Community capital, coming to a town near you

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By Angela Barbash, Principal

Last year, nine people representing themselves or organizations from east to west and in between too, gathered in a conference room in Portland, Oregon to entertain an appeal to organize from one of the nine. The argument was that we’re all doing great work, but we’re fragmented, we’re not organized, and no one else seems to be stepping up to propel the movement toward coordinated progress.

The one of the nine who had the foresight to pull us together was Amy Pearl (the hub-maker). The other eight were yours truly (the financial planner), Michael Shuman (the local economy economist), Amy Cortese (the journalist turned author), John Katovich (the deal structure attorney), Christina Oatfield (the sustainable economies attorney), Arno Hesse (the tech strategist), Chris Miller (the economic developer), and Marco Vengelisti (the recovering institutional investor).

We’re both an unlikely bunch and a likely bunch from a diverse background, but all sharing a geeky optimistic love of place-based capital models and access to wealth for all. Sitting around that table a year ago, we made a pact, a coalition – the National Coalition for Community Capital (NC3). We declared this movement to be official, as evidenced by the state by state domino effect of intrastate securities exemptions, for instance (in our home state of Michigan, this is called the MILE Act). In 2013 it was 4 states. Today it’s 35. The momentum has surprised even us.

Fast forward to today – well, to be exact, yesterday – where this picture was taken. On the top floor of the Hogan Lovells law firm offices in D.C., looking out at the Washington Monument obscured by a misty drizzle, we brought the case for the importance of investment by individual people in their own communities to the most powerful minds we could corral in a room. It was our first attempt, and based on our success it would seem it will not be our last.

Why is this important to you? Well, it depends on who you are. In our ideal future-land, it means this:

If you’re an investor, this will result in better education, more informed advisors, and tools for due diligence.

If you’re an entrepreneur, it will mean that when you talk to your SBDC consultant about raising capital from your local community they will be able to have a nuanced discussion with you about all of your options.

If you’re an economic developer, it means that you can start to imagine projects where the funding streams are both public and private.

If you’re an academic, it means quality data and metrics that you can bring into the classroom.

If you’re a city council member or a business consultant or a marketing agency or an attorney, or any other player in the marketplace, it means that you will have the tools you need to understand these new mechanisms for investment and what they mean for your work in the world.

I’m learning that organizing a movement is arduous and a bit like herding cats in the early days. Luckily, we’re not afraid of the task at hand. We have great talent in this ecosystem and I have no doubt we will accomplish what we have set out to do – to reshape the American economy so that it includes everyone and has a triple bottom line of emphasis on people, place, and profits.

Lastly – fun fact for our clients specifically, by Revalue being on the front lines of the most up to date information and tools for local impact investors, you will directly benefit first. Sounds like a great reason to refer us to others! 😉

Make it a great day —

P.S. Want to join the movement? Attend the 2017 ComCap conference in Monterey, CA September 10-13th!

What if investors evolve faster than their financial advisors?

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Last week our friends over at Locavesting.com published an article I had written earlier this year after attending the ComCap Conference in Portland, Oregon. In the article I reflected on how it seems the financial advising industry was still as reluctant as ever to get on board with investing locally, even though 35 states have enacted rules to streamline local investment. I gave some advice to our industry colleagues about how they could support their clients interested in shifting capital to their own community, either through arms-length counsel or through direct leadership.

I closed the article with a word of warning that while baby boomers are just now coming around to this movement, millennials were practically born with the impetus to make the world a better place with everything they do and if advisors don’t adapt they may find themselves without the next generation’s business as a consequence.

We’re entering a new phase of societal stewardship where no longer are our activities as consumers, investors, and producers separated. The lines are blurring. Evidence is everywhere – from today’s workers looking for meaning in their work, not just money, to consumers voting with their dollars.

Imagine a world where you take your ‘Big 3 Ts’ (time, talent, and treasure) with a 360 degree view of your own consciousness as a consumer, investor, and producer and you make decisions from that perspective. Now think about the last conversation you may have had with your financial advisor. How much of your 360 degree Big 3 T view was discussed at that meeting? If you’re with the 90% of advisors who aren’t even SRI or impact focused, let alone ‘whole conscious person’ focused, you may be feeling a bit deflated at this point.

So what if the financial services industry, and the regulators who police them, don’t evolve fast enough to meet the needs of this growing conscious marketplace? What might the world look like then?

Maybe people will start creating neighborhood investment clubs.

Maybe advisors will leave the industry and become private sector non-regulated investors themselves.

Maybe charitable institutions will start recruiting those in their donor base who are also active dollar voters to join their board to diversify the financial perspective beyond the one financial advising firm they’ve contracted for years (and who regularly tells them investing for local impact is an outrageously ridiculous idea).

Or maybe the robo-advisors will take over the world. (Let’s hope not… we’ve all seen Terminator by now..).

I don’t know what the world will look like in 10 or 30 years. I only know that those of us at Revalue have adopted this 360 degree whole person conscious view, and that’s led each of us to do the work we do here with clients who are also on this path. If you’re disillusioned with your advisor, call us. And if you’re a disillusioned advisor looking for a better way, you can call us too.

Onward and upward friends.