2022 Impact Report

Veris Celebrates 15 Years of Impact in our 2022 Impact Report

In this season of thanks, we are grateful to be celebrating our firm’s 15th Anniversary with the release of our 2022 Impact Report.

In this year’s Impact Report, we illustrate the positive social and environmental progress we have helped create, thanks to our wonderful clients, team, investment managers and industry partners.

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2022 Impact Report

As our CEO Stephanie Cohn Rupp writes, “Through a great recession, volatile markets, a global pandemic, and attacks against our sector steeped in deep misunderstanding, Veris has grown. We owe this to our wonderful clients who believe finance can be a force for justice and sustainability, to our talented team, and to our founders – whom I thank for making such a powerful dream a reality.”

This Impact Report also offers highlights from our history as one of the oldest independent wealth management firms with a 100% focus on authentic ESG and impact investing, our work in shareholder activism, efforts to dismantle obstacles to diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging within Veris and across the industry, and much much more. We hope you enjoy it and we welcome your thoughts.

From all of us at Veris, we wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving!

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Don't Say Gay

Veris Condemns Violence Against the LGBTQ Community

“Places that are supposed to be safe spaces of acceptance and celebration should never be turned into places of terror and violence. Yet it happens far too often. We must drive out the inequities that contribute to violence against LGBTQI+ people. We cannot and must not tolerate hate.”
– President Biden’s Statement on the Shooting in Colorado Springs 1


Veris Wealth Partners is outraged at yet another violent attack on the LGBTQ+ community and we are heartbroken for the victims. We honor the memories of the five people who were killed in the Saturday night shooting at Club Q in Colorado Springs and express our sympathy to the wounded.2

Veris firmly believes that LGBTQ rights are human rights and that violent acts like these are intended to harm not only the victims, but the entire community by destroying any sense of safety in the spaces where lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and queer people gather. We also believe that the rise of cruel anti LGBTQ rhetoric and legislation like the “Don’t Say Gay” law in Florida has contributed to a rise in violent acts against this community.3

We believe that the shocking number of mass shootings in the United States4 shows that all Americans are at risk of gun violence, but the data shows that LGBTQ individuals are particularly vulnerable – especially trans people of color.5 This cruel and cowardly act in Colorado coincided with the annual Transgender Day of Remembrance. The LGBTQ rights advocacy group Human Rights Campaign (HRC) has tracked the deaths of over 300 transgender people due to violence over the last decade and that two-thirds of those deaths were caused by gun violence.6 Before the shooting in Colorado, HRC had tracked the deaths of 32 transgender and gender non-conforming people in 2022 alone.7

We agree with the statement issued by HRC President Kelley Robinson in the aftermath of the attack in Colorado: “We must rise against hate in the strongest possible terms, we must stand together in solidarity and love with our LGBTQ+ family in Colorado Springs and demand an end to this epidemic of gun violence. From Pulse to Colorado Springs to so many other lives stolen from us— this has occurred for far too long.”8

Organizations Providing Support to the LGBTQ Community



The information above is provided for informational purposes only and reflects the views of the authors. Additionally, this document contains information derived from third party sources. Although we believe these third-party sources to be reliable, we make no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information derived from such third-party sources and take no responsibility, therefore.


Sheryl Kucer Businesswire article

Sheryl Kucer Named COO of Veris Wealth Partners

We are thrilled to welcome Sheryl Kucer to Veris as our new Chief Operating Officer.

Sheryl brings to the role over 15 years of operational and human capital experience and her deep commitment to the Veris values of social justice, racial and gender equity and environmental sustainability.

Sheryl Kucer

Sheryl’s experience will help ensure that Veris continues to innovate and evolve while remaining a leader in the impact investing movement. She most recently served as Chief Operating Officer and Chief Compliance Officer at Dyson Capital Advisors.

Sheryl said that she is excited to be joining Veris at this moment in history because “thoughtful and forward-thinking impact investment is needed more than ever” and that she is “grateful to have the opportunity to align with a firm and a client community whose values so deeply mirror my own.”

