Sustainable investment strategies are traditionally long on glossy marketing materials, but a little light on clear outcomes. Like, what happens as a result of making the investment? Our guest in this episode is Sam Duncan, CEO of NetPurpose, an impact measurement platform based in London that helps investors source, share, and stay abreast of the latest data associated with their strategies. We talk about the regulatory crackdown into greenwashing, the opportunities to converge ESG reporting frameworks, and more.
[sloane]: Welcome to the Free money podcast. It's where we bring you the Brooklyn Bay Area
[sloane]: consensus about institutional investing And this is the morning edition. Ask me,
[sloane]: thank you for being with us at Uh, four thirty in the morning, San Francisco time.
[ash_b]: It's the drive time. Uh, let's catch to the. let's cut to the chaopper, so we can
[ash_b]: check in on traffic.
[sloane]: Yup, yup,
[ash_b]: What's the traffic slow?
[sloane]: uh, the traffic is well, I mean currently here at the Uh, or tell us our some
[sloane]: residents, Um, there are tons of boxes everywhere because we've just rearranged the
[sloane]: entire house to take care of some best allergies,
[sloane]: Um, so
[ash_b]: my goodness,
[sloane]: yeah, yp, life is a shambles. Uh,
[ash_b]: And and if you hear wackys in my house, it's because it is drive time. the kids are
[ash_b]: getting out the door
[ash_b]: and it is wild on a Friday, whichlo, I should tell you, happens to be my birthday.
[sloane]: it's your birthday.
[ash_b]: Oh, yeah, not only are we
[sloane]: I think.
[ash_b]: doing the early drive time free money, but what better way to spend my fricking forty
[ash_b]: fifth birthday? Then with you
[ash_b]: recording a podcast for tens of other people?
[sloane]: I mean I. I think that you know the reaction to the audio issues that we had, Uh,
[sloane]: you know last year the pitch forks and torches outside of my, my, my house and
[sloane]: yours. I think. Uh, you know all tens of
[sloane]: those people, Uh, amass on our doorsteps,
[ash_b]: Yeah, those people were.
[ash_b]: It almost got loud. They were yelling together in perfect unison.
[ash_b]: Yeah, we're sorry about last week's audio issues, but we are going to
[ash_b]: probably put a human back in the loop of this uh,
[ash_b]: technologzed podcast so we'll say
[sloane]: yeah, e. yeah, exactly, we're going to. We're going to, you know, go a little lower
[sloane]: tech. Uh, you know, and and, and just like more artisan, I think more artisan.
[ash_b]: we, or we could go the other way. Let's just fully technologize this crap.
[sloane]: Oh, shit.
[ash_b]: You know what I mean like,
[ash_b]: I don't know what that means. but I do have news. I have news
[sloane]: you got some news. Get some.
[ash_b]: cause I want to jump into because there's some wild news items that I think are going
[ash_b]: to like literally guide others. a guy with a wind, a leaf blower walking behind the
[ash_b]: edges. So so you get some nice leaf blow noise when you do the drive time podcast.
[ash_b]: Um, so look, I, Harvard has announced it is goingnna fully divest from fossil fuels,
[ash_b]: which I think is a big deal. These
[ash_b]: guys are not creative. Don't be fooled when you think of.
[ash_b]: Don't be fulled that you think all of these endowments they invest in venture
[ash_b]: capital. These guys are creative. Absolutely not. They're all running the exact same
[ash_b]: investment strategy. They're all begging for access to Soquoya.
[ash_b]: They are Um,
[ash_b]: like with high levels of efficiency pursuing an endowment model. And so when you have
[ash_b]: a big famous endowment that does something like that, it is likely that many will
[ash_b]: copy them. and the fact that we now have two because let's go back a little bit and
[ash_b]: recall that it was our good friend, Uh
[sloane]: y, yp, y.
[ash_b]: Jagg de Bashir, r I p.
[ash_b]: missing episode missing, episode r, I p.
[sloane]: the, the guest of the This, the Secret hidden Tapes of free money.
[ash_b]: The secret headted tapes Where we do
[ash_b]: God, I can believe that happened anyway.
[ash_b]: We had ▁j Dee on the show and that we lost the tapes. We're professionals. Belt at
[sloane]: Yeah, we're the best at podcasting.
[ash_b]: we are the best. I f y. uh information for you. We're good at this. Um. But anyway,
[ash_b]: so University of California announced they were fossil free or almost, and then
[ash_b]: others were like. Oh, crap. this is possible. And you know who realized it was
[ash_b]: possible? student groups.
[sloane]: Yep, Yep,
[ash_b]: student groups were like. Well, she it. We're getting in there
[ash_b]: and uh, and they want in the case of Harvard, And so Harvard has to go fossil free.
[ash_b]: Fantastic, it's going to be great for their net. ▁zero plans. And you know it's just
[ash_b]: probably good to see somebody take the leap
[sloane]: Yeah, and and like I mean, for an endowment like Harvards, that's in a whole bunch
[sloane]: of private investment vehicles. It's not like a chill thing to go. I mean, like you
[sloane]: know, Invest, Like you know, we just simply don't buy the shit.
[sloane]: Um, but like if you're you know, you're again like seventeen k, K, R funds, forty
[sloane]: five Blackstone funds, and then a whole bunch of other stuff. Um, like how, how
[ash_b]: pretty hard.
[sloane]: mechanically like that. Yeah,
[ash_b]: How are you going to? How are they going to do That is? or is this like when Stanford
[ash_b]: said they were divesting from coal, And it turned out they were
[ash_b]: only divesting from their direct holdings of coal, and the the funds they were
[ash_b]: invested in could still invest, And it's like Well, you don't even do direct
[ash_b]: investing, so I don't get it anyway.
[ash_b]: Good boylug. you take the wind, the wind out of my sails, the wind beneath my wings.
[sloane]: that's I think that's my role here.
[ash_b]: I don't
[sloane]: I mean, you know you like you. You bring the San Francisco optimism. I bring the New
[sloane]: York jaundice. uh,
[ash_b]: so true. we got the like positive optimism, you know, Saving the World vibe over here
[ash_b]: in California. You guys are transactional mohos.
[ash_b]: Anyway. Next bit of news comes from. I'm not going to do the accent this time
[ash_b]: which is Uh, Yeah, it's always tempting, but I get a lot of feedback on my accents.
[ash_b]: Ah, a p. G.
[sloane]: yep, which is not Denmark, different from Denmark.
[ash_b]: it is.
[sloane]: The Netherlands of Denmark are different countries.
[ash_b]: it is a different country. All but it
[ash_b]: is the same thing as Holland. So
[sloane]: yep. yep. yep.
[ash_b]: uh, for those of you that are like, Where's Holland? And how is it different from the
[ash_b]: Netherlands? Boy, do I have a story for you. I f y again, um, a p. G's back in the
[ash_b]: news, My news. that is because once again this pension fund is leading the world in
[ash_b]: some pretty interesting data products.
[ash_b]: They now have
[ash_b]: a whole of custom in disease that allows investors to track different parts of the
[ash_b]: Um. Sustainable Development goals. They call s. d.
[ash_b]: I. in Cs. It's coming from their own data and their own platform, which is called the
[ash_b]: Acid Owner platform, which they've partnered with B C, I, Australian super and P G.
[ash_b]: G. M.
[ash_b]: And they're out there you know, doing really interesting work on Um, sustainable
[ash_b]: investment, and truly like ground breaking innovations Like, in this case they
[ash_b]: partnered with Contigo and Black Rock, But it's like a p. G, the pension fund who led
[ash_b]: the effort
[ash_b]: So pretty exciting.
[sloane]: that's so. that's so much more credible, Uh than like the Black Rock fund tracking
[sloane]: the S. T. Ds to me, I mean, like the to ha to have, like you know these guys, these
[sloane]: fiduciary. You know long term investors at the center of it who actually are sitting
[sloane]: there, owning it. not just like collecting a fee on it. Probably
[ash_b]: Absolutely. I couldn't agree more. Um, and I meant to. Now that I think about it, I
[ash_b]: probably should have done that story
[ash_b]: last before our guest, but I do have more.
[ash_b]: Hey guys are well oiled the machine.
[ash_b]: Uh, my next story and then we'll come back to maybe the A P. G briefly before we C.
[ash_b]: You know, Kick it to the guest. Um is the State of Wisconsin
[ash_b]: Investment board,
[ash_b]: Uh, which arguably is the best American pension plan.
[sloane]: they're so sharp. I mean like you could. There's all these like cheese headad jokes
[sloane]: that you can make, But like the I mean, those guy. I. I have had the pleasure of
[sloane]: interviewing several of them over the years, and like, uh, you know, it's like
[sloane]: they're coming in from the frozen North. They have, they have the clearest minds,
[ash_b]: Yeah, they got the clear minds and they, even when they're wearing the cheers, head,
[sloane]: you know,
[ash_b]: Uh cheese. it's like with equanimity, you know. they're just like peaceful in
[ash_b]: just observing.
[sloane]: I wear my cheese head with equanimity.
