The Sussexes are joining asset manager Ethic as investors & ‘impact partners’

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are seen after a visit to One World Observatory with Governor Hochul and Mayor de Blasio

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have good business instincts. We haven’t heard anything about Meghan’s investment in Clevr Blends in a while, but I’m sure that it’s probably doing very well, especially with Oprah’s endorsement. They’re working with Procter & Gamble on charity endeavors. Harry’s work with BetterUp has been brilliant, and the company’s valuation has more than doubled in less than nine months. So what’s new in SussexWorld? What is their next big project? Ethical investing.

Prince Harry and Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, are getting into the investment business. They are joining Ethic, a fintech asset manager in the fast-growing environmental, social and governance space, as “impact partners” and investors. Ethic has $1.3 billion under management and creates separately managed accounts to invest in social responsibility themes.

The couple could attract more attention to sustainable investing. Harry and Meghan can make E.S.G. investing part of pop culture in a way that, say, BlackRock’s Larry Fink can’t. “From the world I come from, you don’t talk about investing, right?” Meghan told DealBook in a joint interview with Harry. “You don’t have the luxury to invest. That sounds so fancy.”

“My husband has been saying for years, ‘Gosh, don’t you wish there was a place where if your values were aligned like this, you could put your money to that same sort of thing?’” Meghan said. They were introduced to Ethic by friends, she said.

Harry and Meghan said they hoped that their involvement would help democratize investing, making people — especially younger people — more deliberate in their choices and conscious of investing in sustainable companies. “You already have the younger generation voting with their dollars and their pounds, you know, all over the world when it comes to brands they select and choose from,” Harry said, suggesting it was a natural extension to do the same with investments.

Ethic was founded in 2015 and has tripled assets under management in the past year, Doug Scott, a founder of the company, told DealBook. Ethic runs screens on companies and sectors based on social responsibility criteria, including racial justice, climate and labor issues. Its user interface has more in common with the likes of Robinhood than traditional financial sites, and it has developed a new platform, “Sustainability for Everyone,” which scores a person’s portfolio along different dimensions.

[From The NY Times]

Hey, Billions-watchers: Ethic sounds like Taylor Mason’s work, right? On Billions, Taylor Mason has always been all about “ethical investing,” with a specific focus on investment towards environmental achievements. I mean, the Billions writers understand what’s happening in the real world, and that people with millions of dollars want more ethical, sustainable and moral choices for how and where they invest. As in, no investing in gun companies, no investments in serial polluters, no investing in companies which destabilize democracies around the world. It’s interesting.

As for Meghan and Harry… they’re basically putting their money into an ethics-driven hedge fund and they’re taking the title of “impact partners,” meaning that they’re going to use their names to bring in even more money and investors. Good for them! But Isla de Saltines will have a week-long meltdown about it.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are seen after a visit to One World Observatory with Governor Hochul and Mayor de Blasio

Photos courtesy of Backgrid.

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68 Responses to “The Sussexes are joining asset manager Ethic as investors & ‘impact partners’”

  1. Nyro says:

    Billionaire moves. Here for it.

  2. I knew the thrive era was going to be stellar, but this is something else. Looking forward to the incoming meltdown from toxic island.
    *Insert Elmo fire gif here

  3. NCWoman says:

    “no investing in companies which destabilize democracies around the world.” Also no investing in companies that destabilize the US for their own profit–hello, AT&T!! Proud of Harry and Meghan. Ethical investing is incredibly important.

  4. Amy Bee says:

    Every-time, a new project, deal or event is announced, I wonder how Harry feels about them because he lived such a restrictive life before. He got to join the Army but he had to fight to be deployed and then was forced to retire by the family. Despite the pain that has been inflicted on him for stepping down as a working royal, he has to feeling really good about what he’s been able to do since leaving and I hope he talks about that in his book.

  5. Zen says:

    The Sussexes have done what the rota cannot forgive, they have succeeded and thrived away from royal life. They have privacy, make their own choices and follow their ethical ideas to make a sustainable life for themselves. No more being forced to put on a dress and heels and pose with your new baby because….what is the reason for that? Oh right invisible contract: “You are royal therefore you must show us all aspects of your life so we can photograph and profit from it all while we mercilessly criticise you”. They are just living like anyone one else now. I’m so happy to see them happy and successful after the hell they were put thru during 2017-20.

    • Nyro says:

      Prior to knowing that W&K were part of the smear campaign against Meghan, I used to feel equally bad for the Cambridges re: the British media. Not now though. They literally get nothing but 100 percent fawning press, so if the British media tells them and their kids to jump, they’d all better say “how high, overlords? How high?!”

