Wayfinding for Ethical Investment

Ed. Note: FS Sustainability is the official media partner of Ethical Advisers' Co-operative for Ethical Investment Week (EIW), which will be held from 25th-31st October. FS Sustainability is pleased to present this opinion piece from Rodger Spiller, founder and managing director of Money Matters.

EIW 2021 will be a journey-not just about wayfinding and ethical investment but, more importantly, into wayfinding and ethical investment. The week will feature a webinar, led by Professor Chellie Spiller and Dr Rodger Spiller. Integrating Chellie's wayfinding research and Rodger's ethical investment research, the webinar will be a journey of discovery for ethical investors.

What is 'wayfinding'?

In its simplest definition, wayfinding is about observing the natural world in order to work out your location, orient yourself towards your destination, set a course to get you there, then dynamically respond to signs as you journey. Think of the legendary sea-faring prowess of Polynesian navigators, and the rich Aboriginal tradition of exploring and guiding.

Wayfinding is as relevant for our times as it has been throughout history. By drawing upon ancient wisdom, modern wayfinders hold insights that can make a big difference for ethical investors, ethical businesses and a sustainable future. Rodger and Chellie will explain how to discover the new by pulling apart the old map, exploring new and uncharted territory, and journeying towards true wealth and wellbeing.

Purpose, principles, practices and performance measurement

As with any journey, reference points (or 'waypoints') can be used to help navigate the way forward. The webinar will use Rodger's Four P's model as these waypoints. Created in 1997 as part of his PhD, Rodger's Four Ps are purpose, principles, practices and performance measurement.

The question of 'Purpose'

Both the investor's journey - and the webinar - will begin by considering 'purpose'. The two-dimensional approach of solely 'risk and return' is being challenged by the addition of a third dimension; impact. An ethical investor's purpose is to make money and make a difference. Making this journey into three-dimensional investing requires a change in mindset. Drawing from the indigenous response to the sustainability crisis, the webinar will explore the Five Wellbeings approach of Chellie's PhD; economic, social, environmental, cultural and spiritual wellbeing. Journeying to what Māori describe as Te Ao Mārama, the world of enlightenment.

A matter of Principles

Chellie's 'Wayfinding Leadership' co-author, wayfinding captain Hoturoa Kerr, explains that, "Unless love is present in the way you operate, all this stuff is not ever going to be for a good reason - aroha must be behind all these things that you do." From an Indigenous perspective, principles or values are like stars illuminating the human pathway. Principles are also a critical guide for the ethical investment journey. Challenging Milton Friedman's rejection of social responsibility beyond profit maximisation, the case is made for an ethic of care and aroha (love). The webinar will also highlight the virtue of courage - the first virtue listed by Aristotle, and a key quality of the wayfinding ethical investor.

Practices: applying the wisdom

Practices are the actions an investor and a business take to fulfil purpose and apply principles. To be highly rated on the 'ethical' spectrum, businesses need to implement particular practices.  The practice of 'developing people' was central to Rodger and Chellie's PhD research, and is increasingly considered by global ethical investment research firms. The webinar will explore how this development can occur professionally, personally and as an investor - using insights from the world of wayfinding.

Performance: measuring what matters

In ethical investment, Performance Measurement goes well beyond conventional financial measures, to also report on 'impact'. The global funds pioneering impact reporting processes can be seen as wayfinders, paving the path towards a more ethical investment future. This future will hopefully include more reporting on deeper performance measures - such as a business's focus on leadership development.

In this journey, an expert trusted navigator is key to investors' success

An ethical adviser clarifies the journey's purpose, and the investor's principles. They create a clear and realistic plan for achieving investment goals, and establish an ethical profile along with a conventional risk profile. The plan provides a map, charting the best course and recommending a portfolio. Along the journey, performance measurement will consider both financial progress and ethical impact, and changes will be made as required.

Ethical investment advisers and their clients are wayfinders

We are transforming the finance system and financing the transformation needed for a sustainable future. Together, we aim higher-to reduce environmental, social, and financial risk, and increase financial return by creating more positive impact.

Read more: Rodger SpillerEthical Investment WeekMoney MattersChellie Spiller