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Member Profile: Jim Mason and Julie Baumgartel

Jim Mason and Julie Baumgartel are CED Co-op members and investors. We spoke with Jim about why they made the switch to responsible investing.

Thanks for chatting with me today Jim. How did you get involved investing with renewable energy and CED Co-op?

It’s been a long process. We’re concerned about the environment so we eat less meat and ride our bikes as much as we can. We stumble from time to time, but we’re trying to be as responsible as possible. We’ve been interested in renewable energy for a long time, even considering putting solar panels on our house.

In the past we had an investment advisor. At that time we were more interested in making as much money as we could through foreign investments. As time moved on we realized that was really irresponsible. We have to put our money where our mouth is, so to speak.

We tried to get into more renewable energy funds, but there was always something that felt uncomfortable.

Julie is a violinist, so we began to invest in violins. As that market slowed down we invested in property.

Hold on, how does investing in violins work? This might be the most interesting investment strategy I have heard.

Well, violins usually double in value every 10 years. If you buy a violin for $100,000, in 10 years it will be worth $200,000, if it’s a nice instrument. There are buyers who invest in expensive violins that can be worth as much as $4 million. They would offer us a guaranteed rate of return. Our first rate was 15% a number of years ago, but now it’s getting harder to see that kind of return.

Wow, I had no idea that market existed. How did your relationship with your advisor go when you decided to move from his funds to violins, property, and renewable energy?

We totally parted ways, and luckily so because we found out a little later that this financial advisor was a shady guy. We are now involved with CIBC and have a wonderful team that treats us really well. They know that we’re looking for investments that are more responsible and work for what we want.

What constitutes a responsible investment, in your mind?

Anything that’s environmentally safe – solar energy, wind, water – although I haven’t heard a lot about water energy investments.

We have a 17 year old, a 13 year old, and we’re taking care of our grandkids right now – they’re 8 and 6. The most responsible thing we can do is let the kids know that this is important, this is our future.

I want to get solar panels for our house – it’s so tall and south facing on one side – but for some reason we haven’t done it. I don’t know how much longer we’re going to be here, so I don’t know if that would be worthwhile. That’s why it’s better to invest with a group like this.

Yes, that’s one of the benefits we promote for investment in CED Co-op – for those who can’t put up panels at home, you can still support and benefit from solar power.

How did you come to choose CED Co-op as a way to invest responsibly?

We have a lot of friends who are involved – we are all trying to walk the walk, and we’re into local. We do our best to eat local too.

When we joined we made one investment and now we’re thinking of doing another one. I need to get some more information and we will be on board with that.

[Editor’s note: We will be sharing information about our new offering statement as soon as it is receipted by FSCO, so members like Jim and Julie can make their next investment.]

What makes living locally so important?

You want to take care of your community. I think local involvement with everything makes living better. You have to take care of what’s around you first. You want to make your life and the life of your neighbours good. We try to do as much as we can. It’s hard sometimes, but you do your best.

What would you say to someone thinking about investing in renewable energy, based on your experience?

I would urge them to be responsible. It’s all a question of responsibility. The days of taking the money and running are over, on a number of levels.

At this point in my life I’m not interested in taking a big risk by not knowing what I’m getting into. I want to keep building so I don’t have to worry when I stop working, while walking the line between protecting our future, and the world’s future.

 

Thank you to Jim and Julie for sharing your journey to responsible investing!

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