A Guide to Becoming a Conscious Investor
A Guide to Becoming a Conscious Investor
Looking to align your values with your investments? In her new book, The Good Your Money Can Do, investor and entrepreneur Eva Yazhari rethinks what it means to invest and provides a step-by-step guide on how to infuse consciousness into the choices you make with your money.
A Q&A with Eva Yazhari
Impact investing is the intention to generate social or environmental return (or impact) with your investments. It involves the awareness that your money can affect society. Conscious investing takes the paradigm beyond money. It’s the idea that wealth is more than money. Conscious investing is using all of your resources in order to align with your values and having an intention that goes beyond just the financial bottom line or just buying something.
The world we live in says that investing is not for everyone—the language and structure are largely stacked against women, people of color, and micro investors. Investing should be for more than just a specific group of people. Impact and conscious investing can open up that conversation. They allow us to define wealth to include social impact and environmental impact and use our consumer choices to align with our values. Conscious investing opens up seats at the table because when we care about something, we put our time toward it. But when we feel like it’s not for us, which is what the system was intentionally designed to do, we’re not going to focus on it.
Consciousness needs to be infused into the financial industry. There’s a myth that says you can’t generate financial return and social impact at the same time, that there always has to be a trade-off. This is a mindset of scarcity. It’s a mindset of a zero-sum game. It’s a mindset that says when I win, you lose. In reality, that’s not the universal truth of how investing, money, and our resources work. There is potential for conscious investing in all your economic transactions.
The language around finance is not simple and must be learned if it’s not part of your upbringing. And it’s not easy to learn. What’s empowering about conscious investing is that you can have a conversation about investing without talking about financial return because the social or the environmental return is just as legitimate as the financial return, which opens the door to investment conversations for more people.
In The Good Our Money Can Do, I set up a framework and a mindset that are of abundance and that understand that we are all capable of winning. The book is a guide for anyone who’s looking to use their resources to align with their values. I’ve talked with so many women who say, “I was never good at finance” or “I always thought finance was not for me.” But after reading about impact investing and conscious investing, they were able to begin reclaiming their finances. It allowed them to attach or express some part of their identity, values, meaning, purpose, and family to their investments. You can vote with your dollars today.
A conscious investor is someone who is more conscious of where they’re investing and how it will have an impact. I created seven steps to becoming a conscious investor. When applying these steps, remember not to let perfection be the enemy of good. Small steps are still relevant.
Understand that no investment is neutral.
It is important to understand that money is not neutral—this is the key point. Everything we do with our money has a positive or negative impact. And what we invest in determines who holds the power.
Define your own values.
Without identifying what you believe in and what you care about, you can’t become a conscious investor because either you’ll become overwhelmed or confused or you’ll lack focus.
Know what you own.
This includes physical things that you own and your bank account. Know which bank you use and where they’re lending out your money when it’s sitting in your savings account—this money could be lent out to fund fossil fuels, for example. Understanding where all of your money is going expands your definition of becoming an investor. And understand what is in your investment portfolio. Do you resonate with the companies that you’re investing your life savings in?
Think differently about what investments are.
Investments don’t just include your investment portfolio; they also include your consumer choices, your bank spending account, and your savings account. This different mode of thinking can help empower women and any other group that has historically been told that investing is not for them.
Understand that money is just one form of wealth.
Your social networks, time, skills, and so on are also part of your wealth.
Put your money where your mouth is.
You might take a concrete step like finding an advisor or investing in a fund or a company that aligns with your values.
Find your tribe.
Find a community to support you—you cannot do this work alone. Diversity of opinion helps investors become more effective and learn from one another. The community is an important part of this work.
Eva Yazhari is a seasoned investor, a conscious entrepreneur, an author, and the general partner of Beyond Capital Ventures, an early-stage impact venture capital fund offering a diversified portfolio of early-stage purpose-driven companies in need-to-have sectors in emerging markets. Previously, Yazhari was a vice president at EnTrust Capital Inc. Her team invested over $5 billion in top hedge funds. She specialized in due diligence, underlying fund portfolio analysis, and shareholder activism.
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