Cruelty Free Money

Keep your money cruelty free..

Can’t get enough of a good thing

Just back from a wonderful trip to Australia where I attended the Melbourne and Sydney Vegan Festivals, had lots of meetings concerning Cruelty Free Super and caught up with our lovely Aussie friends.

Unfortunately, my schedule didn’t allow me to get to the excellent (I’ve heard) festivals in Canberra, Brisbane and Adelaide – there’s so much choice in Australia nowadays.

Sue & Lee at World Vegan Day, Melbourne

Sue & Lee at World Vegan Day, Melbourne

World Vegan Day in Melbourne was, as always, a crushed, noisy, frantic and a perfectly brilliant day.  There were thousands and thousands of people at the event, slowly grazing from stall to stall and everyone, and I mean everyone, had a smile on their face.

The quality of the food available was exceptional and whilst I did my best to try something from all the stalls I just couldn’t physically do it.  So much choice, so much variety and so many different tastes.

To some extent it is always great to see faces you recognize at these events but it is a testament to the phenomenal growth in veganism that even for someone who just clocked up their 7th World Vegan Day most stall holders and visitors were new to me.  That’s great because I don’t want to reach the point where it is the same stall holders and same visitors going year after year – we need more and more people to discover the vegan lifestyle and to come to events like WVD and to get excited about all the positives associated with their new lifestyle choice.

Sue & Lee at World Vegan Day, Melbourne

Sue & Lee at World Vegan Day, Melbourne

The Sydney Cruelty Free Festival was one of the best ever I have been to which not only made the day fly by but it must be lovely for the organisers to see all their hard work paying off – thanks to Lara and her team for a great day.

It is good to see Cruelty Free Super pass its 6th birthday and the figures show that the number of people joining is running at 4X the rate compared to previous years.  It shows that the holistic vegan lifestyle, when it incorporates choice of financial product too, is just as popular as the other, often easier, changes to lifestyle.  As more people recognize that their financial choices can avoid animal exploitation, real change in financial markets will come.  In the same way as the fossil free movement is impacting within the biggest financial institutions around the world, it won’t be long before animal welfare issues are taken seriously and changes are made to the way investment companies choose the companies in which they invest.   Exposure to meat and dairy production is going to be just as unacceptable and unjustifiable as investment in fossil fuel businesses.

Save

Posted in Animals, Cruelty Free Money - general, Our Planet, SUPERFUNDS (Australia) | Leave a comment

Young Super Punks and Glass Towers

Back in 2009 when Cruelty Free Super was first conceived, I hardly thought that there would be enough of the broken mould left for other people to use to produce their own boutique Superfunds.  I thought I might be breaking the mould with the way Cruelty Free Super was structured, but until the fund was launched I hadn’t appreciated just how innovative it was.

On 10/10/10 (the launch date for Cruelty Free Super) it was unheard of for a Superfund to be set up from scratch, to target a very specific part of the population, to have an investment strategy that met the needs of the target group and to only use social media as the promotion and marketing outlet.  Before this, Superfunds were offered by huge financial companies operating from glass towers in the CBD, pushing products designed by actuaries and marketing folk who were never likely to meet the end customer.  Producing expensive TV adverts shouting about their fantastic Superfund was about as far as ‘engaging the customer’ ever went.

For Cruelty Free Super, the starting point was the customer, not the normal financial services product.  If Cruelty Free Super didn’t produce what the customer wanted then it had no right to exist.  So, having established that vegetarians, vegans and those concerned with animal welfare had no Superfund that met their values, the first job was to set out the ethical criteria.  By default, the majority of people who are active in the animal welfare arena tend to be younger so normal advertising wasn’t going to work.  Cruelty Free Super had to use a ‘new’ way of getting to people and the demographic dictated that using social media was the way forward. Stage 2 was to create a regulated Superannuation product that people could rely on and trust.  Thankfully, we found some great partners to help us achieve this.

It took a few years before the industry started to notice what Cruelty Free Super was doing and then all of the companies rushed to social media to engage with their members.  The problem is that they used social media to just shout the same old message in the same old way.  There was nothing in their digital messages about the needs of members, no attempt to find out what members (new and prospective) might actually want, just same old, same old.  All the time Cruelty Free Super continued to demonstrate that a genuine member-focussed financial product could inspire member advocates and loyalty.

Since 2010 there have been many campaigns aimed at trying to get more people engaged with their Super, not just drop into the standard employer default fund, and much of this was aimed at getting women more engaged.  Hmmm, not sure that shouting about financial returns (they are important of course) and using happy smiley actors in the advertising is the way to engage women. At Cruelty Free Super we didn’t set up to engage with one age group, sex etc, we just set out to raise awareness about the cruelty supported by the finance industry and to offer a way of investing for retirement without investing in cruelty.  This, in itself, created a growing interest in people engaging with their Super and, I am really pleased to say, around 70% of our members are women and most have become engaged with Super for the first time.  Result!

We didn’t spend hundreds of glass-tower hours and hundreds of thousands of TV dollars trying to convince people to buy yet another financial product.  Instead, we simply created a product for a particular group, talked to them about why they should link their personal values to how their Super is invested and, surprise surprise, the engagement began and people started to move their Super to Cruelty Free Super.

It is quite gratifying to see other ‘young punks’ of the Super world entering the market and repeating many of the ground breaking ideas established by Cruelty Free Super.  We wish Good Super, Future Super and Spaceship success in their own attempts to provide a Superannuation product for their target members so we can all chip away at the glass towers.

This post was inspired by the following article: http://www.smh.com.au/money/investing/techfocused-super-fund-called-spaceship-to-target-millennials-20160913-grfay9.html

Posted in Animals, Cruelty Free Money - general, Our Planet, SUPERFUNDS (Australia) | Leave a comment

I was only following orders!

bomb 2

In the world of investment, the generally accepted view is that the decisions made concerning buying and selling shares is done in a moral vacuum. Well, that’s what investment managers want to believe but I am not so sure that this is the case.  In fact, I would like to argue that fund managers can’t get away from the guilt they carry.

Now, I appreciate that my argument requires a bit of lateral thinking. However, it is based on some basic investment principles and the principles of agent/principle.  I’ll start by summarising some basic principles of investment:

  • Individuals invest in a fund, handing their money over to an investment company
  • Investment company appoints a fund manager to run the fund on behalf of those who are investing in the fund.
  • The investment company analysis what companies do, how they operate and whether they look like a good investment
  • Investment manager, on behalf of the customers, chooses to buy shares with the money that is invested.

The key here is that the fund manager KNOWS what companies do and makes a conscious decision to investment money in these companies. It is the fund manager who, on behalf of the individual investors, decides that it is absolutely acceptable to support and benefit from:

  • Child labour
  • Exploitation of women
  • Exploitation of animals
  • Destruction of our environment
  • Exploitation of workers

Need I go on? As far as I am concerned, either fund managers are just buying any old companies without knowing anything about them OR the managers are well aware of what the companies are doing and give these activities their full support and blessing. In other words, fund managers are agreeing with child exploitation, exploitation of women etc etc. Do you want this sort of person looking after your money?

If you have chosen to lead a cruelty free lifestyle, why invest your money with people who don’t share your values? You wouldn’t let someone control what you eat and force you to consume things you don’t agree with, so why hand over your money to someone to investment in a menu of terrible things?

Posted in Animals, Cruelty Free Money - general, Our Planet, Pensions (UK), People, SUPERFUNDS (Australia) | Leave a comment

Copyright © 2012 Cruelty Free Money All rights resrved.