Rob Steadman discusses apathy, the future, and having the best of both worlds with Lee Smythe, the managing director of Smythe & Walter Chartered Financial Planners.
Apathy and denial are the twin nemeses of sustainable living. For years, some politicians and scientists have tried to stall change by downplaying and avoiding the most threatening issue of our time – climate change.
Arguably this attitude has filtered down to the general public, but deep down “people are good” affirms Lee Smythe.
“Comparatively speaking the ethical investment market is still small…but it is possible to have the best of both worlds”, he begins.
Smythe & Walter is one of only 300 or so firms with the Chartered Financial Planner (CFP) title in the UK. They promote an ethos of “openness, ethics, integrity, and putting the clients’ wishes first”.
Based in London, and serving much of the South East, Smythe & Walter are a fairly young firm, offering a combination of fee and commission-based services.
They provide independent advice across a range of sectors and put great emphasis on their “transparent” way of business and high integrity.
“We started up a year ago, and we wanted to establish a company that would be ready for new challenges that our industry will throw at us”, Smythe explains.
“We are proud to have CFP status as not only do we work with our own set of ethics but also adhere to those enforced by the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII).”
“We want to give our clients choice”
When asked about the company’s approach, he revealed, “We want to give our clients choice. When they come to us some have either a very specific ethical agenda and know what they don’t want, or they have no agenda at all and just want what is best for them.
“It’s then when we make every effort to make them aware that there are ethical options available to them.”
Smythe points out that people are fundamentally ethically-minded.
“We don’t ever have anyone say ‘I want my money putting into something unethical’, when we tell them that there is a more ethical choice they are usually very pleased.”
Making the ethical choice may sound appealing but at the end of the day, people want what’s best for them, so is there a compromise?
“There can be. It’s no secret that there are better options. However, we make a real effort to make people aware of what is available ethically speaking.
“There is a broad range; solar and bio power for example offer great returns with appealing tax breaks, with the obvious benefits to green energy sector.”
The times are changing. Indeed there used to be a trade-off, whereby one would have to ignore ethical and environmental issues reap to financial gain. Nowadays it makes sense to invest ethically, with more and more major companies seeking to lower their carbon footprint.
Ethical investment is booming in the UK with more people concerned about where their money goes and what is done with it. Smythe has recognised this.
“There are a small percentage of people who are very clear that they don’t want their money put into tobacco or weapons, for example”, he says.
Ethical investment “is a minefield”
As many will have found, it is difficult to trace where money actually goes, and it’s easy to assume that a company is ethical. Without real homework investors could be falling foul.
“It is a minefield, and many people are shocked when they find out that certain areas of investment are linked with unethical organisations, but we offer that service to the client, that knowledge, so they can satisfy their conscience”.
Smythe & Walter have been looking ahead, anticipating what may come.
“Things like green energy are the future, and therefore represent a good investment opportunity.
“The only consequence of not investing is that it may not get you a good return on your investment, but it also will not contribute to the growth of the sector”.
In the spirit of Blue & Green Tomorrow’s approach, we asked the managing director who he would like to be stranded on a desert island with.
“It’d probably be pretty boring on a desert island” he ponders, “How about Peter Kay? Yes I’d choose Peter Kay.”
Ways Green Preppers Are Trying to Protect their Privacy
Environmental activists are not given the admiration that they deserve. A recent poll by Gallup found that a whopping 32% of Americans still doubt the existence of global warming. The government’s attitude is even worse.
Many global warming activists and green preppers have raised the alarm bell on climate change over the past few years. Government officials have taken notice and begun tracking their activity online. Even former National Guard officers have admitted that green preppers and climate activists are being targeted for terrorist watchlists.
Of course, the extent of their surveillance depends on the context of activism. People that make benign claims about climate change are unlikely to end up on a watchlist, although it is possible if they make allusions to their disdain of the government. However, even the most pacifistic and well intentioned environmental activists may unwittingly trigger some algorithm and be on the wrong side of a criminal investigation.
How could something like this happen? Here are some possibilities:
- They could share a post on social media from a climate extremist group or another individual on the climate watchlist.
- They could overly politicize their social media content, such as being highly critical of the president.
- They could use figures of speech that may be misinterpreted as threats.
- They might praise the goals of a climate change extremist organization that as previously resorted to violence, even if they don’t condone the actual means.