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Sheryl Kucer Businesswire article

Veris Wealth Partners Signs Onto The SME Climate Commitment to Achieve Net-Zero Emissions

Veris Wealth Partners is pleased to announce that we have formalized our longstanding goal to achieve Net-Zero carbon emissions by signing onto The Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) Climate Commitment. By making this commitment, Veris has pledged to:

  • Reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by 50% before 2030*
  • Achieve Net Zero Emissions before 2040
  • Disclose our progress on a yearly basis

Reducing our carbon footprint has been important to Veris since our firm’s inception. Long before we took this pledge, we made an internal commitment to reduce our carbon footprint and offset 100% of carbon used in our operations. We currently offset 100% of carbon emissions through fellow B Corp NativeEnergy, which uses high quality offsets certified by third parties such as the Gold Standard and Verified Carbon Registry. By signing onto the SME Climate Commitment, Veris publicly reconfirms our belief that climate change poses grave threats to the natural world, humanity, and the global economy and our conviction that all businesses have a responsibility to be part of the solution.

Net-Zero Action Steps

In accordance with our Climate Commitment, Veris will take the following action steps: Measurement – Veris will continue to measure our firm’s carbon footprint on an annual basis. Reduction – Veris will continue to seek innovative ways to reduce our emissions firmwide and adopt new practices to make progress towards our goal of net zero. Reporting – We have historically included data about our firm’s annual carbon footprint in our annual Impact Report and we will continue to do so to mark our progress.

Join the Effort to Achieve Net-Zero & Fight Climate Change

The SME Climate Commitment was designed to spur more small and medium sized organizations to take bigger steps to achieve our shared goal of emitting Net-Zero carbon emissions and is part of the United Nations Race to Zero Campaign. We believe that public accountability is a powerful tool to drive behavior change and we encourage more business leaders to join us in signing onto a Net-Zero commitment.

*Veris uses 2019 GHG emissions as the baseline year for GHG emissions to reduce by 2030.

Standing For Racial Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion

Standing For Racial Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion

By Patricia Farrar-Rivas

All of us at Veris stand in solidarity with the family of George Floyd, and the many others who have been a victim of police brutality and injustice.

The moment is upon us to realize, once again, that racial injustice isn’t an isolated event. It’s a systemic problem deeply embedded in all aspects of our society, and it is tearing us all apart.

Despite many concerted efforts to foster change, racism and inequality remain the status quo in most cities in America. When another tragic death takes place at the hands of police, we’re reminded how unequally we are treated based on the color of our skin, sexual orientation, gender, disabilities or religious preferences.

We stand with demonstrators across the country who are speaking out against racism.  And we stand by those who believe we must act now. We cannot wait any longer. Our historical behaviors and policies are no longer acceptable. 

Toward A More Just and Equitable Society

What does this mean for each of us?

It means combating racism and inequality in all forms in our personal lives and in our work. It means calling out injustice, leading by example in our communities, and raising awareness about the issues that need to be discussed openly.

At Veris, this means looking at all of our internal and external practices to identify and disrupt implicit biases. It demands that we work within our industry to maintain the commitment to racial justice, and equality at the forefront.

It also means providing financial support to organizations who can make a difference now. We’ve chosen four: Movement for Black Lives, MVP (Movement Voters Project), Equal Justice Initiative, Color of Change, Minnesota Freedom Fund, and NAACP. There are many others that deserve your support, and we urge you to give to the organizations of your choice.

Now is the time for all of us to unite and create a more just, equal and equitable society.

Veris Fights for Shareholder Engagement

Members of the Veris team, along with Veris supporters Laurie Emrich, Ellen Remmer, Caroline Gabel and Jed Sturman, recently met with the SEC to discuss rule changes that will severely restrict shareholder activism. The meeting was one of the only in-person conversations between the SEC staff and investors. This blog discusses the proposed changes.

Big Changes Afoot

The SEC is proposing a new system that will significantly limit the opportunities for non-institutional clients to exercise their shareholder rights in publicly traded companies, according to an analysis from Veris.  

