Peter Mortifee, a former physician who runs the Somerset Foundation in Vancouver, is on a quest to align his investment choices with his, and his family’s, personal values—environmental sustainability, social justice and strong corporate governance.
He’s working with John Nicola of Nicola Wealth Management to reach this admittedly difficult objective, adding that when their relationship began 15 years ago, these issues weren’t on the popular radar.
“Our foundation is spending money trying to ameliorate a lot of environmental issues—forestry, marine issues—so we can’t be holding shares in forestry companies that are responsible for huge clear cuts. That’s just mismanagement of our assets.
“But, let’s say you’re running an investment pool and your team can evaluate on technical and qualitative levels. You add the [environmental, social and governance] ESG piece to that. If we want to be in consumer products, you can start with six companies and whittle it down to four, but three shine. Those are the ones you buy.
“Further, we ask, ‘Who are the people behind the wealth management company?’ If they don’t care how they make money, there’s a disconnect. There are many firms that we’d rather not be associated with because there’s a cutthroat, valueless vibe. If we see that, we’re gone.”
“I won’t invest in a cigarette company and don’t give me anything that relates to that,” she says. “I don’t want to be part of the day-to-day, but I need to know that if I have a philosophy, the advisor will listen to what I’m saying.”