Preppers and environmental activists must do everything in their power to protect their privacy. Failing to do so could cost them their reputation, future career opportunities or even their freedom. Here are some ways that they are contacting themselves.
Living Off the Grid and Only Venturing to Civilization for Online Use
The more digital footprints you leave behind, the greater attention you draw. People that hold controversial views on environmentalism or doomsday prepping must minimize their digital paper trail.
Living off the grid is probably the best way to protect your privacy. You can make occasional trips to town to use the Wi-Fi and stock up on supplies.
Know the Surveillance Policies of Public Wi-Fi Providers
Using Wi-Fi away from your home can be a good way to protect your privacy.However, choosing the right public Wi-Fi providers is going to be very important.
Keep in mind that some corporate coffee shops such a Starbucks can store tapes for up to 60 days. Mom and pop businesses don’t have the technology nor the interest to store them that long. They generally store tips for only 24 hours and delete them afterwards. This gives you a good window of opportunity to post your thoughts on climate change without being detected.
Always use a VPN with a No Logging Policy
Using a VPN is one of the best ways to protect your online privacy. However, some of these providers do a much better job than others. What is a VPN and what should you look for when choosing one? Here are some things to look for when making a selection:
- Make sure they are based in a country that has strict laws on protecting user privacy. VPNs that are based out of Switzerland, Panama for the British Virgin Islands are always good bets.
- Look for VPN that has a strict no logging policy. Some VPNs will actually track the websites that you visit, which almost entirely defeats the purpose. Most obviously much better than this, but many also track Your connections and logging data. You want to use a VPN that doesn’t keep any logs at all.
- Try to choose a VPN that has an Internet kill switch. This means that all content will stop serving if your VPN connection drops, which prevents your personal data from leaking out of the VPN tunnel.
You will be much safer if you use a high-quality VPN consistently, especially if you have controversial views on climate related issues or doomsday prepping.
How Going Green Can Save Your Business Thousands
Running a company isn’t easy. From reporting wages in an efficient way to meeting deadlines and targets, there’s always something to think about – with green business ideas giving entrepreneurs something extra to ponder. While environmental issues may not be at the forefront of your mind right now, it could save your business thousands, so let’s delve deeper into this issue.
Small waste adds up over time
A computer left on overnight might not seem like the end of the world, right? Sure, it’s a rather minor issue compared to losing a client or being refused a loan – but small waste adds up over time. Conserving energy is an effective money saver, so to hold onto that hard-earned cash, try to:
- Turn all electrical gadgets off at the socket rather than leaving them on standby as the latter can crank up your energy bill without you even realizing.
- Switch all lights off when you exit a room and try switching to halogen incandescent light bulbs, compact fluorescent lamps or light emitting diodes as these can use up to 80 per cent less energy than traditional incandescent and are therefore more efficient.
- Replace outdated appliances with their greener counterparts. Energy Star appliances have labels which help you to understand their energy requirements over time.
- Draught-proof your premises as sealing up leaks could slash your energy bills by 30 per cent.
Going electronic has significant benefits
If you don’t want to be buried under a mountain of paperwork, why not opt for digital documents instead of printing everything out? Not only will this save a lot of money on paper and ink but it will also conserve energy and help protect the planet. You may even be entitled to one of the many tax breaks and grants issued to organizations committed to achieving their environmental goals. This is particularly good news for start-ups with limited funds as the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) is keen to support companies opening up their company in a green manner.
Of course, if you’re used to handing out brochures and leaflets at every company meeting or printing out newsletters whenever you get the chance, going electronic may be a challenge – but here are some things you can try:
- Using PowerPoint presentations not printouts
- Communicating via instant messenger apps or email
- Using financial software to manage your books
- Downloading accounting software to keep track of figures
- Arranging digital feedback and review forms
- Making the most of Google Docs
Going green can help you to make money too
Going green and environmental stability is big news at the moment with many companies doing their bit for the environment. While implementing eco-friendly strategies will certainly save you money, reducing your carbon footprint could also make you a few bucks too. How? Well, consumers care about what brands are doing more than ever before, with many deliberately siding with those who are implementing green policies. Essentially, doing your bit for the environment is a PR dream as it allows you to talk about what everyone wants to hear.
Going green can certainly save your money but it should also improve your reputation too and give you a platform to promote your business.