Collectively, the changes would prohibit many Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) shareholder proposals from being considered or reconsidered. We believe the new rules may also hinder activist shareholders from accomplishing the dual goals of shareholder engagement and portfolio diversification.

Not surprisingly, many public companies and the Business Roundtable support the winnowing of shareholder proposals, yet most companies wouldn’t be significantly impacted. Large companies predominantly receive the majority of shareholder proposals, but even that is infrequent. On average, public companies are presented with a shareholder proposal once every seven years, according to Veris.

At Veris, we believe shareholder engagement has been very productive and effective. It brings clients into the capital markets to make their voices heard. Often, our data and research motivate companies to implement new policies, even if the resolution fails. When we engage with companies early on, corporate accountability increases. Focusing on ESG-related risk that might otherwise be ignored, we believe, ultimately improves financial performance.

It is our role – working with clients and like-minded investors – to demonstrate leadership and promote change. We will continue to collaborate with US SIF and the SEC to uphold the current rights of shareholders. We will strive to maintain a fair balance between investors and company interests. As is important, we strongly believe the rights of individual investors should not be adversely affected.

Investors Who Oppose The SEC’s Changes

Laurie Emrich, Global Fund For Women

I am a long-time advocate working in social justice philanthropy. One of my SEC-related goals is to expand shareholder access and to increase diversity – to give more people a seat at the table. The SEC’s proposed changes will shut down access from shareholders and stakeholders. Instead, the SEC should advocate for more access and more voices. Interestingly, the Business Roundtable and global leaders in Davos this year supported increased corporate social responsibility and inclusion of a much broader range of stakeholders. Importantly, that includes local community members impacted by corporate actions. Unfortunately, the SEC’s proposed changes would take these ideas in the absolute opposite direction – and as such, are unacceptable.

Ellen Remmer, Senior Partner, The Philanthropic Initiative

As a former Madoff investor who was unwittingly defrauded, I wanted to become a more educated investor. Being involved in shareholder engagement has helped me achieve that objective, and it is incredibly powerful. It helps us understand more about our portfolio and a company’s values and priorities. As someone committed to educating investors about gender and climate risk, I believe active engagement promotes a stronger capital system. The SEC proposal works against that.

Caroline Gabel, CEO, Shared Earth Foundation

I very much want my family’s philanthropy and investments to reflect our values. In leading the Shared Earth Foundation and as a member of Rachel’s Network, I support active shareholder engagement. I’m strongly opposed to loss or threatened loss of our voices as shareholders. I don’t believe shareholders should be disenfranchised at the ballot box. 

Jed Sturman, Owner TD Athletes Edge and Consultant, Partner for Growth

As someone who works in private equity and has an MBA, I am troubled by short-term corporate thinking. I would like to see shareowners create long-term shareholder value. Shareholder engagement assures that companies understand shareowners’ desires and needs – and not just the perspective of board members.

 

The information contained herein is provided for informational purposes only and reflects the opinions of the author’s which are subject to change without notice.  Comments provided by Veris clients should not be construed as an endorsement of Veris or a statement of their experience with Veris.

Gender Lens Investing: Assets Grow To More Than $3.4 Billion

Gender Lens Investing: Assets Grow To More Than $3.4 Billion

Growth In Public Products Accelerates As GLI Marks 10th Anniversary 

By Patricia Farrar-Rivas and Alison Pyott

The flow of assets in Gender Lens Investing (GLI) continues to grow rapidly.

According to a new analysis by Veris Wealth Partners, asset growth in GLI products accelerated and totaled $3.4 billion as of June 30, 2019. In our 2018 GLI analysis, we reported $2.4 billion invested in GLI products.

As important, the size of the funds continued to grow, reflecting their growing popularity among individual and institutional investors. There were 10 investment products with over $100 million and six with over $250 million as of June 30, 2019.

Our analysis also showed that the gender lens market is still primarily a North American phenomenon and that the investment focus continues to be global and US large cap equities. However, there are now eight funds open in Asia/Pacific, two funds in South America and one in Africa.

Ten years after the term Gender Lens Investing was coined by the Criterion Institute, there are now more than 50 publicly available GLI products, a 300% increase since 2015.

