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As the climate-divestment movement takes off, Green America has been proud to launch our Fossil-Free investing Web page and publish a whole issue of our Green American magazine devoted to divesting. In our research for these materials, we learned about a new fossil-free investing index launched by Krull & Company, long-term members of our Green Business Network.
We asked Pete Krull to tell us more about the index, responsible investing, and his green plans for the future...
Green America: What does your business do?
Pete Krull: In a nutshell, Krull & Company helps you align your investments with your values – and we’ve been doing it since 2004. We’re an investment management firm, working with individuals, businesses and non-profits. We are located in Asheville, NC, but we have clients all over the country. And, we’ve been proud members of Green America for 8 years! Visit us at www.investwithyourvalues.com or call 877-235-3684.
Can you tell us about your new fossil-free index and other ways you are green?
Pete: We are proud and excited to now offer The Green Sage Sustainability Index. It’s a fossil-fuel free index of 30 US stocks focused on the areas of alternative energy, energy conservation and efficiency, and water technologies. The minimum entry into the portfolio is $50,000, and it’s open to individuals, IRAs and retirement plans, and non-profit endowments. It was inspired by a friend and client who owns Asheville’s premiere organic and Fair Trade coffee shop, The Green Sage Coffeehouse. Contact us to learn more about it.
In addition, we offer five socially and environmentally responsible mutual fund portfolios that are more diversified and work on the philosophy of shareholder advocacy to help our clients be positive agents of change.
|Krull & Company's new Green Sage Sustainability Index is a fossil-free index of 30 US stocks focused on clean energy, conservation and efficiency, and water.|
What do you think of the current “climate divestment movement” overall?
Pete: I’m very optimistic for the future! Socially and environmentally responsible investing is the fastest growing segment of the investment industry. I say this constantly: our biggest opportunity is education – educating people that you can invest with your values, use your money to change the world, and get a competitive return.
I think the climate divestment movement is very important. It is raising people’s awareness that it does matter how you invest, whether you choose to divest or be shareholder activists.
Do you have any cautions for investors who want to go fossil-free?
Pete: Being in the investment business means that there are always going to be tough decisions. I’m a pragmatist, but also a fiduciary. I work to give my clients the best opportunity to be change agents with their money, balance risk versus return and reach their financial goals.
Part of the problem with going fossil-fuel free is that you give up your seat at the table when it comes to shareholder advocacy. So, it really comes down to a client’s choice – is it more important to be completely free of that investment, or would you rather have your shares work for change. I can help facilitate both.
Still, I see no compelling reason why fossil-fuels are a must-have in any portfolio -- especially if you're a long-term investor. With the onset of peak oil, and inevitable regulatory changes related to climate change and their reluctance to diversify into alternative energy, I don't think it makes sense to invest in these dinosaurs.
What did you do before you started your green business?
Pete: I started out my financial services career with Merrill Lynch. Even though they provided great training, there was something missing. In 2004, I had the opportunity to spend an afternoon with renowned green architect and Cradle to Cradle author Bill McDonough. His inspiring message along with a desire to break out on my own were a powerful combination. About the same time I was dating Dr. Melissa Booth (now my wife,) who studies microbes and the environment, and we had some long discussions about business, responsibility, the environment and how to put them all together. The result was Krull & Company.
What advice would you give to other green entrepreneurs just starting out?
Pete: When I left Merrill and started my firm, the idea was to offer socially responsible investments as an option for clients. Not long into the business, I realized that I didn't want social responsibility to be optional – all we were going to offer were responsible investments. Once I did that, I felt better about the firm and people began to seek me out because of our niche. Moral of the story is if you’re going to go green, go green!
What does a coffee farm in Guatemala have to do with Krull & Company? The farm flourishes because a prominent grocery store chain established a policy to purchase only Fair Trade coffee — the very same chain whose stock is owned in a mutual fund specifically chosen for Krull & Company investment portfolios.
What has been your proudest moment as a green business owner?
Pete: I love what I do! The most rewarding part of my job is the great clients and business associates I get to work with. They are interested and interesting; they care about the environment and people around them; they are intellectuals, environmentalists, businesspeople and backpackers. Together, we’re changing the world.
What's the next green step you're working on right now?
Pete: We just added 6KW of solar PV on our house/office. And of course, we’re really excited about kicking the marketing of the Green Sage Sustainability Index into full gear!
What green product (besides your own!) can you not live without?
Pete: There's a new company here in Asheville called SkinFare. They make organic, coconut oil-based skin care products. Their website is skinfare.com Check them out!