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They Grow Up So Fast


Sloane Ortel

Founder and Chief Investment Officer of Ethical Capital.

This firm began accepting its first client deposits almost exactly two years ago today.

Just like welcoming any sort of baby into one’s life, the firm-rearing process has generated plenty of sleepless nights. I’ve spent my literal entire life as a student of financial markets, but that wasn’t particularly helpful when it came time to actually run my own firm.

That probably sounds insane to a lot of you, but it’s completely true.

Picking stocks is only a portion of what it takes to run this firm the right way. That’s the area where my aforementioned devotion to the craft of investing provides a profound tailwind. Making good investment decisions is effectively a cumulative process, and I pull on every experience from prepubescence to the present to do it as best I can.

That process is all but involuntary for me at this point.

It’s such a pure joy that it feels almost sinful. I literally schedule “spreadsheet time” when I’m feeling funky in a bad way, and it never fails to lift my spirits.

Why would they have needed lifting?

Because in the early months, I constantly felt like I was letting my clients down.

Every time it took me ten days to respond to an email, I felt like I’d failed every single one of you. Even if no-one else noticed.

Whenever I couldn’t intuitively navigate a regulatory filing or help someone chart a course through the financial system’s plumbing to transfer their assets over here, I wondered if the trust you put in me is well placed.

I know that I shouldn’t be so melodramatic about this.

I try!

I’m constantly on the lookout for the negative patterns of self-talk that seem to emerge whenever I produce something imperfect. And that awareness has helped a lot… along with a few decades of therapy. But nothing makes me feel better than taking an incremental step towards realizing my vision for this firm.

Now I want you to imagine me smiling….

We’re getting there.

Gabe and I realized recently that almost every prospective client I’ve met with over the past few months has decided to open an account.

I get it: the clients I care most about serving aren’t used to being taken seriously.

Despite acute awareness of our many failings, I can acknowledge that we’ve done a great job at that from the very beginning. There are literally millions of people who don’t invest at all because to them, the stock market is an inscrutable den of thieves.

I built this firm for them. And they’re not wrong. But that’s not the whole story!

Look past the scams, spam, and flimflam for a second, and think about how much truth needs speaking to power. I’m certain that I can only grasp a fraction of what has been left unsaid, and I think about this question a lot.

Here’s a funny thing you may not realize: every dollar you deposit here gives this firm a teensy drop of power to shape the system that surrounds us. It’s not exactly intuitive or obvious how to do that, but I have a few ideas. And I will see them through, even if it takes my last full measure of devotion.

To reduce the probability of such a sacrifice, I’m going to put more intention into growth over the coming year. Almost everyone who has an account here found us, not the other way around.

And I feel bad about that now, because there is no better partner on the planet for kind people seeking long-term ethical growth. So I’ll be criss-crossing the country on Amtrak for the next few months to table at festivals, speak at a few events, and generally make our firm much harder to ignore.

If you know anyone that might benefit from a chat with me, Gabe, and maybe one of his cats, please know that referring them to us is the highest complement we can receive… aside from your continued willingness to share the contents of your mind with us.

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