The GLI Impact
The growth of GLI investments continues, but the real question is how is GLI improving the lives of women and girls?

The good news is that GLI is having a real impact.

More than 50% of public GLI investment products focus predominately on women in leadership and increasing gender diversity, according to Veris. This is defined differently with each product strategy, but most often is women on boards, women in the C-suite, and women in management. The focus on leadership, coupled with increasing shareholder advocacy efforts to increase board diversity, have helped. In 2009, women comprised 16% of S&P500 boards, and today they represent 26%1. Progress, yet still a lot more work to do.

The Business Case of GLI
We believe this trend is likely to continue because there’s a very compelling business case for GLI.

McKinsey & Company’s Power of Parity Report (2015) estimates global annual Gross Domestic Product (GDP) could be $12 trillion higher if gender inequality was addressed. Diversity also produces terrific results. Over the past decade, many studies have confirmed the superior financial performance of public companies with strong female representation at the board level and in senior management.

The positive impact of GLI goes beyond greater representation at the leadership level.

Research now shows connections between higher proportions of women in leadership with increased environmental, social and governance performance.2

Investors are also looking for broader impact and product sponsors are starting to take notice.

More than 20% of public GLI investment products focus on broader gender factors, according to Veris. They include reducing the gender pay gap; increasing women in the workforce; lowering barriers to women working outside of the home; improving health and well-being; increasing employee engagement; and expanding products and services serving women.

And, a handful of funds are incorporating UNSDG goals including UNSDG #5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.

Another significant area of asset growth has been providing access to capital for women in girls. Capital flows to those initiatives are typically made by angel, venture and private equity investors. In the public markets, access to capital for women is provided primarily through CDs, CRA qualified bonds and the growing number of gender bonds.

Just the Beginning
Clearly, there is much to celebrate as GLI marks its 10th anniversary.

The brave women who dared to ask if capital markets could improve the lives of women and girls have started a movement that is increasingly gaining momentum. From a handful of investment strategies with only one CD and one mutual fund, there is now an expanding number of stakeholders who believe in the possibilities of Gender Lens Investing.

The goal for all of us is to keep pushing and demonstrating the value of GLI to an expanding universe of investors for the benefit of all.

The Veris team is especially grateful to Suzanne Biegel, Catalyst at Large and Co-Producer, GenderSmart Investing Summit for her generous collaboration, and Diana van Maasdijk, Equileap. 

12019 U.S Spencer Stuart Board Index Highlights
2Cristina Banaham and Gavrial Hasson, “Across the Board Improvements: Gender Diversity and ESG Performance” Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance and Financial Regulation, September 6, 2018

The information contained herein is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as the provision of personalized investment advice, or an offer to sell or the solicitation of any offer to buy any securities. Rather, the contents including, without limitation, any forecasts and projections,  simply reflect the opinions and views of the authors. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the authors as of the date of publication and are subject to change without notice. There is no guarantee that the views and opinions expressed herein will come to pass.

Furthermore, the information contained herein contains certain forward-looking statements, often characterized by words such as “believes,” “anticipates,” “plans,” “expects,” “projects,” and other similar words, that indicate future possibilities. Due to known and unknown risks, other uncertainties and factors, actual results may differ materially from the expectations portrayed in such forward-looking statements. Readers are cautioned not to place undue reliance on forward-looking statements, which speak only as of the date of this report. 

Additionally, this document contains information derived from third party sources.  Although we believe these third party sources to be reliable, Veris Wealth Partners makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information derived from such third-party sources and takes no responsibility therefore. 

Past performance is not an indication or guarantee of future results. Investing in securities involves risks, including the potential loss of all amounts invested.

