Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition

It’s been an especially brutal week so far in the markets, which reminds us of a classic Monty Python sketch.

Nobody Expects the Spanish Inquisition.

We can’t claim to have seen the new Coronavirus, COVID-19 coming. That’s kind of the point. Outbreaks happen suddenly and without warning. There are no ‘catalysts’ for an event like this, and as investment managers and Financial Advisors, the past few days have been difficult, to say the least. Bob and I have been on the phone with clients constantly, and expect to hear from more in the coming days. There are a few common threads to these conversations:

The Chief Weapon is Surprise… Surprise and Fear. Fear and Surprise

Like the Spanish Inquisition, the COVID-19 virus plays on our fears. As investors, we have to balance what we see and read against the goals we set and our timelines. We’ve been devouring as much information about the current outbreak as we can, attending webinars from our partners at MSCI (based on research they published a few weeks ago), reading the thoughts of managers that specialize in investing in the asian markets, and talking with clients about their goals, their timelines to meeting their goals, and whether our current strategy is still appropriate. I’m thankful that we started having these conversations at the beginning of the year, and that we’ve focused on how much risk is appropriate to take.

The truth is, nobody knows when something like this will hit, how bad it will get, or where the ‘bottom’ will be. All we can do is think through the amount of risk we’re willing to take, and stick with that strategy, having faith that this too shall pass. We invest for a reason, whether that’s saving for a house, college, retirement, travel, or any of the other reasons we save, there is always a reason. I encourage you to think beyond the short term fluctuations of the markets, and evaluate your overall strategy. Are you taking the right amount of risk for you?

We recommend some comedy to get you through the week.

And Bright Red Uniforms:

If you would like to meet with us to review your risk tolerance, here’s our scheduling tool:


Ways to Green your Business

Our blog has been dark for the past few months because we’ve been deep into what we call “disclosure season”. At the beginning of the year, we’re asked to ‘show our work’ and verify that we are who we say we are by the two main sustainability organizations we belong to: the United Nations-supported Principles for Responsible Investment, and B Lab, which certifies B Corps. We’re now approaching the end of that cycle, and ahead of sharing the results from these efforts, we wanted to give you an idea of what we go through to be a sustainable company, and how you can do the same for yours.

We discovered this series of infographics created by, who urged us to share them with the world. These track pretty closely (although not exactly) with the processes we’ve used to become a more sustainable company, so we thought we’d share!

We’ve prepared for extreme weather by instituting a work-from-home policy to maintain service during natural disasters. Our phones are cloud-hosted and should remain active even during an emergency.

Supply chain risk is critical, and understanding this is one of the major trends to watch this year!


Check this out: we’ve done most of this already, and reported back on it in our recent Impact Report. 

Did you know that the single biggest hidden cost to most employers is turnover? The “S” in ESG stands for “Social”, which is supposed to measure exactly these risks.

Businesses that haven’t thought this through will be more at risk. This forms the basis of our investment philosophy (read the bit under the SDGs)


Thanks again to the folks at for putting this together!

Safer Internet Day 2020

Safer Internet Day was this week, and as we do every year, we like to use this event to highlight our commitment to protecting our clients’ privacy and keeping data secure.

Our way of helping is to highlight a few of the tools we employ to help protect ourselves in the wilderness that is the internet. This post won’t cover antivirus software, but we’ll be looking at the free tools we use to help prevent tracking and reduce (not eliminate) your vulnerability online.

  • The first line of defense is an adblocker. These tools are designed to prevent you from seeing advertising online. We HIGHLY recommend that all of our clients and friends install one and keep it up to date. Our preferred adblocker is Ublock origin, which is available for Chrome here, and Firefox here.
  • Here’s another reason to install this RIGHT NOW: once you’ve visited our website, our advertising will take over your devices for the next three months if you’re signed in to chrome. While we make it extremely easy to opt out of our advertising, most people don’t realize that you have to visit our privacy policy page to disable this, and that it only works for our website. An adblocker will remove all of the ads from the internet, including ours!

  • After this, we like to look at a pair of tools from the Electronic Frontier Foundation. This group is one of the strongest advocates for privacy and an open internet, and we support their work whenever possible. The first tool we recommend, especially for laptops or other computers that you travel with, is called HTTPS Everywhere (you can install it from that page). This tool helps force your connection to a website over a more secure connection, which can help protect your data and especially any login credentials that you use. It’s not perfect, but it’s better than nothing.

  • The second tool by the EFF is called Privacy Badger. This tool blocks invisible trackers, including the ones that the big tech companies use to track you across the internet. Privacy comes at a price however, as you’ll quickly learn just how much the web relies on these tools – this one WILL break certain websites, especially those that are pulling services from multiple sources. However, it can be incredibly illuminating to see just how much you’re being tracked across the web.
  • Finally, we recommend a VPN, especially when travelling, and ESPECIALLY when travelling internationally. A VPN (or Virtual Private Network) is a tool that allows you to create a secure connection to another server before going out on the wider internet. We recommend using a tool like this whenever you’re connected to a WiFi network you don’t control, as they will prevent the owner of the WiFi network from snooping on your connection. Of course, this merely shifts who you trust from the person running your local WiFi hotspot to the VPN provider you’ve chosen to work with. We recommend doing due diligence on any VPN provider you choose to work with. We’re not going to disclose the firm we’ve chosen for security reasons, but we will be more than happy to recommend a few if you contact us.

This year, we’re adding one new item to our recommendations. Facebook recently added a new ability for you to see and manage what data they collect about you when you’re not using Facebook. Here’s their guide to understanding this, and here’s their guide to deleting your off-platform activity.