[ash_b]: swib is
[ash_b]: happy to invest in hotels again and they are launching
[ash_b]: a distressed hotel fund that they are leading with I forget who, cause, I forgot to
[ash_b]: write it down but a hundred million bucks
[ash_b]: into distressed hotels and I thought it was fantastic because that their rationale
[ash_b]: here is that, Um, the pandemic rebound is happening and people will be going to the
[ash_b]: hotels and so they want to invest in hotels. And so I just like that personally, be
[ash_b]: cause. I want to go back to hotels
[ash_b]: and so
[sloane]: yeah, it's
[sloane]: no. No. No, No, like thesis. No, no,
[ash_b]: no, no, no, this one. This, this is like. I read that and I was like cool, cool,
[ash_b]: cool, cool. If they're investing in hotels, that's a sign. Hotels are coming back.
[sloane]: hell, yeah,
[ash_b]: and I like the You know, the mind space of Ashby's had to do a hotel. You know it's
[ash_b]: goingnna be good. Uh, it turns out most of my hotel experiences are always like, Not
[ash_b]: that great Like you get to the hotel and they're like Doctor Monk. We've upgraded
[ash_b]: your room and then you get into the room and you're like How bad was the other room?
[ash_b]: But this. this is the upgrading Rom.
[sloane]: it's like. Ah yes. there's only one drippy pipe in this room.
[ash_b]: Exactly. especially in New York hotels like in New You,
[ash_b]: You of New York, the room is like four feet by three and a half feet, just tall
[sloane]: I'm pretty excited we're We're heading out my family reunion. I, for you know, long
[sloane]: time listeners well know, I have a large Mormon family.
[sloane]: Um is happening next week. Uh in Salt Lake City, the American Switzerland. Um. And
[sloane]: and so I am going to get this span a couple of nights in the Salt Lake City,
[sloane]: which is like, for. For me, it like brings out my interner, basic white girl in a in
[sloane]: a way that I just like, Can't explain. It's like the bed sheets are going to be
[sloane]: clean. It's going to be so good. It's so novel. I mean like, I never thought I would
[sloane]: be excited to stay. Had a marriet. but here we are. Um,
[ash_b]: Yeah, well, Cov will do weird things to you. You'll be like Pump to do a lot of
[ash_b]: things. Um,
[sloane]: and speaking of, here we
[sloane]: are. I see our guest, as in a waiter. Would you like to introduce her?
[ash_b]: I would, so full disclosure, I absolutely love the company that this woman works for
[ash_b]: Sam Duncan. She's the C. E.
[sloane]: You love it so much that you work there?
[ash_b]: O, of Net Purpose, I might be on the board. Oh, is that the disclosure I was supposed
[ash_b]: to do? Oh, shit. yeah, so the discla disclosure I thought I was doing was that I love
[ash_b]: this company and I love this woman and she's a fabulous c. e. O. That's building
[ash_b]: impact data through a company called Net Purpose, and you know, in light of the A P.
[ash_b]: G News and the Harvard News and all this stuff, and we've been talking a lot about
[ash_b]: impact on this show.
[ash_b]: we thought we'd have her on to help her explain all this stuff to us
[ash_b]: like we're
[sloane]: Yeah, yeah, and you know, and frankly we we are high, Sam.
[ash_b]: we are. Yeah, Sam.
[ash_b]: Hi, good to see you.
[samantha_duncan]: get to see, too. This is fabulous.
[ash_b]: Oh, yeah, we're that. we're highly Um. technologized. We got this incredible
[ash_b]: podcasting system. Um. it worked.
[sloane]: Yeah, it's totally er. free.
[sloane]: Like we did like two. You know, we did two minutes at the top of this pootcast about
[sloane]: like audio issues that we've had. And how
[sloane]: were the worst? So
[ash_b]: sixty percent of time,
[samantha_duncan]: I can hear you.
[ash_b]: sixty percent of the time. It works every time. Okay,
[samantha_duncan]: I see
[ash_b]: uh, sam, we were just riffen a little bit about Um, some impact related news. So
[ash_b]: there's the A. P. G Has all these new indices to track. the S. D. I.
[ash_b]: You know, it feels like everywhere we turn there's like a big move towards impact. So
[ash_b]: you're like the c, e o of the one and only, as far as I can figure out Impact data
[ash_b]: company on the earth,
[ash_b]: there may be one or two others, but I'm biased. I've already disclosed my biases by
[ash_b]: the way, said,
[sloane]: the only company at all on the earth?
[ash_b]: then if you want to talk to
[samantha_duncan]: that exists anywhere.
[ash_b]: if you're interested in impact, close your eyes at dial Sam's phone number anyway.
[ash_b]: Uh, maybe you could just kick us off with a definition of impact investment, and I
[ash_b]: know this wasn't part of the plan, but I think sometimes people just need that
[ash_b]: definition and then the other off the top piece here, which might be a little bit
[ash_b]: random for you. Is you used to work at Leap Frog in private market stuff? Now you're
[ash_b]: solving problems in public markets. Maybe as part of your definition of impact
[ash_b]: investment, you can help us understand how you do impact in public markets?
[samantha_duncan]: Great questions. Um, fabulous. I can answer them, Mo in like thirty
[sloane]: Yeah, always asked me like, as always asked the graduates toqui the school question.
[sloane]: Where its
[sloane]: so? just La? This paragraph for you.
[ash_b]: yeah, Subqu, for
[ash_b]: you don't need to write. write a thesis on this. Thus
[ash_b]: A you can just give us the quick version.
[samantha_duncan]: Absolutely absolutely. Why do we start with a definition of impact
[samantha_duncan]: investing? Very
[samantha_duncan]: important question. Um, and
[samantha_duncan]: I think. Uh, so I'll start with the technical definition and this was
[samantha_duncan]: actually defined by the Global Impact investing network, which has tried a
[samantha_duncan]: lot. I think to maintain the integrity of this space as it scales.
[samantha_duncan]: but they call it impact investments or investments made with the intention
[samantha_duncan]: to generate positive and measurable social and environmental impact
[samantha_duncan]: alongside financial return,
[ash_b]: impact. the word impact seemed like it was in that definition.
[samantha_duncan]: measurable social and environmental.
[samantha_duncan]: It was.
[ash_b]: All right.
[sloane]: Are you saying it somewhat of a circular definition? After
[ash_b]: I' just try to sit here and learnlu right.
[samantha_duncan]: well it is true. Actually, that's hilarious in itself.
[ash_b]: But so we're
[ash_b]: measuring this stuff, I think
[ash_b]: is what you're saying?
[samantha_duncan]: I think the differentor is your measuring it, Um. and also that there's a
[samantha_duncan]: financial return element. There is a impact investing is intended to
[samantha_duncan]: combine financial return and measurable social and environmental
[samantha_duncan]: or return. Um, And I think how you define social and environment
[samantha_duncan]: performance is the crux of the issue. Like, What does that actually mean
[samantha_duncan]: Because the word impact, Yes, I think is not fully defined until you define
[samantha_duncan]: all those
[ash_b]: and and part of this is like we're seeing to more regulatory scrutiny here in the Us.
[ash_b]: I'm sure you've seen it. And and it is probably deserved, because like there is so
[ash_b]: much capital out there that claims to be sustainable.
[ash_b]: In your mind, What
[ash_b]: are some of the key elements of Like an evidenced based reporting framework, Um, that
[ash_b]: we can kind of take forward that will placate all these regulators.
[samantha_duncan]: Yeah, well, it is a really interesting space because I think sustainable
[samantha_duncan]: investing and impact investing and responsible investing and E s, g
[samantha_duncan]: investing all kind of getting thrown in the mix here. and frankly, I think
[samantha_duncan]: we're all kind of talking about the same thing that we all have social and
[samantha_duncan]: environmental goals that we want to incorporate alongside our financial
[samantha_duncan]: goals, and I think for all of us, as you say, regulation is coming into
[samantha_duncan]: play across Europe, definitely, and in the U. S. In development and in a
[samantha_duncan]: number of other markets as well, I think the essence of getting regulation
[samantha_duncan]: working for us on this topic is to define what the goals are,
[samantha_duncan]: Um. and the evidence to track performance against those goals should
[samantha_duncan]: actually be evidence. So big topics like climate change mean we can measure
[samantha_duncan]: that. Now, in unometric tons of carbon emissions, I mean that metric just
[samantha_duncan]: needs to be specified and everyone should report it, And then that's
[samantha_duncan]: comparable as well across the universe, So key elements is to answer.
[ash_b]: That seems very sensible. Like, why is? I mean? there's lots of questions asking. but
[ash_b]: I hear you say it like that. Why the hell is not happening already? It just seems so
[ash_b]: obvious that we would all report on that.
[samantha_duncan]: Yeah, yeah, well, I think it's so. I think it's an interesting evolution
[samantha_duncan]: cause if you think back,
[samantha_duncan]: a financial accounting standards weren't really locked down till the early
[samantha_duncan]: two thousands. You know when we had a couple of corporate collapses and
[samantha_duncan]: revenue numbers or whatever were being fudged Until then, Actually it was
[samantha_duncan]: diff. There were different ways to measure financial performance in every
[samantha_duncan]: country and then we had the international financial Reporting standards
[samantha_duncan]: that kind of harmonized a lot of those for a lot of countries. I kind of
[samantha_duncan]: feel like E, s. G
[samantha_duncan]: and sustainability is in this similar like disparate phase where there's
[samantha_duncan]: actually so many elements of social and environmental performance
[samantha_duncan]: and I like to talk about like five major ones. but like even just water
[samantha_duncan]: jobs, and like people with access to services like those are five things.
