What can (senior) investment professionals do in their private capacity?

As with all change initiatives, there is a strong personal change component to becoming a universal owner and this is especially true for senior executives and the board of directors. This section is relevant to asset owners and investment managers & related commercial investment service providers – even if your firm won’t endorse universal ownership yet, you can take a personal stand.

  1. Read a book about universal ownership (eg. Moving Beyond Modern Portfolio Theory: Investing That Matters by Jon Lukomnik and James Hawley). Even better, start a book club with open-minded/concerned colleagues & peers – progress depends on both internal but also external alliances (see C).

  2. Select the systemic risk that you personally care most about and search out what well informed but progressive “positive maverick” experts are saying. There’s a good chance that they won’t be in your normal reading pile! And do a basic course in systems thinking if you aren’t familiar with the recent developments.

  3. Talk to your child/spouse/best friend about what’s happening in the world, 1-2 they are are really concerned about and tell them what you are or thinking of doing in your day job that might help. Remember: the Elephant really matters, especially when things get tough, or even just to deal with the challenge of making universal ownership relevant on “Monday morning.”

  4. Donate to The Shareholder Commons, Preventable Surprises, Client Earth or related group to support their work on universal ownership or related developments (eg forceful stewardship or legal action). These organisations are key to Shaping the Path.

  5. Vote on the proxy resolutions of the shares you hold in your personal accounts. This will help you understand how fund managers and proxy advisers are responding and learning by doing is often the best strategy.

  6. Practice talking about universal ownership to colleagues & peers. When you feel safe enough – there’s always more to learn so don’t keep putting it off – move on to social/mainstream media. Also engage (in your personal capacity) with legislators/regulators whenever you have the opportunity to bring it up. Focus on examples to make it relevant to your & their “day job”. Use evidence AND worldview/values-based arguments – remember Rider & Elephant are both needed. Don’t run from challenging high-profile and vocal sceptics. You probably won’t convince them but because they influence others and the silence of (senior) professionals who say they are UO friendly tends to imply that these critics are right. Explain why alpha that comes at the expense of beta is a disservice to clients and beneficiaries.

  7. Support global initiatives that raise the regulatory standards for the high impact sectors that have anti-social business models. For example, sign the Fossil Fuel Nonproliferation Treaty – currently they have leaders from every sector except from finance & the corporate world!