Wealth Podcast Post

Investing with Purpose with Cam Barsness

George Grombacher July 21, 2022

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Investing with Purpose with Cam Barsness

LifeBlood: We talked about investing with purpose, ESG investing, changing the way you interact with money and financial advice, and how to get started, with Cam Barsness, CFP, Partner and Financial Advisor with Kutscher, Benner, Barsness and Stevens. 

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You can learn more about Cam at KBBSFinancial.com and LinkedIn.

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Our Guests

George Grombacher

Cam Barsness

Episode Transcript

Unknown Speaker 0:00
Come on

Unknown Speaker 0:11
Bob Leffler. This is George G. And the time is right welcome today’s guest strong a powerful cam bars Nest Cam. Are you ready to do this? Let’s go. Let’s go. Cami is a CFP. She’s a partner and financial advisor with Kutcher bento bars, NUS and Stevens with a focus on ESG investing can tell us a little about your personal lives more about your work and why you do what you do. I’d love to but first, thank you just so much for having me on the podcast. It’s a pleasure to be here. I really love the breadth and depth of the topics that you cover on the podcast and just find it really interesting and bite size. So thank you for doing that. Thank you. Yeah, I grew up in Montana, I was born and raised in little tourist town up in the mountains called Red Lodge and ran away after graduation to Santa Clara University in the Bay Area. And hello, big cultural shock. For 2000 people that I grew up with are very different than the millions of people that I lived with in the Bay Area. But came back to Montana a little bit after graduation. Ultimately, my husband and I found ourselves in Seattle, where we still live with our three kids who are a 711 and 13. So I’m just hitting those treacherous teenage years. And, you know, I thought when we first moved to Seattle, we were going to leave and I wanted to be in finance. So that meant a big corporation. And through a headhunter found myself in the world of financial planning that I didn’t know existed and fell in love immediately and just dug in and went right back and got my CFP, the certified financial planning. And what I really love about this industry that I fell into is that it’s all about helping people achieve their goals and understanding what’s really important to them and their families. And the foundation is really feeling comfortable and connected to your money. That’s why we partner with clients. And for me, it’s helping people understand what they own in their portfolio and how their holdings and their earnings are helping better their lives and the lives of others around the world. Nice. When you say partner with clients, what do you mean?

Unknown Speaker 2:17
I mean that it’s it’s a collaborative process, if I just tell you what to do with your money, and you don’t have any ownership in that process, you’re not learning anything, you don’t feel connected to it. And we all know that any organization, any business, any people any relationship, the more connectedness we have to that the more invested quote unquote, we are in that relationship. And in that thing, and if it is just nebulous, and kind of disconnected from us and third party, then we’re not really engaged in it. So with clients, we want to be a partnership with them. I often tell people, I’m not here to tell you yes or no, I’m here to give you the analysis and the pros and cons and help you make a decision that meets your needs and your goals and your values. I think that that makes a lot of sense.

Unknown Speaker 3:05
To people resist doing that, from a financial advisor standpoint, it strikes me that that might be harder. Yeah, it is. But that’s really where the relational piece comes in is really getting to have enough conversation with your client to understand what’s important to them, asking intimate questions that feel like sometimes I probably know more about our clients than maybe their kids know, certainly more than their neighbors and friends know, because nobody talks about money, and what comes down as you have to figure out what matters. And a piece of that is what we’re here to talk about today, which is ESG investing. And a piece of that is asking those questions of how do you want to connect to your money? How do you want to connect to your portfolio? Is there things that matter to you in your portfolio that you invest in? Or don’t invest in? Or do you care? And if you don’t, that’s okay, too. That’s not a judgy statement. It’s just asking those questions. Yeah.

Unknown Speaker 4:06
And there’s not a right or wrong response to that, right. When you ask people how, how important it is to you to do this, that or the other thing, so people say I don’t care, I just want the best possible investment. Or some people will say I’m sure, that’s extremely important to me, and I refuse to invest in a mutual fund or an investment that has this in it. Exactly, exactly. And what’s what’s really hard about this is that the process is nuanced. And they’re like, think about the industry itself, right? So we talk about it, that you can invest for impact. You can do Sri investments, which are socially responsible investments or ESG, which is environmental, social governance. All I did was just make a bunch of acronyms soup at you, right? Nobody knows what the heck any of that means. And None None of it is binary. We

Unknown Speaker 5:00
can’t do anything with a yes or no answer in that way. Anyway, so it’s all about this conversation and then putting that all on a on a spectrum. But really what it comes down to when I think about it, is that I kind of give this analogy that in investing, you have fundamental technical analysis, which is P E ratios and cash flows and balance sheets, which none of us really want to talk about, because everybody’s eyes glaze over. And that is not entertaining to anyone. But think about when you go to the optometrist, right, like you have the foundation of seen, and then you keep putting these weird little lenses on. And if the listener could see me, I’m like, literally putting a lens in front of my eye like they do at the optometrist. Is this better? Or is this worse? And you layer on these ideas of like, okay, if this is a company that I think is a good company from cash flow, and return and product right there good. Let’s talk about these other things. Like, for example, is the company good based on compensation of top level to bottom level, their overall benefits package? What are the PTO look like to the to the average employee? And that’s your social issues? What about the board of directors? Is it diversified across gender and ethnicity and social economic backgrounds? We all know that all of those together are good when we have diversity and all of that. That’s governance, right? How do they think about the long term sustainability and impact of their business and their products on the world? How are they packaging and disposing of their products? Are they stewarding and improving the energy and water usage? Now, as an investor, I have all these other things that I can kind of layer on to really think about the companies that I invest in. And those are all things that we can talk about, right? Like, we can have a discussion about that. And everybody can have an opinion in a way that if I asked your opinion on a price to earnings ratio, you’re like,