[samantha_duncan]: They're actually quite different
[samantha_duncan]: and I think because we haven't really deconstructed that well yet, we kind
[samantha_duncan]: of try and put a wrapper around it in Es G. And then as a result, you've
[samantha_duncan]: got this rapper term that everyone' using. but it's kind of talking about
[samantha_duncan]: different things for different people. I feel like we need a deconstruct it
[samantha_duncan]: again, Kind of like an income statement was with revenue
[samantha_duncan]: that profit. like put the climate, the waste, the water on the page, and
[samantha_duncan]: then just get metriics for each of those deconstructed items. We could
[samantha_duncan]: measure that comparably,
[sloane]: that would be delightful. I mean as a user of those uh disclosure statements, I, I
[sloane]: am often in the place where I'm like I am. you know, completely unclear on how to. I
[sloane]: mean, like you know, you'll get like, really, really good and thoughtful reports
[sloane]: that are three hundred pages long. Um, you know, or uh, you
[sloane]: know, and and like I, I think the point about the evolution of counting standards is
[sloane]: really well taken. Like you know, every Sass company that's public right now is
[sloane]: complaining about how revenue recognition standards changed for their kind of Sass
[sloane]: product, And like all of a sudden, there' p, E ratios or skyrocketing and people are
[sloane]: grumpy at them. Um, you know, I wonder like I want to go back to Ashbys to part, uh,
[sloane]: foresee of Ashby's question and ask you about your time at Leaf Frog because you
[sloane]: know that's a a space that like Uh, you know, Um, kind of a pioneer in impact
[sloane]: investing. Um, you know and doing private market stuff. Obviously, I wonder if you
[sloane]: could you could talk about what you found when you got there, Um, and how it
[sloane]: contrasts to to to kind of what you find. Now.
[samantha_duncan]: Yeah, absolutely, I will very happily talk about leap frogs. It's a
[samantha_duncan]: fabulous company and if Anyon's listening here, they still exist. They're
[samantha_duncan]: still fabulous. You can go find them. The Leaf Frog is basically a one of
[samantha_duncan]: the first impacts investors in emerging markets. The fund launch. the first
[samantha_duncan]: fund launched in two thousand and eight actually, with President Bill
[samantha_duncan]: Clinton, Um. right at the peak of the financial crisis, and the goal of the
[samantha_duncan]: strategy was really to generate top Corti financial returns
[samantha_duncan]: with measurable social impact And anything. what Leafrog did really well.
[samantha_duncan]: Is they defined that very clearly, Like they said, A goal of reaching
[samantha_duncan]: twenty five million low income people with access to insurance. Yeah,
[samantha_duncan]: that's something that you can like. like my grandma could grab on to and be
[samantha_duncan]: like. Oh, I get that you know, I know what that means. Um, and also it
[samantha_duncan]: drove the entire investment strate, so every investment vessional in the
[samantha_duncan]: fund knew that's what they were trying to achieve. Um, So Leapfrog actually
[samantha_duncan]: went and did that. Um. And I was well, I had the lucky job of measuring our
[samantha_duncan]: performance against those two goals on a quarterly basis,
[samantha_duncan]: and the way that we did that Um, was really to back companies that actually
[samantha_duncan]: provided low income people access to these services and asked them to
[samantha_duncan]: report to us their performance on that k. p. I. And actually they had that
[samantha_duncan]: data because that was their company. That was what they were doing. Um, so
[samantha_duncan]: it actually wasn't that difficult to get
[samantha_duncan]: the information from companies in terms of this is the metric we're looking
[samantha_duncan]: for. Oh yeah, that's fine. We have it, but the challenge was just as like
[samantha_duncan]: data drag of Okay, but can you send that to me an excel for ay, please. And
[samantha_duncan]: um, then I'm going to combine it with my ten other expeel spadubs and turn
[samantha_duncan]: that around to my investor and try and generate a report. That whole piece
[samantha_duncan]: of work which is automated on the financial side is. I think what's like
[samantha_duncan]: hindering a lot of the impact measurement on the impact side, Not really
[samantha_duncan]: the fact that the data doesn't exist more that it's like hard to kind of
[samantha_duncan]: get into a usable format.
[sloane]: Yeah, it's like it's not that the operator of the company doesn't know that they're
[sloane]: serving the people that they set out to see tos. It's that you know the the data
[sloane]: doesn't necessarily exist in a standardized convertible framework. Um, you know, and
[sloane]: like I, I think that be as we ▁zooe out beyond impact investing right like the? You
[sloane]: know, If you think about just a standard growth company today,
[sloane]: like literally, anything like you know. Think like a ▁zen desk forman sake. Um, you
[sloane]: know which uh at you know, customer service, C or M. May you know? Maybe it's maybe
[sloane]: it's the Newtline thing. Maybe not, but that company, you know, the majority of its
[sloane]: assets are intangible. The majority of its assets are related to Uh, kind of like
[sloane]: these nonfancial metrics. I I wonder if you could talk about how like people are
[sloane]: using E d data now to kind of get a better window into that. That sort of stuff.
[samantha_duncan]: yeah, yeah, I think this is such a good lens on this whole topic, because I
[samantha_duncan]: think you've got the lens of e, s g and sustainability data. That's like we
[samantha_duncan]: want to solve the planet's problems and take it it from a social point of
[samantha_duncan]: view. But then I think if you just take the pure financial ends and
[samantha_duncan]: intangible value and company value, we're kind of in this world where're
[samantha_duncan]: just getting more information on the value that companies are driving
[samantha_duncan]: instead of just a rote set of financial statements. It's all nonfancial
[samantha_duncan]: data. So, yeah, things like employee retention, Um, I mean, even turno, a
[samantha_duncan]: kind of gender diversity board diversity, kind of tell you just a little
[samantha_duncan]: bit more about how a company is made up, and the way they make decisions
[samantha_duncan]: Who makes those decisions? Uh, all those little bits and pieces that can
[samantha_duncan]: start to, I guess, indicate our drivers of intangible value, Um, today, I
[samantha_duncan]: don't think we're getting to full information on the drivers of intangible
[samantha_duncan]: value, but at least we're like piecing that apart a little bit more than
[samantha_duncan]: just financial statements.
[ash_b]: I love the the
[ash_b]: comment earlier you made about like your your grandma can like wrap your head around
[ash_b]: this. Because when I think of Um, impact and its difference with
[ash_b]: e s g, I think of storytelling.
[ash_b]: And and so I want to ask you a question about. Like the difference between e, s g and
[ash_b]: and outcomes data. Um, and when I think of e s g, data and and I'll let you answer.
[ash_b]: But I, I think of like policies, and it's really hard to tell a freaking story. Like
[ash_b]: this company has a policy around gender diversity. You know that doesn't resonate in
[ash_b]: the same way, and I know, like in talking to you over the years, you're really
[ash_b]: focused on the outcomes and so does the outcome data. then allow you to tell stories.
[ash_b]: and like, give us a little bit of a sense Like what those differences are, and how
[ash_b]: like net purpose avoids. Like that policy stuff, or if you're doing it like how do
[ash_b]: you do it differently?
[samantha_duncan]: Yeah, fabulous, su, um. Yeah, there is this kind of e s g connotation which
[samantha_duncan]: has historically meant and referred to
[samantha_duncan]: policy based. Yes, No answers to questions. Um, and I think what having
[samantha_duncan]: grown up in this industry, What's really tough about that to deal with is
[samantha_duncan]: like classic example. Do you have a gender diversity policy? Yes or no.
[samantha_duncan]: That would have been a question on the Dow Jone Sustainability Index or
[samantha_duncan]: whatever for a company to answer From an e s g perspective.
[samantha_duncan]: It's much simpler to just to know how many women you're actually hiring
[samantha_duncan]: like That's the outcome
[sloane]: Yeah, you can see that from space,
[ash_b]: You mean
[ash_b]: you can count,
[sloane]: Simply go out like them and it's like Oh, cool. there are women and there people
[sloane]: with melo in Wow,
[ash_b]: but they have a palicylu.
[samantha_duncan]: exactly. So I kind of feel like
[samantha_duncan]: that's the difference. Outcomes are like quantitative facts that you can
[samantha_duncan]: understand. and I think, By the way at leapfrog, we really thought hard
[samantha_duncan]: about that Like the fact that our goal was a number of people with access
[samantha_duncan]: to insurance. Like everyone knows what that means. I think if we had have
[samantha_duncan]: said a goal that said A,
[samantha_duncan]: on e, s. G. people would like, Okay, Um, I don't really know to do with
[samantha_duncan]: that, but let me try and figure that out for a couple of months before I
[samantha_duncan]: build an investment strategy around it. Um, so yeah, I think the simplicit
[samantha_duncan]: basically outcomes are quantitative facts that measure actual performance
[samantha_duncan]: on a sustainability topic versus a policy which measures really an input
[samantha_duncan]: into achieving the performance. Um and again, just to come back to the
[samantha_duncan]: financial analogy like, I always think It's strange because I would never
[samantha_duncan]: like ask Amazon if they have a policy to generate
[samantha_duncan]: revenue right, like, I kind of want to know what their revenue is.