    • BnlurkN4ever says:

      Yes. This is where I live because for almost the entirety of the time Meghan was a working royal she was abused so mercilessly, still is, but now she has the ability to make her own rules with her husband. I don’t care if we never see Lili, or see another picture of Archie, for what she endured, I support whatever makes her and her family comfortable.

  6. Snuffles says:

    Duuuuuude! Can anyone join! I’ve literally been looking for something like this recently to invest in.

  7. S808 says:

    when do they sleep? sheesh! they have so much going on l.

    • JT says:

      And this is probably just the beginning. Those UN meetings weren’t just for the photo ops I’m betting. A part of the problem for H&M working for the royals was that “they just don’t stop.” They were always working on something and the courtiers could not keep up. It’s probably why they made up those “bullying claims” because I bet they’ve never worked as much as they did with the Sussexes.

      • Ginger says:

        This is true. That staff is used to work that consists of 5 questions in 10 years. They couldn’t handle actual work.
        I’m glad Harry and Meghan are able to do this and have an amazing staff that like to work.

      • Cece says:

        Truth! Harry had to go outside of the royal household to set up his Invictus Games. THat’s why it is professionally run and so very successful. Compare that to the fakakta they push out of KP, or even CH and BP (see: Moonbeam? or whatever Baldy’s latest half-assed “project” is called).

  8. Jan90067 says:

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    • Okay Jan90067 let’s see if this works… fingers crossed. Thank you very much for your help btw 🙌

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  9. Plums says:

    this is so of the moment. Like, when I opened my IRA and was choosing investments, the only filter I added was to weed out funds that were not socially responsible. No fossil fuels, not guns, etc. It was the most important thing to me. Meanwhile, a couple years later, my boomer bosses were reading about socially responsible investing and were utterly flabbergasted by the idea that you wouldn’t just try to make the most money when deciding where to invest. Totally different generational thinking, imo.

    • Fanciful says:

      Plums I’m a boomer and moved into ‘ethical’ investing like over 20 years ago so please don’t be ageist.

      What I like is that the ethical side is more refined now and that’s going to continue. There are poor corporate citizens in Tech I don’t invest in either. Which is a poor bank balance choice but good for my conscience. Good for them. Let the melt down begin. How long will it be before mansions and suvs are mentioned?

    • Yup, Me says:

      I agree. My company (an up and coming start up) has offered socially conscious 401k investments since they started having 401k packages.

      I love this and I’m bookmarking it for myself

    • Eurydice says:

      There has always been ethical investing – from biblical times, from the Quran, anti-smoking and drinking and gambling, anti-defense contractors, anti-apartheid, big oil companies, chemical companies, etc. – also positive investing in green energy, companies that encourage diversity, that encourage investment in underserved communities. Every era has what it considers “ethical.”

      I looked at the Ethic website – it’s a little overly precious for my taste, and the managers haven’t had as much experience as I’d like, but it seems to be geared to the generation that brings its dogs to the office – still, they’re trying to do a good thing. The problem isn’t in attracting investors, it’s finding enough investment opportunities and delivering a return that will satisfy their clients. The clients will have to quantify how much their ethical goals are worth – how much of their kids’ college fund are they willing to share with the goal of lowering a carbon footprint, that sort of thing. I hope it works out for them.

      • LaraW” says:

        Totally agree with all the points you made.

      • Lorelei says:

        Exactly what @Laraw said

      • Onomo says:

        Euridyce, it’s interesting you bring up the Koran. I know the Koran forbids usury but perhaps even interest on any loan. I find it interesting how ethics varies by society in any case.

        For me, ethical investing would mean investing in my community – local bail funds, a $15 minimum wage, getting housing for unhoused, building and maintaining community gardens and chicken coops, investing in local childcare and community mental health groups, trauma support, pairing lonely older folks and disabled folks with a family and food program, educating and raising kids to become culturally competent therapists and medical providers, protesting against any new jail construction, etc.

        I am hopeful but suspicious that super rich hedge funds/billionaires can truly be ethical (which requires acknowledging different values than their own) but hope to be proven wrong.

      • 2cents says:

        My bank invests most of my savings in sustainable projects. But sustainable investment is still a niche market. What I’m hoping for is that this partnership between H&M and Ethic will indeed make sustainable investment mainstream. I think that is the only way to tackle social problems and climate change on a global scale. I hope these Hippie Bankers are the Steve Jobs and Bill Gates of Finance.

