Lori Heaford uncovers Parrott’s passion for punk.
Julian Parrott is an interesting man: an independent financial adviser specialising in ethical investment; a keen activist in the development of ethical finance; and a punk. If the punk era taught us anything, it’s the value of getting involved to make a difference – and Julian Parrott is doing just that.
Julian lived in birthplace London and Gibraltar before moving to Scotland aged 10. As a teenager in Dunfermline, Fife, in the 1970s punk rock enabled him to make sense of social issues such as unemployment and industrial unrest, the Vietnam War and nuclear threat, class divides and racism. As Julian says, genuinely political bands like The Clash pioneered “left-wing thinking for a generation”. It’s certainly shaped the course of his life so far.
With a degree in Business Studies from Napier College, Edinburgh, Julian joined Dunfermline Building Society, in time becoming branch manager and relocating to his current home, Perth. The fit wasn’t quite right though – too much schmoozing – so he switched to the life and pensions side of the industry in the 1990s.
It was a pretty grim period to be in financial sales – targets were all-important, irrespective of the quality of the advice. Nobody thought about the ethics of how money was invested. After a decade of being immersed in such cynical financial practice, Julian wanted a way to align his work with his political values.
His burgeoning interest in ethical investment led him to join the Ethical Investment Cooperative (EIC) in Edinburgh, which offered a regulatory umbrella to five sole-trader advisers working in different parts of Scotland. But, although the idea was great, there was no unity among the advisers’ business models.
So in 2005, together with colleague Martin Wight, Julian set up Ethical Futures – an ethical company that helps people plan for their futures. A core value of the company is doing right by its clients, even if that means forgoing immediate income. And its purist approach is proving popular – Ethical Futures advises only on ethically-screened investments, with no mainstream unscreened funds at all, yet its business is both profitable and stable.
His involvement in ethical investment doesn’t stop there, though. Not only does he liaise with leading NGOs in Scotland, but he also chairs the national Ethical Investment Association (EIA), where he helps steer adviser activities, and sits on the board of directors of UKSIF (the UK Sustainable Investment and Finance association), where he has strategic influence over the future direction of the ethical finance debate.
Julian shares his home with his wife Catherine, deputy head of a local state primary school, and two cats named Bella (after Belladrum festival in Inverness) and Skye (after a visit there, to carbon-offsetting company Future Forests’ plantation, Rebel Wood, established in honour of early backer Joe Strummer).
A fan of both films and music, Julian’s tastes are, unsurprisingly, left-field. Musically, it’s a varied mix, from bebop to dub reggae – not forgetting ‘old skool punk’, of course. He gets to gigs when he can and watches art house cinema – though you can forget the popcorn, nachos and hotdogs, they’re his pet hate.
Making the most of living in Scotland, Julian also takes his mountain bike out regularly and enjoys the occasional round of golf.
Though he has achieved a lot, Julian’s quick to point out that there’s much left to do. As a minimum 40 to 50 percent of all invested funds in the UK should operate under an ethical mandate – currently just 1 to 2 percent do. Globally, Julian warns of the risk of ethical standards becoming diluted to enable investment in China and other developing nations.
Happily, ethical investment is evolving, with growing interest from fund managers in both thematic and enviro-technology funds. Ethical considerations are becoming increasingly mainstream. But, for Julian, we still need to pay more attention to social and human rights issues, by creating mechanisms that develop investment towards social and community enterprise, giving people real control over their own lives.
In Ethical Futures, Julian has created a sustainable and replicable business model. He’s pleased that, with rising public enthusiasm, he is able to offer clients a wide range of ethical investment options to meet their needs. Speaking of Ethical Futures, Julian tells me: “It’s really satisfying to be able to make a living doing something that you believe in on your own terms. We are convinced that with good advice you really can make your money change your world.”
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.