Marco Vangelisti worked in high finance for 25 years before self-ejecting from that industry and dedicating his focus to providing capital to local and sustainable ventures. He is a founding member of Slow Money, as well as a founding member of the National Coalition for Community Capital.
Marco wrestled with cognitive dissonance during his years on Wall Street. Not only did he perceive many of the same risks and abuses in the financial system The Crash Course warns of, but he also noted that the capital from foundations and other ‘socially responsible’ organizations were often invested in businesses that were ecologically and/or socially destructive.
His entire portfolio now is invested at the local level or in sustainability-oriented vehicles where he has visibility into its direct impact. This kind of investing is a lot more complicated than simply buying shares off of ETRADE with a few mouse clicks, but is worth the effort. By deploying our capital locally into ventures that we value, we use our savings to help create the kind of future we want to live into:
I basically had to stop and say What should be my guiding principal? What is my personal investment compass? I realized that started from two psychological motivators for me. One is biophilia which is the love for everything that is alive and the other one is empathy. And so the way I deploy the capital from that point is to say Is an investment in agreement with those two principals? And if yes, let’s establish a relationship with either the person that is managing the fund or the entrepreneur that is seeking capital and only after I have a relationship in an alignment in terms of values with this person will I consider investing. And so a lot of my investments are local. I have full transparency as to what I am investing in. I know exactly who is the end beneficiary or the end user of my assets.
And I have some things like peer to peer lending and I have some of the new opportunities that have opened up because of the Title 3 of the jobs act which has made offering to the job public more available. But basically 100% of my portfolio is aligned with my values. Everything else is really outside Wall Street and outside the stock markets and bond markets. I do own some municipal bonds for projects I know exactly what they are funding. If there are some schools for example or some you know upgrades of some infrastructure the county or municipal level those are the type that I might have.
There’s a good portion of my portfolio for which I think I will get a positive return. And there is a slice of ‘deep impact’ things that I really care about and I am prepared to have maybe a slight negative financial return over all, but that’s fine because I view the known financial return of that part of the portfolio as building the world I want to live in and build the community I want to live in.
Click the play button below to listen to Chris’ interview with Marco Vangelisti (50m:00s).