Over the past 30 years, Natural Investments has grown slowly and organically over time by attracting advisors who are aligned with our mission. Even without specific growth targets, our firm has expanded, introducing more people, new ideas, and a wider range of business styles. As a collective of advisory practices, we share common investments, codes of ethics and conduct, policies and procedures, technologies, and values––yet there is a diversity of approaches in how, where, and with whom we work.
This growth has created dynamism and prompted deep reflection on how we wish to move forward, particularly as we work to maintain a sense of family while embracing diversity and minimizing bureaucracy. Beginning a few years ago, for example, our desire to make a commitment to gender and racial diversity led us to add more women and people of color to the team. At the time, this goal seemed somewhat daunting given that we are almost exclusively approached by white, male advisors––a reflection of overall industry demographics. Another challenge is that we are not a typical firm offering salaried employment; rather, we seek self-starter entrepreneurs who have the skills and tenacity to build their own practices within the collective. We have contributed to various industry scholarships over the years aimed at increasing interest among diverse graduates looking for careers in this field, but we have generally been approached by few professionals of color looking to join us.
We are delighted, therefore, to have expanded in the manner we have: six of the seven new advisors we’ve added in the past few years are women, two are women of color, and we also hired a woman of color as our editor. Our newest advisor, Nicole Middleton Holloway, a Certified Financial Planner® based in Oakland, California joined us this year.
As we welcome Nicole, our composition of 21 advisors is now 43% women and 14% people of color. It is a marked improvement, yet we are not satisfied; our priority for any possible expansion will continue to be increasing diversity.
Similarly, we are continuing to seek investments that focus in particular on underserved communities of color. While we have long invested client assets in various institutions, private debt, and equity funds that provide people of color with access to capital, this year we invested some of our firm’s reserves in Self-Help Credit Union, whose branches primarily serve people of color and low-income people in rural and urban communities across several states.
As we celebrate 30 years of helping investors create the change they wish to see, we wish to celebrate our major increase in assets in the past year, as we now manage over $1.2 billion. Scaling to this level allows us to make an even greater impact in the world as we strive for social and racial justice and facilitate a more regenerative way of life for all of humanity. We thank you for being on this path together with us.