Veris Q419

Market Recap: 2019 Finishes Strongly

By Jane Swan and Roraj Pradhananga

Positive returns in the fourth quarter helped propel all major indexes

The year started with a robust recovery from the negative returns at the end of 2018, followed by a resting period in the third quarter, and then more growth at the end of 2019. Continued moderate expansion in the economy was a tailwind for investors, with total return for both bond and stock investors at the high end of historic norms. The greatest gains were from risk asset classes (stocks, real estate, and high yield bonds). Investors in investment grade bonds were also rewarded. Within the Russell 3000 (broad index of US stocks), the strongest returns came from the largest components. Technology jumped 14.3% in the quarter and 46.7% for the year. Financials were up 7.6% in the quarter and 32.9% for the year. Every sector other than Energy (up 9.6% for the year) increased by double digits. Investors were rewarded by the almost 11-year stock market expansion, but the gains have been not evenly translated to all participants in the economy.

Since the stock market began its recovery (March 2009) and the end of the last recession (October 2009), much has changed. Unemployment has fallen from 10% to under 3.5%. Inflation remains low, currently below the target rate of 2%. Average family income (when measured using the statistical mean), has grown by 35%, which is just over 3% per year. Profits to stock owners, measured by the S&P 500, are now 498%. Companies have benefited from low interest rates, corporate tax cuts, increases in worker productivity, and in many cases, reductions in regulations.

Market Recap Q419

Uneven Gains
In statistics, there are two frequently used approaches to calculating an average (or mean) and median. In common usage, average almost always assumes use of the mean method of calculation. The process for finding the mean considers all observations and divides by the number of observations. If you have ten observations of hourly wages and nine of them reflect $10 per hour and the 10th observation reflects $500, the average hourly wage of those 10 people is $59. Using the statistical measure of median, we organize all observations in numerical order and take the mid-point observation.

In the example above, the median worker earned $10. As income inequality grows, we believe that monitoring the difference between average (mean) and median becomes an important measure of the financial strength of the workforce. This is demonstrated in the graph below.Family Income In U.S.

The green line showing the average (mean) income for families has grown at a much higher rate than the blue line, which represents median income. If the highest wages grow while other wages remain steady, the average will grow while most workers experience no change.

A recent JP Morgan report noted the differences in spending rates between families earning the highest 10% of incomes and the other 90% of U.S. families. They found that the highest earners spent just 68% of their income, while the rest of the population averages spending of 101% of income. The divide between average and median earners and the spending patterns of high and lower earners has implications on the growth rate of the broader economy. If spending rates are highest among those with the slowest growing income but low among those experiencing high rates of growth in real income, the consumer contribution to economic growth will be limited. It also has implications for the savings rates of most families.

In the years since the end of the recession, the economy has grown at an average annual rate of 2.2%. The average economic growth during expansions of the last 50 years has been 3.7%. The majority of GDP (almost 70%) comes from consumer spending. Low growth in wages for the majority of American families during this economic expansion is a part of the explanation for the lower-than-average growth of the economy during this long, but tepid recovery.

Meanwhile, this limited growth in most wages mixed with extremely accommodating monetary policy, stock buy backs and growing dividends have propelled the stock market to record highs despite this slow growth environment. We have a sense of the economy doing better than it is because we see the stock market soaring. While observed by many, the benefits are largely constrained to the top 10%. Market strength and economic strength are often related, but they are not the same thing.

2020 Planning
With election year and impeachment on everyone’s mind, Veris monitors for changes to the pillars of the economy, which are the strength in corporate earnings and bond markets. We also recognize that portfolio management is a long-term process. An important factor is not just structuring a portfolio for growth, but also structuring a portfolio to provide for spending needs during periods of decline or volatility. As some investors celebrate these historic market gains, we invite and encourage all of our clients to reach out to your Veris wealth advisor to be sure your portfolio is positioned for the road ahead.

In Memoriam: Jud Bergman, Chairman & CEO of Envestnet

In Memoriam: Jud Bergman, Chairman & CEO of Envestnet

The Veris team mourns the sudden loss of Jud Bergman and his wife, Mary Miller-Bergman, with great sadness.

Jud was more than just a great friend and strategic partner of Veris.

Jud was a visionary and an optimist, a philosopher whose maverick ideas changed the financial world, a dealmaker extraordinaire, a gracious man with a big heart, and a person whose modesty never wavered despite his incredible success. He had a unique ability to share his joy, his curiosity and love of life.

