Beyond Investing–World’s First Vegan Investment Platform
Claire Smith (pictured above), the founder of the Beyond Investing platform, is a financial markets veteran of 35 years, whose career takes in JP Morgan Chase, UBS, Albourne Partners as well as running her own consulting business for 5 years. The Beyond investment management companies, formed in 2017, comprise Beyond Advisors, parent of Beyond Investing LLC, the advisor to the world’s first cruelty-free and environmentally friendly ETF and Beyond Impact Advisors, a specialist in investing in plant-based and cruelty-free start-ups and animal-replacing foodtech and biotech. In addition, Claire has co-founded Beyond Animal, a tech platform with the aim of accelerating the growth of the vegan economy, through the provision of a funding portal for vegan businesses which benefits from a FINMA No Action letter and FCA regulatory cover.
Claire took a Masters in Chemical Engineering and Business Management at Imperial College London but moved into finance in 1985, since working in chemicals and oil refining, the primary jobs available to chemical engineers at the time, were unappealing given her concern for animals and the environment. Initially trained as a credit analyst at Chase Manhattan Bank, Claire switched into options dealing in London’s embryonic options markets, developed warrants trading and issuance, and ultimately ran the London convertible sales desk in 1995, structuring multiple bespoke derivatives transactions before leaving UBS in 1998.
After a period of time as a freelance journalist, during which she published over 125 articles in the financial press, and consultant on fund research to London funds of funds, Claire joined Albourne Partners in 2004, assuming responsibility of quantitative equity strategies, taking in systematic quantitative equity, convertible arbitrage and volatility and hedging strategies. She was admitted to the partner program in 2007 and became a shareholder of Albourne in 2010.
In her philanthropic work, Claire founded 100 Women in Finance in Geneva in 2007 and oversaw its growth in Switzerland through till 2014, as a member of the London Board, organizing over 100 events, including seven Galas which raised well over $1 million for charity. Claire served on the Board of AVVEC, a Geneva-based charity that provides support to victims of domestic violence. She is the President of Beyond Cruelty Foundation, formed in 2018 to campaign for zero animal exploitation and to fund safe havens for animals. She co-founded a group to campaign against testing of GMO canola seeds in the English countryside in 1999.
Claire is motivated to use her skills in the financial arena to invest for a kinder, cleaner, healthier world. Being vegetarian/vegan since the age of 15, her primary area of focus is the avoidance of animal exploitation, with associated benefits for human health and the environment, in particular climate change and preservation of biodiversity, a global problem. The investment thesis of the platform is to deprive companies that cause harm to animals and the environment of investment and to deploy capital towards those companies who are engaged in plant-based or animal-replacing products and services.
Change in society comes from an alignment of three levers, Consumers, Citizens and Capital. Consumers have a role to play in choosing sustainable and cruelty-free products, provided these are made available on the market. Citizens can campaign for laws, regulations, subsidies and fiscal policies to be amended in favor of protecting animals and the environment. Capital is a vital piece of the puzzle, since what gets financed gets done, and conversely, the withdrawal of financing constrains damaging companies. Claire aims to direct global Capital flows in such a way that support the efforts of Consumers and Citizens and enable the growth of companies providing solutions and the decline of companies whose practices harm animals and destroy biodiversity.
Around the world there is a clear trend for Capital to become more conscious and multiple investing structures need to be set up. Vegans have till now had nowhere to put their money given the near absence of fund products that address their concerns. Equally, vegan founders have been starved of capital to fund and grow their businesses. It is these needs that Claire seeks to address through her Beyond initiatives.
As opposed to focusing in one narrow area of financial markets, the Beyond Investing platform seeks to provoke capital flows across the spectrum of capital markets and funding.
Within the large cap space, Beyond Investing designs cruelty-free and climate-friendly investing programs in public equity markets and is the architect of the US Vegan Climate Index, a stock index which screens out all animal exploitation and fossil fuel and other causes of harm to humans and the environment, from a US market benchmark. The first instrument on this Index was listed on the NYSE as the US Vegan Climate ETF (ticker: VEGN) in September 2019. With around 280 stocks, and largely market cap-weighted, this product provides a solution for retail and institutional investors who wish to embed cruelty-fee and environmentally friendly principles in their core US large cap allocation.
The US Vegan Climate Index is the first of a range of stock and bond indexes that enshrine the same set of policies, in Europe, Asia, emerging markets, and globally.
Whereas in current stock markets, there are few purely vegan and cruelty-free companies, there are several impending IPOs in the space, due to their rapid growth. To exploit this growing market sector, Beyond Investing has created a small to midcap growth strategy, called the Vegan World strategy, by sifting through global listed equity markets for companies whose products already adhere to vegan principles and could benefit from increasing demand for cruelty-free products. This portfolio of 30-60 stocks provides a thematic play on the vegan theme, spread across the entire food and materials supply chain.
At the bottom end of the scale, Beyond Impact’s vegan venture capital offering is proactively seeking out high potential start-ups and early stage growth companies whose products are superior, scalable and sustainable and thus have the potential to save many animals lives, as well as targeting exceptional investment returns. Since 2017, the portfolio has made investments in 23 companies segmented across themes of cultivated and plant-based replacements to products derived from animals, healthy vegan convenience foods, animal testing alternatives and cruelty-free lifestyle products.
Lastly, Beyond Animal seeks to provide funding solutions through drawing in a wider audience of investors. Beyond Animal will leverage the commitment of the vegan community, as well as the broader support of sustainable and impact investors globally, to provide access to funding to companies across all sectors and geographies, provided that their products accelerate the transition to a kinder, cleaner, healthier world.
Important Information Regarding VEGN
It is not possible to invest directly in an index. Investing involves risk, including the possible loss of principal. Shares of any ETF are bought and sold at market price (not NAV), may trade at a discount or premium to NAV and are not individually redeemed from the Fund. Brokerage commissions will reduce returns. Investments in mid-cap securities involve additional risk such as limited liquidity and greater volatility. The index methodology may cause the Fund to underperform the broader equity market or other funds which do not utilize such criteria. The Fund’s return may not match or achieve a high degree of correlation with the return of the underlying Index. To the extent the Fund utilizes a representative sampling approach, it may experience tracking error to a greater extent than if the Fund had sought to replicate the Index. The fund’s investment objectives, risks, charges and expenses must be considered carefully before investing. The prospectus contains this and other important information about the investment company, and it may be obtained by calling 1-800-617-0004 or visiting www.veganetf.com . Read it carefully before investing. Beyond Investing LLC is the adviser to the US Vegan Climate ETF. VEGN is distributed by Quasar Distributors, LLC.