For most people, the last thing that comes to mind when thinking about environmental protection is the world of Wall Street and investments. However, Balanced Rock Investment Advisors, an organization attending the Sustainable Living Festival on May 16, proves that building a personal compost system or planting a home garden aren’t the only ways to be sustainable; investing with the environment in mind is equally as important.
Balanced Rock Investment Advisors is a fee-only advisory company, meaning that they advise people on where to invest without any third party interference. Dan Flannery of Balanced Rock Investment Advisors described in saying that they are advisors only paid by their clients. “We don’t sell products; we only provide advice,” he said, “which really aligns our interests with our clients.” The company is also fiduciary-only, which reflects the same sentiment that the advisors work purely in their clients’ best interests without third party interference, a role that most investment advisors do not have.
Flannery and his partner, Wellesley-native James Keefe, explained that Balanced Rock Investment Advisors uphold sustainability because they are “helping people plan for their future in terms of wanting a better tomorrow for our clients and their children,” according to Flannery. They see this “better tomorrow” to be financially better for their clients as well as better for the environment. To promote environmental awareness, they encourage divestment from fossil fuel-based companies and investing in sustainability practicing and green energy companies.
Furthermore, they provide information about the sustainable practices of a company without charging a premium as other advisors do. By purchasing in-depth environmental, social and governance (ESG) research on individual companies, Balanced Rock Investment Advisors builds personalized values-based portfolios for their clients. They manage portfolios and provide on-going financial planning advice for 0.75% of assets under management annually. Keefe strongly emphasized that “people shouldn’t have to pay a premium to invest sustainably.”
Balanced Rock Investment Advisors also emphasizes the importance of personalized portfolios for their clients. “We provide not just financial research but also information to help people build a portfolio thats consistent with their values and sustainability,” said Keefe. “We work with [the clients]. If they don’t like specific company they don’t have to invest in it. Their values are the guiding principle for how they invest.”
At the Sustainable Living Festival, Balanced Rock Investment Advisors will have a booth as well as provide a presentation about sustainable investing at 2pm. At their booth they will provide information about their own services and investing with the environment in mind. In addition, they share their booth with long-time partner Kids Art Express, an organization that provides art education to children who would not have access to art classes otherwise. Kids Art Express has been a sustainable community involvement partner of Balanced Rock Investment Advisors for a number of years, and when they learned the Sustainable Living Fest was interested in incorporating more kids’ art events “a lightbulb went off,” as Keefe described, and the advisory company invited them to join in. At the event, Kids Art Express plans to do an art project using recycled materials.
Sponsoring up to 10 farmers’ markets (including Wellesley’s own that will begin in May), Balanced Rock Investment Advisors strongly believes in getting involved in community events, as part of what they call their sustainable community involvement. “We like to support local community events,” said Flannery. “It’s good for business, and one thing we find at farmers markets [and events such as the Sustainable Living Festival] is that people slow down and are conscious about what they buy. They think about where their food is coming from, who the farmer is, where it was grown. That same attitude of consciousness about eating is important for investing. To be conscious about investing in a personalized value portfolio is same thing.”
(Matthew Hornung and Olivia Gieger)