Sustainable Investing and How to “Do Better”
How do you turn your passion and work experience into a profession that you love? Those new to the profession might assume that becoming a financial planner is always our end goal, the only career path we can take. Our guest on the latest episode of YAFPNW disproves that.
Sonya Dreizler is a Certified Financial Planner®, financial services consultant, author, and impact investing speaker. In our latest episode of YAFPNW, Sonya discusses how she got into sustainable and impact investing, what they mean, and what inspired her Do Better series in the wake of the #MeToo movement.
How Sonya entered the profession
You could say that financial planning and socially responsible investing (SRI) runs in Sonya’s blood. Her father was one of the first financial planners to pair planning with SRI. That’s how Sonya was first introduced to the profession, though her first foray into a career didn’t begin until the post dotcom bust era.
After working as an executive assistant for an independent broker dealer and RIA, Sonya learned quickly on the job, moving onward and upward to Chief Operating Officer. Eventually, she became the CEO. On her way to CEO, Sonya tried her hand at financial planning and advising.
“I was okay at it. I just didn’t really enjoy it,” said Sonya. “I really enjoyed working inside the business...helping financial advisors and financial services companies was a much better fit for my skills than serving individual clients.”
Perhaps that’s how Sonya found and developed her niche in sustainable investing and impacting investing
ESG and SRI: what sustainable investing means
ESG investing, or environmental, social, and governance investing, is a type of business data that helps investment managers create portfolios that are aligned with a particular set of values. SRI, on the other hand, is a type of investing that expresses values: ethical, moral, or religious standpoints.
Sustainable investing is kind of a general catchall term, “a bit of a mixed bag” as Sonya put it, and often used interchangeably with impact investing. One key takeaway to remember: impact investing is investing in companies with the intention to do good. And yes, the majority of investors are interested in at least learning about sustainable investing options, and possibly very interested in actually doing it.
However, it’s up to advisors to give their clients those sustainable investment options and educate them on what they mean.
“You would not expect most clients to come in and ask for say a 10% allocation to emerging markets, right?” said Sonya. “It's really important for advisors to be educated and understand the space so that they can educate their clients as well. Partly so that another advisor doesn't do that first.”
The importance of sharing stories
Along with a lifelong passion for impact investing, Sonya is also passionate about working towards inclusiveness in financial services. Her Do Better Series is a collection of real stories from real women about their experiences with sexual harassment and gender discrimination. Why stories?
“The closest we can get to experiences without experiencing them is stories, hearing about other people's experiences, right?” said Sonya. “I thought how can I share that insight with men, so that they'll be more aware and understanding and be able to be better, more active allies?”
That’s how Do Better began. Sonya put the call out for stories and got 40 stories in the span of a day. Stories about sexual harassment, discrimination, physical assault, pay discrimination, and so on. A common thread in these stories, sadly, was how women reported these incidents to HR or managers that were not receptive, or simply didn’t listen.
Before we jump into action and try to fix these issues, Sonya explained that simply listening is an important step that often gets overlooked. They’re uncomfortable and can be hard to read, but in reality, they aren’t just “stories.” They’re experiences that someone has lived through. If it’s hard to read, imagine what it was like living through it.
“I really wanted men to just sit with the stories and read them, respect the stories, listen to women, and not jump to solutions,” said Sonya. “Because we can't find appropriate solutions until we understand the problem and until we're listening well to the people that it's impacted the most.”
Sonya had even more to share about Do Better and sustainable investing in this episode. Don’t miss out, and tune in to the full episode from this week
What You’ll Learn:
- Sonya’s path from executive assistant to CEO
- What ESG stands for
- What SRI means
- Are clients asking for sustainable investing options?
- What inspired Sonya’s Do Better Series
- Themes in the Do Better stories
- The importance of listening (and not jumping to solutions)
- Shutting down inappropriate behavior professionally
In this episode of YAFPNW, Hannah Moore, CFP®, and Sonya Dreizler, CFP®, discuss:
- “Why I bid a bittersweet goodbye to my CFP designation” in Financial Planning Magazine
- Sustainable Signals, the 2019 study of investor interest by Morgan Stanley
- Indexing & Impact Interviews
- Jon Hale’s pieces on sustainability research for Morningstar
- Sonya’s Do Better Series
- The 2050 Trailblazers podcast
- So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo