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Accelerating the divest-invest movement

The divestment movement continues to accelerate. Organizations, universities and churches are experiencing increasing pressure from stakeholders to divest, with the first Canadian university, Laval, committing to divest in 2017.

In an economy heavily concentrated in oil and gas, many Canadians want to do something about climate change. Genus Capital, a pioneering wealth management firm, called on Yulu to promote Canada’s first suite of fossil-free mutual funds, and to educate investors on how to divest their money away from greenhouse gas polluters and into investments that align with their personal values.

THE CHALLENGE

Yulu has worked with Genus Capital since 2016 to raise public awareness of Genus Fossil Free. This suite of fossil-free mutual funds has become a game-changing product in the impact investing space because for the first time, it allowed people to invest in a 100 per cent fossil free fund. Yulu wanted to ensure the Genus Fossil Free brand would stand on its own merit and meaningfully coexist with the Genus Capital brand. To develop brand positioning that was built to last, we knew we’d need to take a step back from the whiteboard and hear from the people on the frontline who spoke to investors every day.

THE STRATEGY

Our process began with stakeholder interviews, talking to the portfolio managers and Genus’ leadership team to learn what was resonating with clients. Next, we benchmarked Genus against its peers. Rather than only looking at direct competitors, we analyzed one of the country’s most successful robo-advisors and one of North America’s largest investment firms, both of which had a carbon-conscious offering.

From there, we developed a strategic communications plan that has been our guiding force since we began working together in 2016. One of the main pillars of our strategy was to build the reputations of Wayne Wachell, the CEO of Genus Capital, as the “Father of Fossil Free,” and Mike Thiessen, partner and director of sustainable investments to raise awareness of Genus’ truly impactful portfolio offering across all external communications channels, including marketing, media relations and social media.

Our strategy also encompassed the launch of Genus’ ‘Climate Action Superheroes,’ an online storytelling series to champion high-impact leaders working at the intersection of finance and climate action, to move the needle on climate change.

RESULTS & IMPACT

As climate change and the divestment movement continues to dominate headlines, journalists have a strong appetite for learning how fossil free and impact investing can be used to align personal wealth with values.

In our time working with the Genus team, Yulu has garnered more than 170 pieces of media coverage, with tangible increases in quality each quarter as we continually develop existing, and new media relationships. Through consistent media opportunities, we have positioned both Wayne and Mike as expert thought leaders in not only the global divestment movement, but also the world of sustainable finance. Wayne is now a sought after expert, known as the “Father of Fossil Free,” and has featured in The Guardian, Vice Motherboard, Financial Post, Canadian Press and Star Vancouver, while Mike has featured repeatedly in the Globe and Mail, Business in Vancouver and Wealth Professional

In support of growing Wayne and Mike’s thought leadership, we helped the team elevate its research by packaging insights into a ‘Fossil Fuel Divestment Report,’ which we’ve launched annually to prove that fossil free investing has the same, if not better, returns that traditional investing. Each year, this report continues to feature heavily in the media, and arm investors with compelling quantitative evidence for going fossil free. In 2020, we also supported the team in launching the findings of their Dividend report to media which sought to further demonstrate that a fossil free strategy pays, and returns don’t need to be compromised when aligning investments with personal values. 

IMPACT CONSULTING OUTCOMES

In 2017, we were proud to support Genus in being certified as a B Corporation. With our guidance, Genus became Canada’s first wealth management firm to join the B Corp community, with a rating of 87 out of 200 (compared with an industry median of 50 out of 200). Yulu provided extensive consultancy on the B Corp certification process from end to end.

Since becoming a B Corporation, Genus’ clout as an environmentally impactful company has grown. We’ve submitted and won awards on behalf of Genus including; Stephen Au as CFO of the year, Wayne Wachell as an Outstanding Contributor to Clean Capitalism and co-founder Leslie Cliff as one of B.Cs most influential women in finance. Genus has been announced as a finalist for BC Business’ Business of Good Award in its Environmental sustainability category.