[samantha_duncan]: Um, so that's where I feel like this transition is happening and I think
[samantha_duncan]: actually a lot of e, s, g, data you know, just to give full credit to the
[samantha_duncan]: space and the evolution. The reason why it happened that way is because
[samantha_duncan]: there was no quantitative data or they. We didn't have as much contsative
[samantha_duncan]: data as we do today. so we can't to build a way to ask companies what they
[samantha_duncan]: were doing on these topics to assess how they were doing. I just think
[samantha_duncan]: we're in a very different space now where we can actually use the
[samantha_duncan]: quantitative data on performance to assess performance versus intent.
[ash_b]: so real. Quite before you jump your, I'm going to put a a bouny out there, free free
[ash_b]: money mug, free, free money, mugged to the first financial anyistt, That asks a
[ash_b]: corporate Ceo if they have a
[sloane]: Oh god,
[ash_b]: policy Oer revenue. You can.
[sloane]: Oh my god.
[ash_b]: You could lump it in with your question. if they have a policy on gender diversity.
[sloane]: yeah, yeah, yeah, so uh yeah, great quarter, guys, Um, you know, I just wonder. Im
[sloane]: curious like what's your policy?
[ash_b]: What's your policy on revenue? Now
[sloane]: Would you consider do? Are you pro revenue or like? what? Um, Yeah,
[ash_b]: do it, and you get a free mugry, Your next question.
[sloane]: I. I mean, actually, I. if if you do it, I'll I'll go even one further than Ashby.
[sloane]: We will like take your photo. and in the way that people treat photos of like Third
[sloane]: World politicians, Uh, will make a page for you like a digital shrine on the free
[ash_b]: You know, what will create an This is.
[ash_b]: that would be artistic Cre, T for you, non token,
[sloane]: Yeah, exactly y, you know I. I. I think like one of the things that comes with a lot
[sloane]: of this. you know. Kind of I. You know, we've basically we're riffing on the
[sloane]: absurdity. Sometimes that people have you. That comes up when people are like asking
[sloane]: me is like. Well, yeah, so you know Like would you consider like? Are you going to
[sloane]: stop destroying the world? Like in three years and five years, or you know? Um, like
[sloane]: I, I, I think that that's relevant to a lot of people you know. And like you know,
[sloane]: our home is at, like the transition Pathway initiative, for instance, ask a question
[sloane]: like Do you guys use an internal pres Carbon? And that that's a group that does you
[sloane]: know. They. They basically take the biggest deitters on the public markets and then
[sloane]: they're like. Okay, Well, you know, let's you know. send them all a questionnaire.
[sloane]: Allow people to evaluate them Um, you know and I guess it's helpful for people who
[sloane]: are trying to pick the least bad oil company. Um, you know, but for people like you
[sloane]: know, do you see a material distinction between that sort of analysis like, let's
[sloane]: pick the least bad oil company? Um, and you know kind of like. I guess what you
[sloane]: could call it a purer or more innocent analysis. Uh, like let's make the most
[samantha_duncan]: Yeah, yeah, it's an interesting question. Um, and Don me wrong. I think
[samantha_duncan]: there's always. I mean we investors. there's always you. An infinite amount
[samantha_duncan]: of analysis you could do, qualitative and quantitative and consative.
[samantha_duncan]: Definitely isn't the answer to everything, and doesn't capture everything.
[samantha_duncan]: I think. Even in that example, like with an oil company indicators that are
[samantha_duncan]: specified by the sustainable Development goals, like megaad hours of
[samantha_duncan]: renewable energy generated, versus you know, fossil fuel generated energy,
[samantha_duncan]: for example, and looking at how that mix changes over time is probably a
[samantha_duncan]: better way of assessing an oil company's transition to cleaner fuels than
[samantha_duncan]: policies around, like
[samantha_duncan]: gender diversity or their transition or their goals around time now, I
[samantha_duncan]: don't think it's the anything I think like. Actually, the biggest topic at
[samantha_duncan]: the moment is given the net, ▁zero goals and climate emergency. What the
[samantha_duncan]: goals are that a company actually has, so you can nott just look at their
[samantha_duncan]: performance today, but chart their growth or their de growrowth in
[samantha_duncan]: emissions from now out to twenty, thirty, twenty, fifty, twenty, sixty. And
[samantha_duncan]: those are at the moment, Like having questions with the Ceos of these
[samantha_duncan]: companies and saying What is your plan? What is your path? Not just what's
[samantha_duncan]: your performance today. So, yeah, I mean that those type of Um. qualitative
[samantha_duncan]: questions are important, but I would expect those c, e Os to be setting
[samantha_duncan]: quantitative targets, just like they said, quantitative targets on
[samantha_duncan]: financial formats.
[sloane]: Yeah, like the Free Money Board, meaning that we had right before this podcast where
[sloane]: we're like, Oh, we've been having audio issues like vet a
[ash_b]: y, y.
[sloane]: shambles, Like, do we plan to avoid the to get around that over time, or
[ash_b]: We need a policy. Y.
[sloane]: we just sort of, uh, we have a po. We have a policy of working
[sloane]: on it. Uh, well, let's talk about net purposecause. Uh, you always ▁zoom in on what
[sloane]: you're doing specifically. And and one of the things that jumps out on the site is
[sloane]: you know that you're not making another framework which is quite welcome because
[sloane]: there are many of them. Um, you know, and I, I, I guess you know. You sort of note
[sloane]: that one of the uses of your platform is that standard, a standard setter. You know,
[sloane]: if we were to create the free money, E, s. G, you know. whatever, Um, because
[sloane]: you know we hate ourselves and whatever, uh,
[ash_b]: trademark. All that that was great. That's great marketing.
[ash_b]: He. s. do whatever because we hate ourselves.
[ash_b]: He. s. do whatever because we hate ourselves.
[sloane]: yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, th. the
[sloane]: yeah. exactly. we were to create the history. whatever framework, Uh, we could log
[sloane]: in that purpose and use your platform To you know, ha, identify opportunities to
[sloane]: converge it with other regulatory frameworks. Can you talk about why that's
[sloane]: important and how that might work on the platform?
[samantha_duncan]: Yes, absolutely thanks, Sloan. Um. So maybe just a word of context as to
[samantha_duncan]: why we're doing that as well. The way we see our role here is we're in this
[samantha_duncan]: moment where we have about a third of all the world's capital committed to
[samantha_duncan]: investing sustainably offer impact or using e, s G, which might be
[samantha_duncan]: confusing. but we take that from an optimistic lens. To say, there's a lot
[samantha_duncan]: of investors that want to do something about this, and there's enough
[samantha_duncan]: emergencies that we need to do something about.
[samantha_duncan]: So, in that moment when you look at getting that done,
[samantha_duncan]: Um, we can't really ask investors to make different decisions until they
[samantha_duncan]: have the data. They need to do that, and getting the data has a couple of
[samantha_duncan]: different elements. One is defining what we should measure, which a lot of
[samantha_duncan]: standard setting bodies have done a lot of work on over a lot of years, and
[samantha_duncan]: we are seeing convergence, which is a really exciting thing, Um. But the
[samantha_duncan]: second is even when we achieve convergence, we have a thirty billion dollar
[samantha_duncan]: financial data industry today that underpins financial investment
[samantha_duncan]: decisions. Um, and that exists because investors don't have the time to
[samantha_duncan]: aggregate their own data and punch numbers from Ped F reports into their
[samantha_duncan]: Excel spreadsheets. You need that technology to underpin the decision
[samantha_duncan]: making process.
[samantha_duncan]: If you look at the shift in capital, then from financial to social and
[samantha_duncan]: environmental performance, we just don't have that infrastructure built yet
[samantha_duncan]: to do that effortlessly, So our mission is literally make impact
[samantha_duncan]: measurement effortless for every investor of the world,
[samantha_duncan]: And when we say, think about standards, Um, we're building the data
[samantha_duncan]: infrastructure, not the standards, So what we would love to see is all
[samantha_duncan]: these standards they converge, And what we do is we kind of map, Um, the
[samantha_duncan]: standards all the standards today, and we put them on one page
[samantha_duncan]: and out of that mapping. Drops a bunch of data points that are actually
[samantha_duncan]: really similar, which is why I think we're so close to convergence and we
[samantha_duncan]: just populate those fields with data. We don't kind of apine on what the
[samantha_duncan]: standards should be. But what's cool out of that is that like a standard,
[samantha_duncan]: seter, could come to the nep of a platform and look at all the data points
[samantha_duncan]: and see how many companies are actually disclosing. What, Like you know,
[samantha_duncan]: you guys are prescribing this disclosed datapo. Only two percent of
[samantha_duncan]: companies in our universe are actually putting any data out on there. Maybe
[samantha_duncan]: you should consider like dropping that from your list, because like eighty
[samantha_duncan]: five percent of companies are disclosing this one. For example. So that's a
[samantha_duncan]: way that we think that we could help the standardzeing process just by
[samantha_duncan]: providing transparency on what data is out there, and as a result, like
[samantha_duncan]: what our company is finding it possible to report on and what they're not.
