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Joel Solomon on the runaway clean money movement

Co-author of The Clean Money Revolution Joel Solomon is on a mission to make a better world with the “vast amounts of money sloshing around.”

The Canadian-based author, impact investor and mission venturer (he is founding partner of Renewal Fund, which has $200 million in assets under management) has been in Australia this week spruiking his message that calls for the “reinvention of power, purpose and capitalism, that will generate the biggest money making opportunity in history.”

The book is split into three parts, the first being his personal journey, the second a personal taxonomy of what’s now known as the impact investment space, and the third part is a call to action – what he says is our “ethical and moral imperative”.

“There’s enough money in the world to solve all the problems. It’s about having the will to do so,” he told The Fifth Estate.

“There’s plenty of ways to solve and reinvent and its urgent to reinvent so there’s a better place for future generations.”

And he says the shift in investment is already happening, by and large.

A 2018 report from Arabella Advisors showed nearly 1000 institutional investors with $6.24 trillion in assets have committed to divest from fossil fuels, up from $52 billion from four years prior.

“Now more than ever, citizens are critically evaluating if their money – whether through super funds, bank accounts or insurers – is supporting causes that do good rather than harm,” Solomon says.

But why now? Solomon says that people have suddenly woken up to the impact human civilisation is having on the environment.

He says science and widespread access to this information has been key, with people now recognising the “limits to the ability of the ecosystem to sustain mindless damaging growth,” as well as a growing “justice crisis”.

“Globally, there is an undeniable feeling of frustration with society’s governing bodies regarding and the management of modern life’s most pressing issues – with climate change the most obvious example,” he says.

Australian millennials are set to inherit $3 trillion previously held by boomers in the next decade. That is a huge shift of power

Millennials are also proving to be a driving force behind this movement.

“Australian millennials are set to inherit $3 trillion previously held by boomers in the next decade. That is a huge shift of power, and if harnessed correctly, it can be mobilised into an incredibly impactful, peer-driven movement.

He said many traditional players “rolled their eyes” at impact investors in the early days, and when the movement showed no signs of slowing started “paying attention, and then pushed back”.

They’ve since started adapting and adopting. “Name your sector, and they’ve started changing.

“The finance sector is realising this in a big way.”

He says there’s a new wave of entrepreneurs, largely disenchanted by the status quo, who are now producing a new wave of products and services.

On top of that, incumbents are being forced to change their ways because it’s becoming harder to prove “why some really useless and damaging product should keep being purchased”.

“Consumers have more information and are finding out more than they could ever have found out.”

Every industry is having to examine its practises, even those traditionally difficult to defend from an ethical perspective.

“Even mining corporations are trying to figure out how to be better workplaces, everyone is trying to do something now.”

So what does he have to say to people thinking about making a difference with their money?

He says to “ask questions” and “get better informed”.

“Sort through the banks, sort through the investment advisors, pensions… make choices that move closer to your values.”

“And look for people speaking intelligently about these challenges rather than brushing them under the rug and saying they don’t exist and everything is fine.”

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