Professional Jeweler Archive: The New Radicals

February 2000

Professional Insider/Trend Spotting

The New Radicals

It’s not just for hippies anymore. A new wave of social consciousness is affecting business and investment decisions among the buttoned-down and high-tech crowds

Brokers get six-figure year-end bonuses. Self-proclaimed geeks ride the IPO gravy train in the hot Web and biotech markets. Homeowners in desirable neighborhoods sell their homes for more than four times what they paid. There’s enormous wealth in new hands, but instead of living like pampered fat cats, a new social consciousness is creeping into business and investment decisions.

Software Millionaires

Vanity Fair took a look at what people on the receiving end of computer-business stock options have done after cashing out, essentially retiring with millions in their 20s, 30s and 40s. A surprising number plowed their new fortunes into businesses and not-for-profit organizations. Paul Shoemaker, who worked at Microsoft for seven years in marketing, cashed out at age 37 to work for a company that seeks investors for children’s causes. “The chance to have 30 years to give back, that’s really cool,” he told the magazine.

Others who left the big corporations with big bucks in their pockets echo the sentiments; they use the money to “simplify life, consume less and have more freedom to choose what your life is,” said one.

Investing Awareness

Vanguard Group, the world’s second-largest fund company, is creating an index mutual fund that invests in companies with desirable social and environmental policies. TIAA-CREF, another fund company, also plans to offer a socially responsible mutual fund. “I think that sort of demonstrates the fact that socially responsible investing has become a more accepted part of the investment community,” investment analyst Emily Hall told the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Dirty Diamonds

Even the actions taken by De Beers not to deal in Angolan diamonds because diamonds sales there fuel civil unrest and atrocities to civilians demonstrates that corporations look at their impact on the world. Congressional actions calling for country-of-origin certificates on diamonds, if gemologically possible, would allow consumers to choose to boycott diamonds from war-torn areas (“Mission Impossible,” p. 44).

As a jeweler, take a look at what you sell, how and why. More of your customers use their buying power to fuel their social beliefs. If you don’t have well-thought-out answers for them, you may lose their loyalty.

– by Liz Smutko

They might look like hippies, but a new breed of millionaires are powering a socially conscious capitalist movement, says Vanity Fair. They’re reinvesting in their communities and following their hearts, not the bottom line.

Copyright © 2001 by Bond Communications