[ash_b]: It's really interesting. First off to like, remind everybody that a third of the
[ash_b]: capital in the world is like being invested in in this way. and like that. these
[ash_b]: outcomes data don't exist. Like to me, there's like a huge disconnect right, and part
[ash_b]: of me, the the likekeeptic,
[ash_b]: and me wonders. Did a third of that capital make that commitment Because they knew
[ash_b]: there was no actual measurement. You know, like they could just like. Oh, it's all
[ash_b]: policy based crap anyway, so we'll just keep doing what we're doing and our marketing
[ash_b]: people get to say that we're sustainable because it's all crap. So that's thekeptic,
[ash_b]: Let's put that. let's put that human
[ash_b]: being to decide. now. The the thing I'm really interested in You're building
[ash_b]: outcomes. Like when you talk to the, I guess your customers like What are they most
[ash_b]: excited about? Is it the climate angle, which feels like it's everywhere. Um, or is
[ash_b]: it like cause? you mentioned. like the five themes that you're really interested in
[ash_b]: access to services? You know all that kind of stuff. So honestly like what is like
[ash_b]: the most interesting thing that they want out of your data. And how are they using
[samantha_duncan]: yeah. So, I mean, I think they are basically looking. so our clients today
[samantha_duncan]: are fund managers that manage sustainable and impact portfolios and what
[samantha_duncan]: they're looking for is a way to report as rigorously on those outcomes or
[samantha_duncan]: those indicators as they do on their financial performance. And you're
[samantha_duncan]: right, Ashby. I mean, like most of the ninety trillion, or the one third of
[samantha_duncan]: the world's capital that says they're committed to this, is really
[samantha_duncan]: committed to e, s, G, which is largely a lot of policies. Um.
[samantha_duncan]: but I don't know if you sit read and detail the E U regulation on this
[samantha_duncan]: topic, but it's all quantitative,
[ash_b]: That is fabulous.
[samantha_duncan]: which is fabulous. So they're all going to have to. Yeah, everyone, one's
[samantha_duncan]: going to have to go in that direction. Um, and so I think what our clients
[samantha_duncan]: were looking for is measurable performance, quantitative performance. just
[samantha_duncan]: like they have on financial performance. They are really interested in
[samantha_duncan]: climate, and I think every investor in the world that's doing anything in
[samantha_duncan]: sustainability has to be interested in that right now. Um. and I think
[samantha_duncan]: they've got O K data on some climate metrics like Scope One and Scope, too.
[samantha_duncan]: Although we've found more data just in a more detailed and thorough way
[samantha_duncan]: from the same companies, Um than our peers on even those quite common
[samantha_duncan]: metrics today. But what they' lacking is they're often looking to invest in
[samantha_duncan]: solutions, so products and services that actually are producing things that
[samantha_duncan]: could solve the climate crisis, like renewable energy, but also energy
[samantha_duncan]: efficiency tools, building insulation like, Actually, you know, Um,
[samantha_duncan]: building envelopes, things that are going to solve kind of the energy
[samantha_duncan]: crisis from the demand side as well as supply side, et cetera, And we work
[samantha_duncan]: to identify those solutions and also measure their
[samantha_duncan]: see or two. Avoid it, for example, their impact in a quantitative way, so
[samantha_duncan]: they can not just identify the solution, but measure the impact of
[samantha_duncan]: investing in those solutions, And then I think we have a wider set like we
[samantha_duncan]: actually cover. I kind of
[samantha_duncan]: summarized in five things. we
[samantha_duncan]: cover about ten themes today. But Um,
[samantha_duncan]: Clliim is not the only thing everyone knows that water is going to be
[samantha_duncan]: important next and waste, So don't just anchor on one, but seeal all the
[samantha_duncan]: others as well. we provide that information to them too.
[sloane]: Do you worry all about the way that that information went up, getting used in
[sloane]: marketing? Be cause? The, I mean like the. there's a. um. I mean. I actually had to
[sloane]: hold myself back from writing a big, like, kind of angry blog post about like a a
[sloane]: major asset manager,
[sloane]: Um, put out a uh, you know, like a, basically like a two page infographic about one
[sloane]: of their largest dfunds that heavily implied that there was a direct implicate A
[sloane]: direct result of Uh. making an allocation of this Etf would be the reduction in
[sloane]: carbon. In other words, that by investing in this Ef carbon that would have
[sloane]: been oitted would not have been omitted. Were A actually the? The? What the data
[sloane]: said is that the carbon footprint of the companies in the portfolio differed from
[sloane]: the carbon footprint in the in the companies of the indices?
[samantha_duncan]: Yeah, yeah,
[sloane]: You know, I. I assume you must run into people crossing that line left and right.
[samantha_duncan]: yes, and this is like, I think a bit of the hardest part about this
[samantha_duncan]: challenge at the moment. that. Um, like the way we work is we just well
[samantha_duncan]: just, but we aggregate data and we provide that to people transparently but
[samantha_duncan]: we don't prescribe how they should use it. We don't dont have visibility or
[samantha_duncan]: any authority over how they publish their reports. I think that's a role
[samantha_duncan]: where regulation can really help and needs to help, because the
[samantha_duncan]: interpretation of this information. Yeah,
[samantha_duncan]: is challenging right now. Um,
[samantha_duncan]: and I think it's kind of like that. How do you
[samantha_duncan]: not let perfect be the enemy of good in taking like micro steps, but also
[samantha_duncan]: like get to perfect as quickly as possible, because
[ash_b]: how do I
[samantha_duncan]: people need to be able to make the decisions. So we do provide some
[samantha_duncan]: guidance around reporting what we consider best practice. But ▁ultimately,
[samantha_duncan]: we don't have your authority.
[sloane]: Yeah, and if you tried to prescribe that you wouldn't have a business, Uh, yeah,
[samantha_duncan]: No, and also, I also think it's I mean, so I think it's also.
[samantha_duncan]: It's quite easy to
[samantha_duncan]: ding a lot of these things and let there are a lot of things to do. To be
[samantha_duncan]: honest, because there is a little up, but also
[samantha_duncan]: it's quite hard. like for I don't know someone that's never thought about.
[samantha_duncan]: not like, never learn this in school. never trained on the job to measure
[samantha_duncan]: carbon emissions. Avoided of a portfolio, Kind of may be trying to do their
[samantha_duncan]: best, but like God, it wrong. Who knows. I mean that's the like,
[samantha_duncan]: optimistic, the on it and the pessimistic view, and I just don't think we
[samantha_duncan]: know what is actually happening. I mean, I know for one that like working
[samantha_duncan]: with investors the last ten years, an impact investing, even the most
[samantha_duncan]: sophisticated. Um, it? It's not like effortless
[samantha_duncan]: right, so it's really something that needs to all need to figured out.
[ash_b]: I did want?
[sloane]: that's all way.
[ash_b]: I mean, I know where' we. We've taken you way longer than we promised we would, but
[ash_b]: you're such an interesting topic and it comes up time and time again and and I think
[ash_b]: the the last kind of comment and or question where we want to say is like these
[ash_b]: frameworks. Part of me wonders if like the lack of frameworks is
[ash_b]: useful for some of the more sophisticated investors that are using this data that
[ash_b]: like to feel like they're
[ash_b]: building their process, and I'm often reminded of like back in the nineteen fifties,
[ash_b]: when one of those big conglomerates started selling cakes in a box,
[ash_b]: Um you? A? like they weren't selling any cakes in a box, because the the chefs at
[ash_b]: home, which back then was usually women were' like this is cheating like I'm I'm just
[ash_b]: putting the cake in in the bowl and mixing it with. Water like that's not cooking,
[ash_b]: you know, And and what they figured out is they had to
[ash_b]: have the. the. The women put an egg in the box,
[ash_b]: and just the addition of an egg for them made them feel like I'm cooking. There was
[ash_b]: no need to put the egg in, but they added that to the ingredients list. so they
[ash_b]: dumped the box in the bowl. They put an egg and water spun it. They had their cake.
[ash_b]: It's sold like crazy in this case. Where am I going with this great question? Uh, in
[ash_b]: this case like you're providing a really interesting product that like frankly,
[ash_b]: doesn't k, need like it may not need the egg yet. Um, but the these organizs I don't
[ash_b]: know where I'm going, but I think they want the egg right. Like the really
[ash_b]: sophisticated. Like what I think
[ash_b]: we're talking about F name workors is like we don't need an act like we're just
[ash_b]: delivering the impact data analgy, making any sense, Anymo,
[sloane]: Yeah, we will on a plant, bas,
[sloane]: substitute for an egg.
[ash_b]: sorry, thisvest be good. Oh shi.
[ash_b]: Anyway, my point is that lack of frameworks may,
[ash_b]: the lack of Framx may actually like help you get early customers from the really
[ash_b]: the lack of Framx may actually like help you get early customers from the really
[samantha_duncan]: I got. I got it.
