The power of philanthropy, nonprofits and government have been used in the past to drive social change. While these resources have made significant strides, they may not be enough to solve some of the world’s toughest problems. The ever-growing impact investing movement - innovative for-profit enterprises that generate financial returns while seeking to have positive social consequences - has the potential to steer new resources and new thinking to organizations that are driving social change. In other words, business, entrepreneurs and the power of markets have the opportunity to drastically increase the talent and resources available to solve critical problems.
I have always believed that the private sector can be a force for good, and believe that impact investing and social entrepreneurship provides a significant opportunity to bring the innovation, incentives and resources from the business sector to the social sector.
Since launching Alexis Advisors, LLC in 2013, my vision has included figuring out a way to have a positive impact on our community, outside of the conventional realm of just providing financial planning and investment management services.
In an industry that is often filled with “noise” and rife with lack of transparency, I have consistently focused on the question, "How can I use my business as a force for good? How can I use my business to advocate for the individual investor and small business owner? How can I increase transparency? increase clarity?...so investors are more informed consumers of financial services and products?"
Since starting the firm, I have done this in a few of ways:
- Firm Name The firm is not named after me, but named to highlight the firm’s mission. Alexis is Greek for “helper, defender and advocate". I see myself not just as a financial advisor, but as an advocate for working professionals, their families and local, small businesses - who are often at the mercy of being sold financial products, rather than offered unbiased advice.
- Firm Structure I structured the firm as a fee-only Registered Investment Advisor, not as a broker. As a result, the firm is governed by fiduciary requirements, not just suitability requirements. As a financial fiduciary, the firm is held to a very high standard, and is legally required to put our clients’ interests before our own.
- Education & Advocacy Many financial advisors provide financial education on investment options, the stock market and retirement planning. I, of course, provide these services. However, the firm's structure enables me to provide consumers insights on some of the potential conflicts of interest in the industry, as well as on questions to consider when purchasing financial products.
- Be Intentional, Be Informed From the beginning, the company's first core tenet has been “be intentional about your life choices, and informed about your money.” As a long-time meditator and yoga practitioner, I believe that in most cases, life choices should come before money choices. However, I often see individuals doing the opposite - putting money before life choices. There are certainly times when this necessary, but in an effort to raise awareness and support individuals on this path of "being intentional and informed," Alexis Advisors gives a portion of its net profits to The Chrysalis Institute and to Junior Achievement of Central Virginia. These organizations align well with this core tenet, with Chrysalis providing tools and resources to support individuals in being more intentional, and Junior Achievement providing excellent resources to support financial literacy for children.
I certainly have more to do to support Alexis' overarching mission of having a positive impact on those in our community. To that end, I have begun the process of applying to become a Certified B Corporation.
Certified B Corporations are leading a global movement to redefine what business success means – that is, rather than just using private business to make money, using business as a force for good - to effect change in our community. To become a Certified B Corp, a company must meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency. By voluntarily meeting higher standards of transparency, accountability, and performance, Certified B Corps are distinguishing themselves by offering a positive vision of a better way to do business. By taking this step, Alexis Advisors will measure what matters - have metrics in place to help it meet social impact goals, and support the broader impact investing ecosystem.
Today, there is a growing community of more than 1,000 Certified B Corps (18 in Richmond, VA) from 33 countries and over 60 industries working together toward one unifying goal: to redefine success in business, encouraging companies to compete not just to be the best in the world, but to be the best for the world.
Impact investing and social enterprises illustrates that it’s possible to build businesses that provide both social and financial returns – using business and the private sector to support the social sector or consumer-focused initiatives.
Want to learn more? Join the conversation.
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