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It’s time to start making a difference, and Changemakers wants to lead the way by empowering individuals to make socially responsible investments.

sustainability at changemakers

When you think about investment firms, what images pop into your mind? Folks in suits, holding phones to both ears, standing on the floor of a building on Wall Street yelling incomprehensible things? Maybe it’s more abstract than that, and you’re imagining a cabal of shareholders conspiring to demolish a nature reserve.

Whatever you’re imagining, for many would-be investors investing has become synonymous with a profit-first, laissez faire capitalism that doesn’t consider the consequences of how it makes its money.

Changemakers is different.

To understand how, I sat down with founder Michael Tkautz to get a first-hand account on how Changemakers is making a difference in client’s pocketbooks and in their communities. 

Enjoy the interview,
Ken Wilson

The name “Changemakers,” where did it come from?

Great question. Changemakers actually has two meanings. The first is simple: making change (like money). The second meaning, and what I would say is the more important meaning is making tangible change in the world—taking action and saving tomorrow by investing today.

We also wanted our logo to reflect our vision and that’s why it’s a butterfly. They’re a changemaker as well. They start as a caterpillar, a land-bearing creature that subsists on eating leaves, but then it literally morphs and changes into a butterfly. A butterfly that is now a pollinator. So, it did a 180-degree turn. It’s no longer eating just for itself. It’s helping our ecosystem by pollinating flowers—they make such a big impact that we don’t even notice, so we take inspiration from them.

Michael Tkautz, Founder of Changemakers Financial

So, in what way is Changemakers helping with the “biodiversity” of our planet?

More of an inspiration and desire to help the biodivserty through socially responsible investing. It comes from a change in your mindset. We connect you with financial advisors with similar beliefs, and we want to make you money, but how you make that money is the difference.

So, for example, the money that you are saving for retirement, how and where that money is invested is important—and not just to your retirement. We all do our part by recycling our cardboard and plastic, by changing to LED lights, but all that hard work is undone when you then turn around and give your money to major environmental polluters.

That’s where we come in. We connect you with a responsible investment advisor that can help you make responsible investments that are good for you and for the planet. Just like you’ve made a switch from incandescent lightbulbs, it’s time to change from profit-first investors to ESG investors like us. We’re not solely focused on how to make you money today. We’re also considering how to make you money in the future, 20 or 30 years down the line.

That’s awesome! How then did this passion start? The ESG investing and wanting to make the environment a better place. There must be an origin story.

Well, wanting to make the environment and the world a better place has always been in the back of my mind. My grandmother—who’s 93 and still giving my kids chocolate around dinner time — would take me out on walks at the age of 6. We would take a walk along the country road, and we’d pick up garbage to keep the countryside nice and clean. That was probably the first moment I realized I wanted to do something with regards to the environment.

Then later in life, I started realizing that I do have this deep passion to give and do what I can to make the world a better place. But I have a family of my own now, so it’s difficult to get out in the world and clean it up like me and my grandmother used to. So obviously, since my life has changed a lot, so too do my goals need to change. How can I make a difference within the framework of my current life? How can I make a difference for my children? My kids are reaching the age to take them for that same walk

So, what I did was look to the original stewards, to Indigenous nations, and what I learned was the concept of “Seventh Generation Thinking.” This idea, as chief of the Onondaga Nation, Oren Lyon wrote: “We are looking ahead, as is one of the first mandates given to us as chiefs, to make sure and to make every decision that we make related to the welfare and well-being of the seventh generation to come.”

The idea, then, is to think far into the future before we act in self-interest. How are my actions today going to have that butterfly effect of tomorrow?

I’m sure I speak for most parents when I say, as soon as you have kids, you want to make the world a better place—you want something that they can grow up into. Not a world of crime, or poverty, or hunger. We don’t want them to grow up on a decaying planet, but on a beautiful planet that affords them opportunity and compassion. And the simple truth is that we can do that by treating ourselves and our planet and each other with compassion and respect.

