Hello, and welcome to our new iteration of the Inspiring Activist series of interviews. As we come to the end of the tax year here in the UK, we start with Francesca Spoerry, an ethical finance specialist, and founder of the Values Aligned Finance organisation. Francesca and her work have been a source of inspiration since we met during one of our climate science workshops.
What concerns you about the world today?
It’s the very obvious issues of (very broadly) environmental and social problems. What concerns me the most, is not necessarily that these problems exist, but that we already have what we need to fix them: money. The bottom line is that our financial system isn’t fit for purpose anymore.
What positive contributions are you making?
My work is about reforming the financial system through individual, grassroots action. The fact is that for almost all the problems that exist in the world (e.g climate change, poverty, discrimination), we actually already know the solution! What we need is money to fund them. And the great news is that there is enough money in the world, it just needs to be used to fund the solutions, rather than the problems.
So I do that by providing workshops to people who want to use their finances, what’s in their bank account, their pension fund, or their investments, to have greater social or environmental impact. For example, what’s the point of funding a tobacco company if you don’t think cigarettes should exist? Then your money could be used instead for funding a new vaccine, for example. Research shows that moving your pension to a sustainable fund could have 21x more positive impact on the climate than going veggie, giving up flying and switching energy provider. People often don’t realise the link between their finances and what’s happening in the real world, and I help explain that.
Find out more: Take the 21x challenge – Make My Money Matter
What sacrifices have you made?
My sacrifices seem insignificant compared with those of others, but certainly there have been financial ones which have had a relational impact: for example, my parents don’t understand why I left a ‘proper job’ at Morgan Stanley!
How do you stay motivated?
My biggest motivator is knowing that what I’m trying to do can happen. I’ve already seen so many people using their finances to fund things they care about, and making a real impact with their money. Little by little, I’ve seen some of the world’s largest investors start to realise what people care about, and make much larger systemic changes as a result. Nowadays, anyone with a bank account or a pension fund actually can have an impact on the financial system – which is such an inspiring thought!
What gives you hope?
Hope does come and go, but I love seeing the impact of shareholder action. A good example is the progress being made by the charity ShareAction (link), who are using individual investors to force large companies to change their practices.
Find out more: ShareAction | Harness the power of investment
What if…we make the changes needed, what will your 2030 look like?
In 2030, every single person with a bank account, pension fund pot or investment, will understand the impact their money is having, and will select to fund projects solving our global problems.
Please tell us about a book that has helped you grow…
This is hard, because I read a lot, but I’ll choose Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl. I interpreted that book as saying that if you have a ‘why’ you can basically do anything. So everyone has to figure out their own ‘why’ and they will be more resilient in the world.
…and a song that keeps you going…
It changes all the time, but this week I love Moana’s song ‘How far I’ll go’. In it Moana decides to It’s just a very happy song about a girl following her instincts. I like to go running to it!
… and a quotation that lifts you up…
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.”
often attributed to Nelson Mandela, but actually from Marianne Williamson, in her book A Return to Love
Finally: imagine we give you a microphone, and every person on the planet can hear you. What will you say?
“You have a greater impact than you think you do.”
Daphne Pleace Yorkshire, UK Daphne is our well-being director and in-house writer. She has over 50 years’ experience of ‘people’ work in a range of contexts. She has been, or still is, an English and drama teacher, a counsellor in educational and relational settings, a psychotherapist, and a facilitator and mentor in both personal and professional developmental contexts. She chooses now to devote her time and skills to individuals and organisations working with the climate crisis. View all posts