[ash_b]: sophisticated people that are like. I can really use this data in my process,
[ash_b]: sophisticated people that are like. I can really use this data in my process,
[ash_b]: but the frameworks are then there to take it out to the masses. anyway. that was my
[samantha_duncan]: No. I totally agree by the way, and I actually think there this like thing
[samantha_duncan]: happening at the moment where
[samantha_duncan]: impacts and sustainable investors do like if they figured out a framework
[samantha_duncan]: ahead of everyone else. They do look like they'. I mean they are they
[samantha_duncan]: actually contributing to figing that at first of all, So that's helpful.
[samantha_duncan]: But Um, people see it as a competitive differentitor, because other people
[samantha_duncan]: haven't yet figured out their frameworks. I think if you fast forward five
[samantha_duncan]: or ten years, though I hope we are in the same situation as we are in
[samantha_duncan]: financial performance where you're an impact investor because you generated
[samantha_duncan]: outsized impact, not because you measured it
[samantha_duncan]: in a certain way. Um, and that's I think that performance differentiation
[samantha_duncan]: that hasn't yet dropped. Like, Actually, you're an impact investor if
[samantha_duncan]: you're actually outperforming on impact, not if you built a framework to
[samantha_duncan]: measure it. And I think, By the way, people also are spending a lot of
[samantha_duncan]: internal time on figuring this stuff out. and if they're investing actually
[samantha_duncan]: that much human capital in figuring something out, they kind of want to use
[samantha_duncan]: that investment in a way that like is differentiating. so yeah, there is
[samantha_duncan]: that framework versus performance. I think kind of I P type thing happening
[samantha_duncan]: at the moment. I think the long term is standardization hopefully, and you
[samantha_duncan]: know, outperformance on performance.
[sloane]: I think that's a great place to leave it, cause, Yeah, I mean
[sloane]: I. I think you know everyone hopes it bad. We can move past the like bureaucratic uh
[sloane]: form filling out part, and you know, move towards the like, You know, Actually
[sloane]: measuring how
[sloane]: good people are at doing the thing Part.
[ash_b]: Yeah, are we making the world a better place
[ash_b]: and I think you know to close it close down here, I think with if you're successful
[ash_b]: with Net purpose, we're actually going to have an answer for that, you know. Like,
[ash_b]: are these investors actually driving positive impacts in the world, or are they just
[ash_b]: putting you know, marketing
[ash_b]: glosses out, pretending to
[sloane]: Well, Yeah, that's so crucial cause, like I. I, I think a lot of the people that
[sloane]: that we serve intend to S are people who don't trust markets at all, Uh, don't trust
[sloane]: capitalism at all. Uh, you
[sloane]: know, and like to to actually reach those people. Um, you know, you got to have like
[sloane]: a pretty f. firm empirical underpinning, Um, you know, Uh,
[sloane]: and and earn their trust, but thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us.
[samantha_duncan]: all. Thank for having these has been really fun guys. And yes, we hope we
[samantha_duncan]: can earn the trust of those inveestors. Then we can make a little dent in
[samantha_duncan]: this problem
[ash_b]: bigt, All right,
[samantha_duncan]: so we can all have a same in world,
[sloane]: big damn, big den willll. kill this problem
[samantha_duncan]: big dent,
[samantha_duncan]: cool guys. What a great way to end
[ash_b]: fabulous. Yeah,
[sloane]: I. That's so good. that's so good. Uh, I mean we got to call Is like the related
[sloane]: parties broadcast. You know what?
[ash_b]: pretty soon,
[ash_b]: pretty. so. uh, we've got our captain out for whatever our pirate out front. We' just
[ash_b]: going toy be like. You should basically assume we're conflicted on everything we do.
[sloane]: shark, Pa's like, Ah,
[ash_b]: This is
[sloane]: we be.
[ash_b]: radled with codlaxs.
[sloane]: we be represented in a loose network of collaborators.
[ash_b]: But here's the good news. that company is taking off like it is.
[ash_b]: That is real. So it's not just us putting in some random little company Net purposes
[ash_b]: is crushing it. So,
[sloane]: oh yeah, it. well and I, I think that the you know, the the role is so needed like
[sloane]: the Um to have, like you know, Rod. I mean, because like you know, having diligence
[sloane]: a bunch of you know. The I mean, I thought about paying seven thousand bucks for
[sloane]: sustainallitics. Um,
[sloane]: and like you know, I, I decided not to, because I, you know seven thousand dollars
[sloane]: is a lot of money. But but also you know, because like the a lot of the their stuff
[sloane]: kind of does it for you. And just like we were talking about, Um, it's like it's
[sloane]: hard to feel confidence in a portfolio or in a process, a piece of your process that
[sloane]: you essentially import, Um, rather than kind of kind of like, build yourself. And
[sloane]: then you know later on you could think about importing something and go Okay, how
[sloane]: does that map to what we're already doing? Um, but intellectly it's a lot easier to
[sloane]: do it that way than than to go like, Ah, Yes, the nice people at M, s. C. I,
[ash_b]: yeah, yeah, hearing you talk about spending seven thousand dollars on data reminds
[ash_b]: starting stuff is hard.
[ash_b]: Oh, do we have a ▁jiggle.
[sloane]: oh, oh, it. That's that's the wrong tickle. but yeah, starting stuff is hard. Let's
[ash_b]: starting stuff is hard. This is the part of the show where we talk about how
[sloane]: talk about it.
[ash_b]: you start stuff. It's fricking hard.
[ash_b]: And what's new? What's what's been hard this week? In the In the land
[sloane]: oh God,
[ash_b]: of Invest
[ash_b]: Veganing. I experienced it though
[sloane]: so the big thing that I've been dealing with is on boarding. Um, because you know I.
[sloane]: you experience that you experience version One point. Oh, and thank you for going
[sloane]: through that, uh,
[ash_b]: I thought it was' that bad.
[sloane]: really, um,
[ash_b]: on your side, it was hard, but on my side it felt pretty seamless.
[sloane]: Well, it's I mean, I, I think that from a standpoint of Um, like you know, I'm
[sloane]: trying to get out like a do press and do marketing and stuff like that. And and it's
[sloane]: hard to feel confident that that investment of time and effort is worth it. If like,
[sloane]: there's like a pretty solid potential that someone's going to bounce out once they
[sloane]: actually develop the intent to open an account. Um, you know, so, um, I spent a lot
[sloane]: of time over the last couple of s. Building a a Docu sign process that allows people
[sloane]: to kind of you know, with self service forms, go out and complete the questionnaire,
[sloane]: Um, and all of the forums at once in one sitting, Um, you know which which had been
[sloane]: like, Which was a nightmare. Uh, to do. By the way, I, I had not realized how hard
[sloane]: it was to work with Docu signed, or any of these E signed companies, like the Um.
[sloane]: The software is buggy. it, it. it flips out. You know, applying conditional logic is
[sloane]: a mess. sometimes,
[sloane]: um, you know, and like, thank God, I, my partner as a software engineer and is good
[sloane]: at computer because I was like. I literally. At one point, maybe two or three days
[sloane]: ago, I was like so desponded and I was like I'm the worst person ever.
[sloane]: No one will ever open an account here. Uh, and then you know, Clair C got on and and
[sloane]: smooth it out and loan. Behold, while I was doing that, somebody who I have not
[sloane]: spoken to yet opened an account. Um,
[ash_b]: That's nus. That's a sign product market fit.
[sloane]: that's a sign. Yep, Pro Market fit exactly. So what's up? Uh, what's up in your Uh?
[sloane]: many enterprises? Uh, you know, hard hard things wise.
[ash_b]: you know it. It was a hard week. Uh, and the thing about building companies is here's
[ash_b]: the thing that's interesting when it's really hard. like truly hard, a little bit
[ash_b]: like I had this week. You can't talk about it because
[ash_b]: it's too hard.
[sloane]: Yeah, fair fair,
[ash_b]: That's the fascinating figure about this space right, because you know there, there
[ash_b]: is a component of building things where
[ash_b]: you have to continue with the momentum of success
[ash_b]: and anything that kind of tarnishes that momentum. you need to. um,
[ash_b]: you know, find a way to position. We've learned a lot yet we failed there, but we
[ash_b]: pivoted and now we understand and like, I'll admit that this week was like a brutal
[ash_b]: week for for some of
[ash_b]: the stuff that I I've been working on, I wont tell,
[ash_b]: maintain the mo momentum in that thing,
[ash_b]: but it's the other part of that it. It's very humbling by the way, like as you're
[ash_b]: experiencing and not humbling. Like the. I just want an award and I don't know what
[ash_b]: to say, so I say I'm humbled. I mean humbled
[ash_b]: like wow. I don't think I'm as good at this as I thought it'. That kind of humbling
[sloane]: do I even know anything?
