Duke and Duchess of Sussex put their money where their mouth is with ‘ethical investment’

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Prince Harry and Meghan in New York last month - Taylor Hill/WireImage
Prince Harry and Meghan in New York last month - Taylor Hill/WireImage

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have said they are putting their “values into action” by becoming “impact partners” with an asset management company which invests in social media giants Facebook and Twitter.

The Sussexes have invested in New York-based company Ethic, which helps customers direct their money towards companies “that treat people and the planet with respect”.

The Duke and Duchess have previously campaigned against the dark side of social media, working alongside campaign group Stop Hate for Profit and lobbying major corporations to withdraw advertising spending from “lawless” social media companies

Last year, Prince Harry wrote a 1,400-word column in which he said the cost of using social media was “very high”, with personal data traded for profit in a “relatively lawless space”.

On Tuesday, the couple announced they had invested in fintech asset manager Ethic, saying they “want to rethink the nature of investing to help solve the global issues we all face”.

“We believe it’s time for more people to have a seat at the table when decisions are made that impact everyone,” they said. “This is one of the ways we put our values in action.”

$6.9 million invested in Facebook shares

Ethic has $6.9 million (£5 million) invested in Facebook shares, making it the company's thirteenth-biggest investment, according to a recent US filing.

It also has a $32 million stake in Alphabet, the parent company of YouTube-owner Google, and a $2m investment in Twitter.

Co-founders Johny Mair (left) and Jay Lipman (right)
Co-founders Johny Mair (left) and Jay Lipman (right)

Investing their own money through Ethic could mean the couple owning stakes in the tech giants, although the company does allow investors to build personalised investment portfolios that can opt out of owning certain companies or sectors.

Ethic currently has $1.3 billion under management.

In an interview with the New York Times announcing their new deal, the Sussexes made a contrast between the upbringing of Prince Harry and Meghan.

'From the world I come from, you don’t talk about investing'

The Duchess said: “From the world I come from, you don’t talk about investing, right? You don’t have the luxury to invest. That sounds so fancy.”

But, she added: “My husband has been saying for years, ‘Gosh, don’t you wish there was a place where if your values were aligned like this, you could put your money to that same sort of thing?’”

Prince Harry told the newspaper: “You already have the younger generation voting with their dollars and their pounds, you know, all over the world when it comes to brands they select and choose from.”

The Duke, who is the Queen's grandson, and Meghan left the working Royal Family in January 2020, and are now pursuing financial independence in California.

The couple are said to hope that their involvement in Ethic “would help democratise investing, making people - especially younger people - more deliberate in their choices and conscious of investing in sustainable companies.”

'They want to shine a light on how we can impact causes that affect our communities'

Announcing the new asset management partnership, Ethic founders said they hoped the involvement of the Sussexes would see their vision “reach many millions around the globe”.

“They’re deeply committed to helping address the defining issues of our time - such as climate, gender equity, health, racial justice, human rights, and strengthening democracy - and understand that these issues are inherently interconnected,” they said.

“So much so, in fact, that they became investors in Ethic earlier this year and have investments managed by Ethic as well.

“Now they want to shine a light on how we can all impact the causes that affect our communities, bring transparency into how the corporate world sets the tone and shapes outcomes for everyday families, and believe that more people should have a seat at the table when it comes to making progress.”

Founded in 2015 by three white men who are now in their 30s, Ethic is self-described as a “diverse team” which “helps wealth advisors demystify the world of sustainable investing and engage in meaningful values-driven conversations with their clients”.

Its “chief smile officer”, Byron, is a dog.

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