Unknown Speaker 6:56
I don’t know. But I can talk about these other things. And that’s where we get this 360 degree view of investing about really the long term piece of it. So for me, it’s about risk. Because as an investor, I want to know that this company is going to be around in a good healthy company in five to 10 years. And they’re not just waiting for that next earnings call and 10 days, and then we got through that moving on.

Unknown Speaker 7:21
And of course, I go back to that binary piece of like, you could say yes or no to an investment. But you have to think about that all of this layers on and sometimes it’s nuanced. And we have to look at each company differently based on what’s material, meaning, like, what’s really significant to them as a company in their industry, the difference between a water plant and say, a Facebook, the things that are important to them, as companies are drastically different. And so it’s not an easy issue. But when we start talking about how this matters, and how we all think about the world, then we can start to distill down to what risk factors can we really put in an investment to make it last over the long term?

Unknown Speaker 8:06
I love that. I love the the analogy about the optometrist and the different lenses now that now I’m doing the thing with with my hands that she was doing earlier for all your podcast listeners, I think that that’s an awesome way to think about it.

Unknown Speaker 8:21
That sounds like a lot of work

Unknown Speaker 8:23
for for you to do all that. Yeah. And thank goodness, I don’t have to do it, I get to come and I get to talk about it. And I get to have all these wonderful conversations. And then I throw the problem that my investment committee and I throw the problem that mutual fund managers that think about this day in and day out, and are kind of boots on the ground out with companies asking these questions about, you know, what are you doing about this company X and, and starting those discussions. But, you know, it really starts with conversation, because without it, none of this really matters if the mutual fund managers don’t have the conversation if we don’t have the conversation with our clients, and if just the average everyday person doesn’t start to say, hey, what’s happening in the world? What what do I want companies to act? Like?

Unknown Speaker 9:14
You asked a question earlier, when we weren’t on on camera are we being recorded of why is it important? And I just think it’s important because it connects us to our money in a different way. And we have to be confident that we understand what we’re investing in. And that’s how we’re going to want to do more of it. We’re gonna want to save more, which is ultimately the goal of investing anyway, so we want to kind of talk about it. Yeah. I, I’ve experienced certainly through being a part of different organizations, that the more that you are able to contribute, we support will be helped to create and so the idea of or the actual practice of being able to do that with

Unknown Speaker 10:00
are investing. That’s sort of a whole nother level, if that’s what’s something that somebody is interested in, we’ve talked about, or you’ve mentioned a couple of times the importance of these questions and collaborating and being able to have different kinds of conversations. When you’re sitting down with somebody for the first time, what are some of those conversations? How do you get the conversation started to gauge whether or not this is of interest to me? Yeah, it’s a great question. And it’s one that I think we’re sometimes scared to do. We don’t want to ask questions that feel kind of intimate to somebody, we want to kind of shy away from them and assume if somebody is passionate, or really interested in some, something, they’ll tell us, we know, as humans, we don’t actually do that. We might behind closed doors, but we won’t in the moment. So I just sit down with you and say, Hey, there’s this thing that you probably don’t even know exists out there. have, you know, layering on this additional piece into investment analysis, very similar to traditional but we layer it on? Is that something you want to hear more about? Now, when I say that must have or like I don’t know, probably not. But what I ultimately do is I give them a questionnaire that talks about things like executive compensation and diversity on boards and climate change, and ask them how interested they are in those types of things. Well, they come back with that questionnaire that they got to fill out at home. And I get answers where they say, I’m very interested, I would never invest in you know, XYZ, and it’s like, Oh, you are interested in this e. S, G, quote, unquote, style of investing. It’s just when we use words that people don’t understand. they shy away from it. But when you give them words that they hear and think about all the time, you know, over the last month or so, I’ve had a number of people say, Do I own guns? Do? Do I own Russia, like these things come up? in everyday conversation, if we’re willing to talk about some of the harder pieces that that feel more interested and feel more squishy in investing? I know that’s a technical term to everybody swishing, really, really leads to investment analysis. But we often don’t think about those type of questions when it comes to investing. Because we think that it’s just numbers. And I don’t know anything about it. So I can’t talk about it. We can all talk about it, we can all be engaged in how our money is helping us and the world. Yeah. What a what an important and powerful tool that is that the little piece of homework or take home that helps people through through just giving them prompts like ESG investing? I don’t know maybe that’s interesting. Oh, well, yeah, for sure. I’m not interested in that, or Yes, I’m very interested in this and 100%. I’ve got an opinion about that. So what a cool tool, well, it and it starts, it doesn’t even have to be investing, right? You can start you can start with your first dollars. Think about it. We all make choices every day of what companies do we support, what local businesses do we support, where do we get our coffee? Where do we get our groceries, we all make these choices? And we can step back and think Is this the local business? Is this the corporation that I want to support with my dollars today? That’s an easy every day first mover thought and, and it goes back to the big picture of ESG. We just don’t talk about it that way. But we’re all doing it. Each and every day. We’re making choices with our money, no doubt, voting with our dollars, so to speak. Cam. Yeah. So I think that we may be touched on this a little bit. There’s a million different acronyms and this that the other thing. But what’s important is what we’ve been talking about