[ash_b]: exactly? Does anybody appreciate me? Um, look, I, I, I think
[sloane]: I appreciate you, Ashby,
[ash_b]: thank you and we are trying to build something you know. Um,
[ash_b]: So so I think Like that is hard. And and that's the part of building this stuff where
[ash_b]: you're like, you have to be ready for those negatives and you have to be ready to
[ash_b]: swallow it and go back to people and say yes. We're still. We're still going great,
[ash_b]: you know, even if in the back of
[ash_b]: their mou your mind, you, ha, you have a few more doubts than maybe you did. Um, and
[ash_b]: that, I think that's the part that like some people look at and say, is that
[ash_b]: disengenuous. I don't think it is. I've come to terms with the fact that like when
[ash_b]: you're trying to solve a big problem, which I think you and I are generally, you're
[ash_b]: going to come across these moments where like you might not be the perfect person to
[ash_b]: solve every problem. And
[ash_b]: so you need help. And so part of getting help is maintaining the momentum so you can
[ash_b]: enlist people. And so you know that
[ash_b]: that's just an interesting thing I think I've come to terms with over the last six
[ash_b]: years. That, like you have these incredible hard things
[ash_b]: and you need to find a way to talk about those hard things in that like keep the
[ash_b]: momentum going. So
[sloane]: yup, Yup, That's so true and so real. I mean like I. I, I think, like you know with
[sloane]: with building like you know a brick in Mo. Like not not brick and Mort, but like a,
[sloane]: you know a business that is not about you know. picking which public companies
[sloane]: didn'tvest Um, you know there is like, uh, I guess you know. Uh, A lot more happens
[sloane]: under the veil
[sloane]: you know what I mean. And and like the, If you're legitimately trying, I mean if
[sloane]: you're out, you' trying to like slightly refine ad tech.
[sloane]: Uh, you know or whatever you know, I, the. then
[ash_b]: that that noise
[ash_b]: is perfect for that the attack
[sloane]: yeah, it.
[ash_b]: innovators. Like what
[sloane]: Yeah, it's I mean. it's a colossal waste of time. I mean from a f.
[sloane]: from like a Yeah, for get, but like if you're out you're trying to. Do you know? an
[ash_b]: society perspective?
[sloane]: element of like pure. I, I mean, actually, I, You know a company I'll talk about
[sloane]: that is in the Uh. investing in portfolio went public
[sloane]: today, Uh, November seventeenth, Uh, or through Sp, um, Ginko Bioworks, Um, is a the
[sloane]: kind of programmable sales company Um, You know, so they started an M. I, t founded
[sloane]: by this like legendary guy. Um, you know five person founding team. It's great. One
[sloane]: of the reasons that it's in the portfolio and then I really love them is that they
[sloane]: were incredibly candid about how much their shit socked five years ago. Um, you
[sloane]: know, and like the Y, you know, like in a ▁q and a they'. Like what. Let's someone
[sloane]: ask them what's the hardest thing that you've You've dealt with Um. and the c e o
[sloane]: was like. Well, there is that molement where everyone almost ▁quit.
[ash_b]: yeah, yeah,
[sloane]: you know, and like the, and that candor that realism is so appreciated in. you know,
[sloane]: Uh, like assessing. you know management, you know at at this stage, but like at the
[sloane]: you know the stage they were at four years ago, I'm sure it was like a huge problem
[sloane]: because you know they, they could have had. Yeah, I mean, there was sort of a go
[sloane]: nogo decision that investors were making, you know as they went around to to you
[sloane]: know, kind of uh, raise another round.
[sloane]: you know, in another two or three rounds, you know, and um, Yeah, it's like a part
[sloane]: and parcel of the journey. I guess uh,
[ash_b]: it is my last comment before we move to the next segment is is I often hear people
[ash_b]: say. Oh, so long as you know the destination, you know. that doesn't matter the
[ash_b]: journey. You' going toerate and piv it and fail and you' going to get there and I
[ash_b]: think that's complete bullshit. I think so long as you kind of have a core
[ash_b]: understanding of the problem in the world that you're going after you should be open
[ash_b]: to solving that problem in any number of ways and expressing it across different
[ash_b]: industries, because
[ash_b]: building stuff is fricking hard, and so, so
[ash_b]: long as you find the problem you're passionate about working on, continue to iterate
[ash_b]: and pursue it and be open to the fact that the destination may actually be in an
[ash_b]: entirely different lane, then you thought it's not just navigating towards a single
[ash_b]: destination, navigating with an open mind. And a problem statement?
[sloane]: really well said Yeah. You're not like Babe Bruth. Like pointing your bat in at left
[sloane]: field and then like you know, churning it out exactly
[ash_b]: Exactly? No idea where you're going?
[sloane]: where it goes. You're you. you're grinding.
[sloane]: Um. Now it's time for some deeper questions.
[sloane]: Uh, it's time for you. Actually, this is when we answer questions from our beloved
[sloane]: audience. Um, the source of wonderful guest recommendations, Um, and great questions
[sloane]: that we take very seriously. So um, if you are one of those people and you have a
[sloane]: burning question, or even I don't know? Maybe that burning. maybe itchy question or
[sloane]: like, Uh, like a, I don't know. like a. A. A pleasing question. Who knows? Um, but
[sloane]: email it to us. It's uh, free money pod at G, mail dot com, Um, or you know,
[sloane]: Obviously you have our other email addresses. Uh, and stuff, Just reach out to us
[sloane]: that way, Um, and you know I mean like well, I'm doing this kind of uh,
[sloane]: housekeeping, uh, pure segment. I will just say you know there's a. There are these
[sloane]: places where you can rate potcasts and Uh, not not to ten good looking people have
[sloane]: already rated the Pi the Free Money podcast five stars. Um, you know, so that,
[ash_b]: a lot of people are talking about the itchy questions segment.
[sloane]: yeah, yeah, yeah, exactly. I mean. This is actually, I'm sure someone has hichy
[sloane]: about this. Uh. The Chinese government caused the letter, added it by cracking down
[sloane]: on foreign shair listing. Um, And you know this is something that. like all of the
[sloane]: uh, so many
[sloane]: folks you been talking about for years, it finally happened. our pensions selling
[sloane]: their Chinese stocks And should they be?
[ash_b]: I love the word Odjita. It's a word my mom uh, uh uses frequently. I had to like.
[ash_b]: Remind myself with that meant for a second there. Um,
[ash_b]: you know, it's not as much as I thought. I thought we would see a lot of activity
[ash_b]: with respected China. First off, like when Uh. Bengman stepped down from from
[ash_b]: Cowpers. A lot of that was around pressure around China coming from Congress. Um.
[ash_b]: because cowpers is part of the index, like was allocated into some of these companies
[ash_b]: that many people on the kind of right side of Congress were frustrated with, and and
[ash_b]: thought we shouldn't be investing in Um. Then you know, then there was like the whole
[ash_b]: anti p o being withdrawn, Um, a An. And for those that don't know is a very big tech
[ash_b]: company had, like, uh, a high flying I P. O promise. like very prominent American
[ash_b]: investors, including Silver Lake, Um, are are in it. which means there's pension
[ash_b]: funds in it. you know. And so you would have thought that like these activities would
[ash_b]: push pension funds to kind of come out publicly and and reconsider their China
[ash_b]: allocation. I haven't seen it. I honestly haven't seen it, because you know all,
[ash_b]: especially in the U. S. many of our public plans are just too desperate for
[ash_b]: performance. They can't look at a market like China, you know, on its path to being
[ash_b]: the world's biggest economy,
[ash_b]: Um, and and ignore it you. just it's like. Unfortunately, no matter your views on
[ash_b]: China and what's going on there, the the economic um, need to generate the
[ash_b]: performance requires you to have an exposure there.
[sloane]: Yep. And by the way, it's like forty percent of the index, the Emacyrg market
[ash_b]: Yeah, exactly,
[sloane]: index, Um, you know, so like the you know to be to be to sit out on that would be
[sloane]: quite noticeable to a lot of people. And
[ash_b]: people don't like to
[ash_b]: deviate from peers Either, that's the way you get
[sloane]: Yeah, it
[ash_b]: you get fired in the in the pension industry.
[sloane]: exactly the kind of career risk that everyone loves. Um, you know, and but like I,
[sloane]: you know, I guess it's a great segway and this other question, you know we. we
[sloane]: didn't do it all the way today on the Great Seways by accident, but today,
[sloane]: Uh, you know, I mean the performance has been good this year. Um,
[ash_b]: I've heard that.
[sloane]: you know, a lot of people are up thirty percent When Alicia was was on the On the
[sloane]: Pocast a couple of episodes ago, she was like, Look, I mean, peing, the big story.
[sloane]: Is this this performance? What are people going to do about it? Um? And so the
[sloane]: question, Uh, maybe someone listened to that episode. Um. Lots of pensions are
[sloane]: fully funded. What should they do now?
[ash_b]: they should immediately lower their expected return target immediately. I'm serious.
[sloane]: I thought you might say that,
[ash_b]: It's like the it. It is the equivalent of hiding money from politicians. When
[ash_b]: politicians look at pension plans that are fully funded. they're like Well, let' stop
[ash_b]: putting money in there. and uh, let's go and invest in schools, which isn't a
[sloane]: yup, yep,
[ash_b]: reasonable thing to do.
