Integrated Investing by Bonnie Foley-Wong Book Review

by | May 21, 2020

I had the pleasure of sitting in on a talk by Bonnie Foley-Wong of Pique Ventures on the concept of Integrated Investing for a small group of other advice-only planners. I now have a huge crush on her because of her passion for making a difference in the world through investing, without playing the tired old game of measuring impact exclusively with dollars. 

So there’s that kind of awkward bias acknowledgement out of the way :D.

Her book, Integrated Investing: Impact Investing With Head, Heart, Body, and Soul was just as pleasurable. As a financial planner who reads…um…excessively, I end up seeing an inordinate amount of investing books, and get frustrated with the default thinking implicit in all of them, which is that he (it’s almost always a he) who makes the most money wins the game, period. 

To avoid that kind of limited perspective, Foley-Wong starts by taking us right back to first principles, like “what are the essential resources humans need to thrive” and “why, precisely, do we invest” before articulating her principles for integrated investing: linking, coordinating, and combining inputs and information from multiple sources to choose a course of action, including analysis, emotions, physical cues, and intuition. 

Bonus: my copy included a wallet sized tool she calls the Cost/Benefit Analysis for All Stakeholders that prompts a reflection on the positive or negative impact a venture has on essential resources for customers, partners, suppliers, employees, communities, and the planet. I, of course, don’t carry a wallet most of the time, so I took a picture of it instead! 

Who should read Integrated Investing?

Anyone who wants to invest with purpose beyond “earning a good return”, “funding retirement”, or “leaving an estate for my children” – all good reasons, by the way – but fundamentally dissatisfying to someone who sees themselves as part of a reciprocal community with responsibilities beyond personal or family security.

If you only have time to read one chapter:

Read Impact Investing: Taking Care of the Village. This is an invigorating chapter that acts as the heart of the rest of the book. It expands the concept of investing away from the out-dated Keynesian model that many of us have been trained to see as the default: the sky is blue and therefore we invest to maximize profit and the only kind of profit we measure is the return shareholders receive.

Instead, Foley-Wong articulates the many ways we can use our resources (which may or may not be our money) “to create long-term future benefits, outcomes, or returns to increase and improve access to essential resources for us, our families, our neighbors, our communities, and future generations.”

If you only have time to read one paragraph:

“Our current economic and financial system rewards people who play the game. Investment industry professionals place too much emphasis on metrics that reward game players–people constantly looking for rational reasons and measurable evidence to support the investment decisions being made. The rules and predominant culture of investing lean in favor of this approach. People who have earned high incomes or have significant financial wealth can more easily plan in the investment game. Smart, entrepreneurial, creative people who have not played the game and lack the same kind of scorecard are left out, despite the fact that they have experience, expertise, and insights to contribute.”

(Chapter 3: Impact Investing: Taking Care of the Village, page 49)

If you only have time to read one sentence:

The first thing people ask me when they are thinking about investing is, ‘What should I invest in?’ But the first question they should be asking is, ‘Why am I investing?’”.

(Chapter 4: Investing With Your Values, page 58)

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