      • Eurydice says:

        @Onomo – What is ethical is so relative – yes, the Quran forbids interest on loans and, by extension, interest bearing securities, but when the client has specific needs, the investment bankers will figure out a way to meet them. For example, There are various investment vehicles that have been constructed to look like rental income instead of interest. I share your suspicion of the super rich moguls. Mark Zuckerberg is 37, supposedly of the “generation that cares,” but however much of a philanthropist he might be, his core product has been shown to be destructive.

        @ Plums and Lorelei – I don’t want to get into the “boomers are evil” argument, but I’ll just say that financial needs, investment goals and personal priorities change as one gets older. It’s one thing to be in your 20′s and looking forward to 40 years of employment. But when one is facing retirement in a world of increased longevity and in a society that has no room for seniors to be useful, one has to hope that retirement investments will last for another 20 years. Maybe the current generation will be able to carry its ethical goals until retirement, or maybe what is considered ethical will change and the next generation will consider them as fossils who just don’t get it.

      • EllenOlenska says:

        And the other challenge comes when one of the companies in the investment pool screws up big time. I worked for a company that would have checked all those screening boxes, was featured in “ from good to great” and is now one of the most popular whipping boys of the socially conscious set when some misdeeds came to light. The research is tough to do, and doesn’t always come with huge financial returns. Eurydice is absolutely right. And my boomer butt was fully aware of socially responsible investing companies over 20 years ago. :-)

      • Mercury says:

        @Onomo I think Eurodyce means that the Quran which is an ancient book, speaks about ethical investing (islam forbids usury and interest but I believe this is a separate issue)

    • Lorelei says:

      @Plums, exactly re: the boomers. The same ones who did untold amounts of damage to the earth and don’t want to change their ways; they’re fine with leaving the mess for their children and grandchildren to deal with.

      • Lorelei says:

        @Fanciful I shouldn’t have generalized like that— you’re right, it’s not everyone in an entire generation.

      • Fanciful says:

        Lorelei, many of our friends are the most conscious people I know environmentally, diet, under consuming, limiting waste. and it’s the younger ones who talk a good game but are all Uber eats, hopping on planes, buying fast fashion which is a huge environmental issue. But sure it’s not a whole generation of them either.

      • BeanieBean says:

        Oh, hey now, wait a minute. I’m a boomer & I’ve been working in environmental preservation for all my professional life. The great WWII boom years started off the monumental environmental degradation that we are still dealing with today.

  10. sunny says:

    This is interesting. Impact investing is not a new space, it has been growing for like 20 years but with larger changes in societal values it is coming more to the forefront now. Ex. The Canadian government invested almost a billion into a social finance fund a few years back.(3-4)

    It is interesting and slightly worrying to see major hedge funds enter the space because ESG investing involves a radical shift in traditional investment approaches in not just the what but the how. For example, if you are investing in a startup or a certain space, you often are looking for an exit(how you are going to get out with money and when). When you account for a social impact dimension in your investment goals, it can mean sifting the how your investments make money and the timeline for exit. I’m not sure traditional hedge funds are the best model to take advantage of it vs investors with a more long term view/time horizon such as pension funds.

    Anyway, glad to see more shine on this subject area and I do think there is enormous potential for individuals to pressure financial institutions to look at what they include in their financial products they purchase.

    • LaraW” says:

      Agree with your point re hedge funds.

      For traditional investing, the issue I have with ethics investing is that there is no company whose business is completely ethical. So it has to be this rubric of ethics and weighing different factors. Which factors are weighted more heavily? If you don’t have a problem with animals being used in research, then pharma is on the table. But are you then going to take issue with the business model of pharma and the way they use patents to keep the prices of their meds exorbitant? Would ExxonMobil be an ethical company because despite their environmental damage, they’ve pledged to meet the Paris Agreement by 2025? Or exclude companies based on the amount of money they contribute to different SuperPACs? Companies routinely give money to both parties.

      I mean, like you said, it’s not new so I have no doubt that this has all been considered before. I just have Issues with branding(? Is that the right word?) of ethical investing. Some companies are obvious— eg not investing in defense contractors because they make missiles. But other companies straddle different lines depending on your priorities and how comfortable you are with their business practices. It feels kind of like the sliding scale of the word “organic” when products are being sold at the grocery. I guess not investing in companies that sell chickens from factory farms— but does that extend to other companies whose line of frozen dinners are made from animal products from factory farms?

      • LaraW” says:

        Also I am sleep deprived so I may reread my comment tomorrow and cringe.

