Tom Culver, then a wealth manager for ANZ, distinctly remembers the moment when he lost faith in governments and started getting the nagging feeling that something needed to be done.
“It was during the [Tony] Abbott years, when I realised that governments don’t see themselves accountable for the future of our planet and actually it’s corporations who are the most incentivised to behave more sustainably,” he said.
He was in personal turmoil that the advice he was giving to his own clients no longer aligned to his own belief — that investment in sustainable companies was more profitable in the long run.
Culver and his co-founder wife Emily Taylor decided if the private sector was to lead the way, then people needed to know which companies match their personal values and are worthy of financial support. The idea for their ethical investment startup Goodments was then born.
After 12 months of existence, Goodments was admitted in February to H2 Ventures’ current accelerator class to develop an app that uses a questionnaire to assess the preferences and priorities of an investor, then applies behavioural analytics and psychometric algorithms to match them to a share portfolio of companies that reflect similar values to the user.
Taylor told Business Insider that the current system of using purely financial data to make investment choices is deeply flawed.
“Not only is that a massively incomplete picture from a personal values point of view, but it’s not a very good financial indicator in the long term,” she said. “Sustainability data is a much better [indicator] of long term investment, because 70 to 80 percent of a corporation’s value is not held in financial data.”
“By overlaying the sustainability on the financial data, we give people a more complete picture of where their money is going.”
While the initial product — still in development in the H2 accelerator — will only use a questionnaire to assess the user’s values, future editions will see data drawn in from the user’s social media history for an even richer analysis of personal preferences.
The founders are targeting Goodments at millennials, who they say find investing “incredibly intimidating”, and self-managed super fund owners below the age of 45.
Upon its entry into the accelerator, Goodments received $100,000 in return for 10% equity and a six-month residency at Stone & Chalk in downtown Sydney. H2 Ventures has already put 25 ventures through its program, including now-household names such as HashChing, Stockspot, Equitise and Edstart.
Culver said that while Abbott is long gone as leader, the recent election of Donald Trump in the United States has evoked a sense of déjà vu.
“With most global corporates being multi-regional, they are also the ones with the most power. We are seeing history repeat itself with Trump.”