[ash_b]: Um, you know, but it just puns down into the future a lot of these. Um. you know,
[ash_b]: these pension liabilities and so the the mechanism here of funding Um. Not many
[ash_b]: people realize that there's the asset base, but then we project that asset base into
[ash_b]: the future right according to expected returns, and we use that expected return to
[ash_b]: calculate the amount of liability. If the expected return number is high, it makes
[ash_b]: the liability appear smaller in present dollar terms, Because we are assuming we
[sloane]: M. mhm,
[ash_b]: can generate higher performance with that pool of capital we have today. If we lower
[ash_b]: expected return a little bit, then we, that pool of capital we're sitting on today
[ash_b]: doesn't quite get as big in the future, which means we can say things like, Oh, we're
[ash_b]: not fully funded. The
[ash_b]: Canadians have used this mechanism in credibly well for a long time, they ratch it
[ash_b]: down the expected return target, and by the way as they're doing so, they're de
[ash_b]: risking the planed liabilities And so you'll see
[ash_b]: a lot of plans like in real terms getting quite low,
[ash_b]: Um, you know, four and a half percent, five percent, Um, that might actually be
[ash_b]: nominal terms. In certain cases, um, where you know, they don't even need to take
[ash_b]: that much risk anymore in order to have a fully funded pension plan, And that's kind
[ash_b]: of what we should want. You know.
[sloane]: that's the dream. Yeah,
[ash_b]: That's the dream. So, and the interesting thing, Maryland is doing this right now? So
[ash_b]: Maryland is taking Um, a a page out of the Canadian play book here. And they are you
[ash_b]: going to lower the dis the discount rate. Weller They expect to return target, which
[ash_b]: will make the plan look like. In less healthy financial shape, Be cause. Now, the
[ash_b]: politicians won't be able to say we' a hundred and five percent funded. Whatever it
[ash_b]: is. I don't know. they'll have to say we're ninety seven percent funded. Um. And and
[ash_b]: so that little trick like allows the pension fund to protect itself from politicians
[ash_b]: that want to grab either like the contribution money, or um, the money in the plan
[ash_b]: itself, which is harder
[sloane]: and like for and like, from a macroprudential standpoint, that's super
[sloane]: which is brilliant, and's exactly what our friends at the Bank of International
[sloane]: Settlements want investors to be doing.
[sloane]: You know, Um, like the, rather than just kind of keeping risk in a continuous place,
[sloane]: regardless of Uh. of broader conditions, Um, this one is like. I think a question
[sloane]: that everyone, whether or not they vocalized it, Uh, is thinking to some degree, Um,
[sloane]: I'm preparing for a future as a climate refugee. Um, assuming I can't afford a
[sloane]: remote ranch in new, ▁zealand, like certain billionaires, What should I do?
[ash_b]: I think you should just figure out where the climate hazards are going to be the
[ash_b]: worst in twenty fifty. And and and there are you know? there's a bunch of tools out
[ash_b]: there now that help individuals. Um,
[ash_b]: you know, kind of figure that out. It. it's hard. I mean it's a lot of work that I've
[ash_b]: done myself over the years trying to figure this stuff out, but you know you wa to
[ash_b]: avoid areas that are goingnna have high, um
[ash_b]: forest fire risk, Um, high wind from hurricane flooding. Like if you have a basement,
[ash_b]: you should just you know, make sure you're in a place that isn't go to have high
[ash_b]: flood risk. So basically I, it. it's not so much in my experience, the like. Oh, I
[sloane]: Mhm, Yp,
[ash_b]: got to go to new. ▁zealand, Um. It's a much more local question like actually
[ash_b]: doesn't matter that I, I live in Florida. If M, my first floor is empty
[ash_b]: and I have the proper materials in my home to protect myself from extreme wind. You
[ash_b]: know like
[ash_b]: obviously, Florida's goingnna have a lot more hurricanes. but there are things you
[ash_b]: can do to to reduce the projected damages Incredibly, so I don't think you need to
[ash_b]: like completely, pick up and move to Alaska. Although,
[ash_b]: um, you know, I'm sure some people are like going to be that extreme about it. I
[ash_b]: think you need to be very thoughtful in thing about things like floodpains, and you
[sloane]: y, y,
[ash_b]: where you're located. Visa V, the forest,
[ash_b]: Um, you know that low like everybody always said, Like location, location location,
[ash_b]: but I don't think people ever thought about that in the context of like, what is the
[ash_b]: earth? Goingnna throw at me?
[sloane]: you like preparing for
[sloane]: apocalypse? Yeah, the
[ash_b]: yeah, but I think you can live. I mean, Obviously, if you're in like the Gulf coast
[ash_b]: of Louisiana, like you're in trouble, you're in trouble like
[sloane]: y, yeah, probably probably move. Yes,
[ash_b]: you know you, you probably need to float. It needs to be a floating home. Um, but
[ash_b]: other than that I think just really being thoughtful about the location and making
[ash_b]: sure that you're in a place that doesn't project these hazards out in a terrible way.
[sloane]: yup. uh. yeah. I think that's a very chill approach to it, cause obviously you can
[sloane]: go like you said. move up to an extreme place you know. Um. but yeah, simply being
[sloane]: fifteen feet above you know sea level in a place where everyone else is
[sloane]: below sea level. Um, I, you know, I think it's a pretty good way to start planning.
[sloane]: Um. That takes us to our concluding segment, which is what everyone really listens
[sloane]: to this podcast for
[ash_b]: they hit fast forward for this
[sloane]: they, No, what we talking about? What? What's your garden tip this week?
[ash_b]: sor. Oh, sorry, they listen all the way and then they're excited about. but they
[sloane]: Uh, oh, yeah. Right,
[ash_b]: stick around. Oh, they stick around for the garden tip. I should say it's not fast
[sloane]: yeah, oh, I. yeah, they fast for Through all the bullshit we just threw it though,
[ash_b]: exactly to get our garden tip. do, je,
[ash_b]: uh, what is your garden tip? Do, your, um. That's the garden tip of the day. Okay,
[ash_b]: I'll have that.
[ash_b]: sorry. That's why. doub. a double joke. Uh, great. so I think my garden
[sloane]: great movie.
[ash_b]: tip do you is related to my fig tree,
[ash_b]: because I keep going down there to figure out when my figs are ready to be eaten.
[ash_b]: because I keep going down there to figure out when my figs are ready to be eaten.
[ash_b]: And the fascinating thing is you can. I now know, because I picked one this week.
[ash_b]: It's just like when they look gross and they're drooping down and you're like Oh, Now
[ash_b]: like it's It's like they're these little green. You know tout figs that if you
[ash_b]: actually eat tastes horrific. I made the mistake trying that out.
[sloane]: mm, mm,
[ash_b]: Um. but the minute they go droopy,
[ash_b]: Um, and they, you know answer starting to like. Try to get excited about them. It.
[ash_b]: It's like the most amazing fruit. and uh, and so that's like it reminds me in the
[ash_b]: terms of gardening tips. like, Really, as you plant things, spending some time to
[ash_b]: understand, especially food when you should be harvesting. Um, because
[ash_b]: I, I'm looking outside at my apple tree. Some apples on there. I have no clue when to
[ash_b]: pull that apple off of there. Actually
[ash_b]: know, cause it's like a green apple. I don't really know when it's ready.
[sloane]: Yup, Yeah, we've got cucumbers that we that I like. I totally forgot about. and like
[sloane]: if you leave a cucumber on the vine too long, it becomes disgusting.
[sloane]: Um, that's huge. Yeah, the I mean, I. I. I think you know, I'll just uh, I guess for
[sloane]: my tip this week, you know kind of retreat. Your thing about listening to the
[sloane]: insects. Um, you know, uh, because like the. I mean, one of the biggest indicators
[sloane]: for me of when, like my strawberries are ready to to to take. And you know we've got
[sloane]: these. These bushes are now remarkably productive. They're just spitting out berries
[sloane]: left and right. Uh, and they kind of do it in like trashes, So you know you'll get
[sloane]: like a a fist full of strawberries on once. Um,
[sloane]: it's fucking
[sloane]: awesome. It's the coolest thing. Everybody should grow strawberry plants. Um, but
[ash_b]: sounds fantastic
[sloane]: the, but usually like the I, you know at the beginning I was too so excited to get a
[sloane]: strawberry because you know you're not actually supposed to get a strawberry from
[sloane]: plant you, Jeff. Just planet, It's supposed to take them like a while to establish,
[sloane]: Um that I would always harvest them early. Um, but now I. I. I wait until the
[sloane]: insects have taken one or two of them, Um, and the birds, and then then the the
[sloane]: product is so much better.
[ash_b]: that we almost planned this. We didn't plan it, but it almost sounds to listeners
[ash_b]: like we did
[ash_b]: gardening. tip of the day. Pay attention to the flora and the fauna around your fruit
[sloane]: Yp, yeah, no,
[ash_b]: rather than just staring at the fruit itself.
[sloane]: yeah, yeah, I, I mean
[ash_b]: Good, tip.
[sloane]: I. That's so big. I mean good tip and well, And and like the insects, are you know
[sloane]: they're smart? They're like you know. they've got. They got instincts that have been
[sloane]: honed over generations.
[sloane]: Um, but that about does it for us today, I
[sloane]: think, um,
[mediaboard_sounds]: lookingment from Minum is
[mediaboard_sounds]: than remember,
[mediaboard_sounds]: Then I go ra on