      • sunny says:

        No @LaraW- you totally make sense. And yes, varying ESG frameworks and expertise is a cause for concern. I am interested in seeing the sift in individual behaviour and if it can pressure institutions to change their practices. I don’t know how ethical we can ever make capitalism but I am down for thinking about ways to cause less harm.

        Some really interesting and exciting progress lately is that we are seeing major university endowments divest from things like oil and gas. Harvard was all over the news for this and that was the result of years of pressure and movement building.

  11. Lucy says:

    I love this, I’m going to look into moving some money there. The worm will turn on Wall Street, and I’m here for it. If anyone’s interested in regenerative farming, there’s a fund for lending to people converting to that called Steward.

  12. L4frimaire says:

    This is a very interesting strategic move on their part. They are aligning their interests in a way that they will have a sustainable source of income, that will help fund their foundation and projects, so their money is working for them more than they are working for their money. I’ll have to ask our financial planner about it now and if we can invest ( a very small amount) in it. Now everyone will look into this and be interested in sustainable investment. When they were in NY, someone tweeted that they could see M&H driving investment in infrastructure in West Africa ( need to look for that tweet). Thought it was interesting then, but now it makes a lot more sense now. Meanwhile, are they still going to be talking about christenings on Salt Isle?

  13. Lizzie says:

    They are the living embodiment of the old saying ‘living well is the best revenge’.

  14. Over it says:

    I stands these two .

  15. Zebz says:

    This is some grrm a song of ice and fire (game of thrones) level schadenfreude and I am here for it! Every mistake that the brf could’ve made, they did. The entire smear campaign backfired so catastrophically that it almost makes me believe in god. This is unprecedented! Kudos to you Harry and Meghan. They will go down as legends for me!

  16. Jill says:

    This sounds great. Wish I had enough money to invest in something like that myself!

  17. Margaret says:

    People are really losing it on the Sussexes bank balance. I have never seen such envy about the self supporting duo, as they are called. They should pay more attention to the rich royal welfare recipients that are living off the the purse strings of the hard working taxpayers.
    Also don’t invest with them, enough said.

  18. Rai says:

    This is fascinating…two weeks ago, when there was talk of Meghan doing a beauty line because they used that info marketing dude’s plane, I wondered if they were actually learning how to flip the ditect marketing game into a big, fat operating model for Archiwell. Because that would be huge. This might be better.

    They could even invest in EarthShot…but I’m kinda petty though

  19. taris says:

    isla de saltines, lol.

  20. giiiiirl says:

    Success is the best revenge.

  21. Layla says:

    It’s really not surprising when you remember and learn how Meghan was a keynote d at leaker and was interviewed at the Cayman Alternative Investment Summit in 2016. But obviously and unsurprisingly, the haters are drowned too deep in their lakes of hatred to do actual research.

  22. Mina_Esq says:

    This makes me a bit nervous, you guys. Overall I’m happy that they are shining a light on ethical investing and are actually investing some of their own money into this (Twitter trolls always ask “but are they putting their own money into this?” *eyeroll*). BUT I think it becomes a bit tricky once they are impact partners. G-d forbid people lose money following their lead on this. The salty island would never let them live it down. Fingers crossed all goes well though.

    • 2cents says:

      I think Ethic will apply a low to medium riskmanagement strategy to their investments. Sustainable investment is long term. The key is to find or create enough profitable projects to bring in the good returns. H&M can use their network to make impact.

      Reality is that business ventures may fail, but risk taking is part of being a good businessman.

    • Noor says:

      Agree Mina. Why lend their names to a hedge fund. They get blamed if the fund lose money for investors attracted by the Sussexes endorsement

  23. one of the marys says:

    Talk about striking while the iron is hot, they are able to build so well on their reputations now it’s fantastic to see

  24. Chelsea says:

    I’m laughing because the Daily Fail was trying to speculate about Meghan doing skin care infomercials last week when she and Harry have been partnering with a fintech firm for months and fhey had no clue about it. I’m not surprised to see them involved in esg investing, especially after Meghan invested in Clevrblends which donates part if their profits to community work, but I’m really surprised by the way by they’ve done it.

    I thought they’d set up a vc firm or act as angel investors but this is so much smarter. They are investing and promoting a company that enables others to invest sustainably while also using the service to invest sustainably as well. So not only can they use the service to grow their money in a way that matches their values but when this inevitably leads to success for the company they will also benefit from its’ growth while being a part of expanding esg investing and they’re probably also getting something up front for being brand ambassadors. It’s a win-win-win-win.

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