Veris Co-Founder & CEO Patricia Farrar-Rivas said Jud was one of the most thoughtful and unique individuals she has worked with during her 35-year career. Patricia started collaborating with Envestnet in 2000, when the firm had $8 billion in assets and a few dozen employees. Today, it has more than $3 trillion in platform assets and 4,000 people scattered around the world.

“Jud was a truly creative and gifted thinker,” Patricia said. “He had an expansive vision about the financial services industry and impact investing. He knew before others that impact investing could change the world. As a leader, he also had a clear idea of where he wanted to take his company. He saw over the horizon and welcomed others to come along with him.

“Each year, Jud delivered an amazing annual presentation at the Envestnet summit. He included cultural references and historical-point-of-views that were both surprising and illuminating. Then we would go to his favorite blues joint or go to see his kids Natalie and Elliott’s Indie Pop band Wild Belle. It was so refreshing.”

One Big Extended Family
Patricia continued, “Jud was very kind and warm. I am still grateful to him while my sister was battling cancer. He spent so much time with me and helped me through a difficult period in my life. That’s who Jud was: He truly cared about people. You got that true sense of family when you were with him and his team. He connected with people. He never became too aloof, too busy or too important to take the time to talk.”

Veris Co-Founder and Partner Anders Ferguson also worked closely with Jud and Bill Crager, the company’s former president and now CEO of Envestnet.

Anders said, “Jud was an optimist. He saw what was possible. He understood the ongoing integration of finance and information before many others did. And, he wasn’t scared to follow his vision. He enjoyed being philosophical and always thought differently about financial services. That’s one reason he loved to make deals. Everybody used to joke about it: ‘What is Envestnet going to buy next?’ One way or the other, they always made those deals work.

“My experience with Envestnet was similar to Patricia’s: The company, under Jud’s leadership, felt like family. That’s pretty difficult when you grow from a handful of people to thousands. Jud was a man of big ideas who made everyone part of his success. I will miss him. He was a good man and a real loss at a time when the financial services industry is gripped by cynicism and greed. Jud was a gem.”

On behalf of the team at Veris, thank you Jud. We are thinking about your family. And to our colleagues at Envestnet, our thoughts are with you.

The Veris Team

Veris has worked with Envestnet for the past 12 years. Veris serves as the strategic advisor to Envestnet’s impact investing platform.

Veris 2018 Impact Report

Read Our Latest Impact Report

By Anders Ferguson and Casey Verbeck

We hope you will take a few minutes to read our just-published 2018 Impact Report.

Download the 2018 Impact Report

Our Impact Report is the latest in a series of annual updates summarizing key developments around the world. The report is also an affirmation that the impact investing community is making good on its value proposition: To deliver market performance and positive social and environmental impact.

To our delight, the report reflects the passion and energy of our clients and the team at Veris. Each day, we’re emboldened and inspired by all of our clients, which in turn, motivates the team to reach higher and explore new ideas and solutions.

Many Highlights
This comprehensive, 28-page report offers insight about important developments in the field over the past year, including the following:

• A strategic assessment of where impact investing is headed
• Four macro trends that gained momentum in the past year
• Veris’s accomplishments in advancing impact investing
• A retrospective about transformative business over the past 50 years
• A scorecard quantifying the results of impact investing worldwide
• The positive impact of active ownership of public companies
• A snapshot of Veris’s five key investment themes
• An overview of our commitment to diversity and reducing our carbon footprint

This year’s report is the product of many hands starting with the partners of Veris, whose support for this annual project has been essential to its success.

Special recognition goes to our Research Group, whose analysis is another reason Veris is a recognized thought leader in the field. A heartfelt thanks goes to the team that did all of the hands-on hard work – Jessica Lowry, Nicole Davis, Garrett Markley, Luke Seidl, Richard Chen, Chris Baldwin, Greg Berardi, Susan Nagy, and Brian Kay. Together, this terrific team has produced another terrific report. Click here to download the report.

Anders Ferguson and Casey Verbeck are partners at Veris Wealth Partners.

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