Abacus Wealth Partners and Aspiriant have formed a new joint venture, Align, which will offer philanthropic strategy and impact investment portfolios to clients and their financial advisors.
Jennifer Kenning, former Director of Wealth Management and spearhead of impact investing at Aspiriant, has been tapped to lead the new venture.
Align will serve as an independent specialised impact advisor to families, individuals, and foundations to help them define their most important values and desired social outcomes, and increase the effectiveness and alignment of their philanthropic grants, impact investments, and mission related investments. Align’s portfolios will aim to deliver the same risk/return profiles as the globally diversified approaches that both Aspiriant and Abacus currently take, investing in companies that are more aligned with a client’s values while avoiding those companies that are potentially harmful to the environment or society.
“Our clients are asking about social responsibility with increasing frequency yet there are far too many choices and complexities in the impact investment space for most RIA’s to stay on top of,” says Rob Francais, CEO of Aspiriant. “We decided to join forces with Abacus to have a dedicated team that specializes in impact and will know exactly what a client means when they ask about ‘stranded carbon’ or ‘social impact bonds.’”
“When clients come to a financial planner, they want to know that they have enough money to reach their personal goals,” says Brent Kessel, CEO of Abacus Wealth Partners and Align. “But once they become assured that their basic wants and needs are secure, they often look for meaning & purpose. Couple that with the giant shift of investment capital towards women and millennials, both of whom care deeply about social issues, and it’s clear that offering impact advisory services is the next evolution for the financial planning industry.”
“With the launch of the Align venture, we believe we can deliver positive impact and market-rate returns in every asset class now – stocks, bonds, private equity, alternatives and real estate, and can customise the exact type of impact the portfolio delivers to an individual’s specific preferences,” says Kessel.
“Align isn’t looking to replace a client’s existing advisor,” says Abacus President, JD Bruce. “Align’s people are impact specialists. Other professionals, such as the wealth managers at Abacus and Aspiriant, need to run financial planning projections, develop asset allocations, discuss insurance, and meet with CPA’s and attorneys. Yet, philanthropic strategy must be coordinated with tax planning, and we must set impact goals for a portfolio without losing sight of the portfolio’s acceptable level of volatility, targeted rate of return, and tax implications, which is where our background as wealth managers is extremely useful.”
“My favourite conversations with clients are those that focus on the ‘why,’” says Jennifer Kenning, Managing Director of Align. “Why are you interested in making a difference? What kinds of impact would be most meaningful and fulfilling to you? If we were sitting here in five years, what would make you feel that your life and resources had made a difference? Hearing clients’ answers to those questions totally inspires me.”