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Jane Siebels Invests for Impact
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When Jane Siebels left her family's Iowa farm and got a big job in Europe, her father never asked how much money she made. "But he always asked if I was being fair to my clients, if I was being honest, and if I was giving back," says Siebels.
If her father's questioning pointed Siebels in the direction of doing good, Sir John M. Templeton showed her how. As a portfolio manager at Franklin Templeton, Siebels followed in Sir John's socially minded footsteps, becoming a "kind of socially responsible representative for Templeton." As much as Siebels admired Sir John, the feeling was mutual: Sir John not only chose Siebels to be a trustee of the John M. Templeton Foundation, but when she left Templeton to start the first socially responsible investment firm, he was a founding investor.
Today, Siebels' Green Cay Asset Management is known for short selling unethical companies in an effort to bring about change. Meanwhile, to find companies with values that she'd like to support, Siebels dives deep, finding organizations that other impact investors might overlook and, through an innovative online contest, crowd-sourcing in-depth research by local analysts to get at what's happening on the ground.
In 2009, after seeing a need for greater efficiency and collaboration amongst philanthropies, Siebels founded an invite-only social networking company for philanthropists called iGivingWorld. Ever the Iowan, Siebels likens iGivingWorld to her own "Field of Dreams"—with the game being philanthropy and the entire world her playing field.
I grew up knowing that we are given talents, but one of the responsibilities that we have with our talents is to give back. And so, [giving back] was just a natural thing. It was just a part of our lifestyle.
I have the most fun in philanthropy working with people, whether that's other philanthropists, or benefactors of philanthropy, or the women in Africa that receive micro loans. I mean the world is populated by a wonderful thing called mankind. And every time I work with philanthropy that is reinforced.
I always say that Warren Buffet is probably one of the best socially responsible investors. And the reason is that he looks at the values of the management and he goes in depth to make sure that the managements do the right thing.
Sir John Templeton was very influential...for me because he said, 'It's not about alleviating poverty. That's a negative connotation. It's about creating wealth and being a partner.' And it's very true. If you go to the poorest of the poor and you're giving them charity, that sometimes makes you feel superior to them and you're not.