Wow, so how exactly do you tie finances into this vision of a brighter and more fulfilling future?

Well, in many ways money makes the world spin – from an economic and livelihood perspective. That’s my experience at least, and I’m sure it’s the experience of many other people as well.

Unfortunately, this means the people with the most money can have the most impact. So, for us, we want to be making money for people who want to make a positive impact on the world. Making a difference, for us, starts with who we’re giving our money to.

Give money to politicians, and they’ll do what they want with it. Give your money to an asset manager, and they’ve invest in profit-first businesses, and helping to enrich shareholders who hoard wealth. We don’t want that.

How does Changemakers make positive changes? How do you target, or find, world-leading companies to invest in?

One thing we look for is companies that have meaning and purpose behind them, rather than just turning a profit. That’s where the Tripe Bottom Line (People, Planet, Profit) philosophy came from. Though, if you were to ask me, I think the order should be Planet, People, Profit.

In most cases, a responsible investment advisor you engage with will have a porftolio of ESG-focused companies who are audited by analytical companies like CSRHub, Dow Jones Sustainability World Index MSCI and others. These organizations help evaluate and mark companies based on their environment, social, and governance policies and programs

Where do you see Changemakers going in 5 years’ time?

In five years’ time, Changemakers will have transferred $10 billion from Canadians like you and me to ESG companies that are on the leading edge of positive change. After that, we will also be looking south into the U.S. to help regular Americans do the same.

What are some future goals you’re excited to achieve with Changemakers?

For Changemakers to be a platform in which you can invest money into like a financial trading platform for people to be able to make investments themselves.

At least from an institutional perspective, there’s a passive and active investor. So, I want to kind of bridge the gap to have both passive and active be able to invest on the platform AND to also work with a financial advisor. As of right now, my goal for Changemakers would be to become a recognized body that is contributing to the re-allocation of investments to cleaner and greener alternatives.

We are currently living through the largest transition of wealth in human history. Baby Boomers are aging, and they have a lot in pension plans, retirement, and savings, and they’ve been protected against the pandemic and the housing crisis—for the most part. Certainly, there are many people who did lose money, but many more were protected.

So, what happens to that money when it’s passed down to their children? That’s an important question, and the answer, I think, we already know. Millennials and Gen Z are much more aware of their environmental impact and are more dedicated to making changes and living lives that aren’t centered around money.

So, we think a platform like Changemakers, which allows them to transfer their money from these profit-first companies that are giving them climate anxiety, into cleaner alternatives is going to be something they covet.

I think we’re also going to learn something very valuable, and big profit-first businesses are going to learn this the hard way. The more we’re supporting and telling investors that they need to have an ESG policy, the more these for-profit businesses are going to need to change the way they operate. Like it can really force big corporations to change their ways of doing business, and it’s as simple as having large groups of people pulling money away from these companies if they don’t conform to ESG policy.

How does it feel to be a part of something that could potentially make the world a greener and better place?

Amazing! I mean, when you reach your older years, there’s lots of time to look back at your life and reflect on the important things you’ve accomplished. And for many of us, those things, that story is still being written, and that’s how I feel. I want to write a story where the planet is restored and seven generations from now, they’re enjoying a beautiful planet, and I can know that I had a part in that.

Honestly, it’s something that keeps me up at night, and it’s what keep me away from Netflix and things like that. My sense of worth comes from knowing that I’m helping to save the planet, and I know there will be plenty of people reading who feel the exact same way. So, in a sense, we’re all writing this story together, and through Changemakers, I want to facilitate that happy ending.

Looking for more information?

Check out our previous blog post, Are you asking your investment advisor the right questions?

Start Investing for Good and Reap the Rewards

We believe that impact investing is one of the smartest, most efficient ways to invest your money. Not only will you be doing good, but you’ll also be doing well financially.

If you want to learn more about impact investing, reach out to Changemakers. We would be happy to introduce you to some of the best minds in this growing field.

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