Unknown Speaker 13:49
the industry, the financial apparatus, when they get a sense that oh, this is a popular thing, we’re just going to start calling everything ESG. And that really has that just muddies the water. And it makes it harder if you are really serious about doing this work, which I know that you are to cut through what is BS and to really know, okay, this is a fun company, or money manager or whatever that is actually interested in doing the work. What are your thoughts on that? Yeah, I mean, million dollar question and in the heat of media right now. And, and you nailed it, but we will if we want to do it, the passion behind it comes from really wanting to make change. And so I’m going to say, you know, my personal belief and this is going to be hard, is it really you have to have active management to do that. What I mean by that for those that maybe don’t know what that means is when you have a mutual fund, it can either be like an index based where you just kind of by the broad market, or you can have somebody sitting behind the scenes saying I want to pick Company X Y, but I don’t want

Unknown Speaker 15:00
A and B in this portfolio. So that’s the active piece a human making an active choice. And when you have that active management piece in there, it allows you to

Unknown Speaker 15:12
really look at what that company is doing. And think about how can I engage that company for change in what AI future wants. So when you’re thinking about this, and then maybe you have the choice in your 401k, between an index fund and an active management fund, and a lot of times, they’ll show that to you in a 401k, with little symbols, you might want to choose the active managed fund, because you know that they’re going to be more invested in that process of really kind of thinking about how are these companies enacting policies around the E S, or G versus an index, all they can simply do is set parameters from the start that says, exclude this, exclude this, but after that, you can’t really make decision. And when I talk about this, I often talk about it with with college aged students, and I say, has anybody listened to Hamilton? And they all kind of nod their head and go yes. And and kind of wonder, Where is she going with this conversation, we’re talking about investing, say, Everybody remembers the song in the room where it happens, right? Hamilton was in the room where it happened. And if you don’t take an ownership stake in a company, by buying a stock or a share of stock, you don’t get to have a conversation with them, you’re not engaged with that. So if you have active management, that might take an ownership share in a company that maybe could do better. Now they get to be in the room where it happens, they get to have that conversation. And so being with those companies, those mutual fund companies that really do that, or if you’re an individual investor at home, and you get the proxy statement, which sounds weird, it’s essentially a ballot, we should call it a ballot, you get the ballot from coming from the company and says, How do you want to vote, vote, use that voice, just like in every other piece be active in the change that you want to see happen? Such a cool way to think about it. And obviously the correct way to think about it, but such a cool way to think about it that not only are you doing all the things we’ve been talking about, but then you actually get to vote on it to you get to vote on their directors and so many cool things. And it’s just one more level of if you are interested in taking ownership of your money from maybe not start to finish, but at different levels. That’s that’s a super cool way to think about that. So I appreciate that. Yeah, yeah. Okay, um, you’ve given us a lot, but the people are ready for that different speaking tip. What do you have for them? Yeah, that difference making tip is that don’t make life all or nothing. Small changes, and seemingly small acts can have tremendous impact over time. So don’t wait till you can do it all do something small today.

Unknown Speaker 17:53
I think that is great stuff that definitely gets caught up. Especially when we’re looking at, you know, all the problems that we’re facing in our backyards in our communities in you know, and then all around the world can feel overwhelming or feel like we can’t have an impact. But the other way to think about that is just to start taking those small bites and to do a little bit because if we all did that,

Unknown Speaker 18:17
what a wonderful, it would be notch and how big the impact is if we all did something small. There’s a lot of us out there. Amen. Well, Ken, thank you so much for coming on. Where can people learn more about you? How can they engage with you? Yeah, I’d love to come to our website kpbs financial.com. Or you can check me out on LinkedIn camera and sparseness and direct you to our website or more of what we do or some of our reading. And as always, listeners, reach out, this is what I do. I talk to people I love talking to people, whether you’re my client, another advisor, it doesn’t matter to me. The world is big enough for all of us and learning how to be passionate about your own money and invested in your own money. That’s what I’m here to do. So reach out. Love it. If you enjoyed as much as I did show camere appreciation and share today’s show with a friend who also appreciates good ideas go to KBB s financial.com. And check out all the great resources and all the good work that cam and her firm are doing reach out, get in touch and see if there’s an opportunity to work together. Thanks again, Kim. Thank you so much. And until next time, keep fighting the good fight. It’s we’re all in this together.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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