Why B Corporation Certification Matters For Sustainable Financial Advisors
Updated: Jun 23, 2021
Certified B Corporations, like Aspen Leaf Wealth Management, LLC, are businesses that meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose. B Corps are accelerating a global culture shift to redefine success in business and build a more inclusive and sustainable economy.
Society's most challenging problems cannot be solved by government and nonprofits alone. The B Corp community works toward reduced inequality, lower levels of poverty, a healthier environment, stronger communities, and the creation of more high-quality jobs with dignity and purpose. By harnessing the power of business, B Corps use profits and growth as a means to a greater end: positive impact for their employees, communities, and the environment.
B Corps form a community of leaders and drive a global movement of people using business as a force for good. The values and aspirations of the B Corp community are embedded in the B Corp Declaration of Interdependence:
You may not have heard of a B Corp, but you're probably familiar with some of the companies that are.
There are over 3,500 certified B Corporations from ~ 70 different countries. The average size of a B Corporation is representative of the entire business landscape, with constituents including small private businesses to larger, publicly-traded, multinational corporations.
A full list of B Corporations, with functionality to sort results locally, can be found HERE.
B Corporations go beyond product or service-level certification. B Corp Certification is the only certification that measures a company’s entire social and environmental performance. The B Impact Assessment evaluates how a company’s operations and business model impact its workers, community, environment, and customers. From supply chain and input materials to charitable giving and employee benefits, B Corp Certification proves a business is meeting the highest standards of verified performance.
Positive impact is supported by transparency and accountability requirements. B Corp Certification doesn’t just prove where a company excels now—it commits a corporation to consider stakeholder impact for the long term by building it into your company’s legal structure.
This is especially important for clients at Aspen Leaf Wealth Management, who I consider stakeholders in the company. It's important because the depth of advice, what we charge, and what tech partners we align with all matter for clients.
What we do, how we do, and who we do it with represent the ethos of the company. What's best for clients isn't always best for the company, and vice versa.
For example, we could use inexpensive financial planning software, but we don't. We could charge more like almost all our competitors, but we don't. We could sell products to earn commissions like life insurance and annuities, but we don't because it's a conflict of interest.
CERTIFICATION IN DEPTH
According to the B Corporation website, it takes 6-10 months to certify. I can attest to this. It took over 8 months for my firm to work through all steps of our assessment.
At the end, I had to present my case and answer questions in front of a certification board similar to what a grad student does when they defend their master thesis.
According to the B Corps website, only 1 in 3 corporations make it through the entire certification process.
The assessment covers business operations broken out into 5 main categories; Governance, Workers, Community, Environment, and Customers.
There are 175 questions in total. Here is an example from Aspen Leaf Wealth Management's assessment.
In the majority of questions I completed, I had to provide supporting evidence in defense of my answer. Writing detailed explanations and uploading docs supporting my claims took a cumulative total of weeks.
After a final review by two different boards, I was assigned a final score of 92.2. To put this in perspective, a perfect score is 200. These companies are unicorns. They simply don't exist.
However, I was happy with our result compared to the rest of certified B Corporations in the United States which on average, score 81.2. Note that a minimum score of 80 is required to even be considered.
WHY SHOULD CLIENTS CARE
For most of our clients, it matters where they shop. When given the choice, they go to Costco versus Walmart. They want to know they're doing business with a successful company that also happens to treat people and the planet right.
There are hundreds of financial firms in the Mile High City. There's only 1 financial advisory firm that calls greater Denver home that's a certified B Corporation*.
That's right, it's Aspen Leaf Leaf Wealth Management!
Regardless of where you stand politically or your personal commitment to society or the environment, we can all agree that placing the interests of our stakeholder clients, our community, and the environment over short term profits is the modern recipe for long term sustainability.
8 years + and my financial advisory firm is proof of this.
B Corporation status simply means we do the right thing for our clients beyond the standard fiduciary duty which gets so easily thrown around in the financial industry. Call it woke. I don't care.
What matters is we've done the heavy lifting to certify our commitment to lifting up people and protecting the planet.
If you have questions about Aspen Leaf Wealth Management's B Corporation certification, please reach out using the "Contact" button at the top of your screen.
* As of May, 2021. Technically, there is also a bank, a venture capital fund, and two private impact funds, but all these great companies are materially different than Aspen Leaf Wealth Management, LLC.