3 min read
Young Investors Matter
I am a young investor. As I enter the third year of my university career, I’ve started to embrace my professional and financial life on a different level. At the end of last year after two years of working, I had earned enough money to begin considering how I wanted to invest it. Entering the world of investing can be extremely overwhelming for someone with no experience, but I was dedicated to learning how to navigate the waters to set myself up for a stronger future financially.
I had no defined direction for how I wanted to invest. What I did have, however, was a strongly defined set of values. Throughout my time in high school and university, I’ve participated in a range of volunteer activities and donated to a multitude of causes. Most of them fell under the category of reducing climate emissions, increasing social equality, and reducing poverty. This is what I knew about myself – I had a strong passion for these issues, and I was always looking for a tangible way to impact the world around me. For me, this realization was the catalyst.
With what little guidance I had gleaned from my mother, I became familiarized with the concept of impact investing. To me, it seemed like another way to contribute to the causes that I cared about while also allowing me to gather resources for my own future. The idea that I could address multiple interests at once spurred me into action and inspired me to look into how to begin my sustainable investing journey.
What does “impact” mean to each of us?
I also grew curious as to how other young people feel about the concept of investing, and if they were familiar at all with the idea of doing it sustainably – so I asked them. Kate Rochon, a student at Queen’s University in Kingston, Canada, has never invested before. When asked what would drive her to do so, she said if she saw something that had great potential to address a new or growing issue in an innovative way. An example she gave was the rise of Zoom, the video platform that has gained immense popularity over the past 6 months. In the face of the pandemic, Zoom has offered us a way to stay connected both professionally and socially. Many educators have come to depend on Zoom to deliver virtual classes and keep students connected to the classroom. For Kate, this success is indicative of a company that served a larger purpose – and in doing so, provided a way to contribute to one of the causes that matters the most to her: education. Although she felt that they were making an impact on education, we wondered if there was a way to measure this impact against other companies to make sure we are making the best decision.
Similar to Kate, I was looking to invest in a company that offered an innovative solution to a growing need. For example, Vestas Wind Systems A/S is a company that supports renewable energy by manufacturing and installing wind turbines. When looking for ways to invest in sustainable energy generation, this company stood out to me as one that would serve the future of energy and our earth in a sustainable way. My admiration for the cause translated into the motivator for me to enter into investing.
Another thing Kate mentioned is that she would be more keen to invest if she had the money to spare. Although many young people may have the drive, they may not necessarily have access to the resources necessary to even consider investing. This lack of resources is typically why the market for investors is made up of older people who have had the chance to establish themselves financially. However, it’s important not to write off students and recent graduates – as young entrepreneurs and other young professionals gain more financial expertise and greater influence, their ability to make an impact on the market grows substantially. It’s important not to overlook the chance to engage with this demographic.
How can we call more of us next-generation investors to action?
It has always been a trend that the younger generation is drawn to causes and movements that affect their futures and relate to their values. It’s very clear today that engagement in social and environmental issues are often spearheaded by young people. If we can actively engage this demographic, we could see a huge shift in how companies manage their impact on the world as they move to win over the next generation of investors.
I spent two years as a part of the Canadian Armed Forces. As I transitioned out, I began looking for other ways to make an impact on the world. This initiative has taken many different forms – shifting my attitude as a consumer and supporting businesses that align with my ideals, working to reduce my waste production by focusing on reusable products, and engaging in dialogues surrounding social and environmental causes. Sustainable investing has offered me the opportunity to deepen my involvement in the causes I care about, and I am excited to further establish myself as an impact investor.