finally, Abacus focused not only technical, financial issues, but also on helping clients identify heart-felt life goals. This, to me, was very unique in the industry.
Would you say you were pretty aware and responsible before you joined Abacus?
I had very little exposure to impact and sustainable investing prior to joining Abacus. It's only been through my association with this firm that I really learned more about, not only impact investing, but also the sustainable business community. And that's where B Corp comes in.
Meeting Jay, Bart and Andrew, and Abacus becoming a founding B Corp, was a real eye-opener for me. I discovered that there was an active business subculture that was committed to incorporating sustainable business practices into its business model. At around the same time, the firm was developing an interest in the impact investing space. So our growth as firm in impact investing and our development as a member of the sustainable business community happened on parallel tracks.
How has the (founding) B Corp certification helped your business?
It gives us credibility and visibility in the sustainable business community. It provides us with an opportunity to do business with like-minded business owners. It provides us with the opportunity to be a part of and provide support to a valuable movement. It allows us to brand an important value proposition of our firm.
There are other business-related benefits, such as being eligible for discounts on certain services provided by fellow B Corps.
Finally, our Santa Monica office has hosted networking events for area B Corps
How can it help other businesses in this industry?
I think that it can help them attract people that are trying to connect their values to their finances.
How would you describe B Corps in 3 words?
Community. Values-driven. Inspiration.
What do you do when you get home from a long day at the office?
I got to the gym. Have dinner with my spouse. I live in the walking-friendly town of Lambertville, NJ, so I do a lot of walking in town and on the towpath along the river.
What’s the first thing you do when you wake up?
Turn on NPR or WXPN.
You see, guys? Not everyone that deals with our money is bad- you just gotta pick the right ones! Abacus provides many options for everyday investors and is even super helpful with just basic impact investing information. Did you know that the White House is even backing impact investing?! Spend some time learning about this stuff- it's our future!
Join us next week where our industry of choice is coffee. Can anybody guess who our Pioneer could B!?