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Finding Your Center

Investing in Yourself, Your Community, and the World

At the age of 19, Jina Penn-Tracy was diagnosed with cancer. The impact that that had on her life was tremendous. “I became much more aware of environmental contamination and the impact of chemicals on the environment,” she says. “I read something by Hazel Henderson, an amazing woman, futurist and economist, and her whole message was that what we do to the environment is a direct result of how we spend our money, how we invest our money.”

Adding to that the South Africa divestment movement aimed at ending apartheid in the 1990s, Jina started investing in socially responsible mutual funds, but couldn’t find anyone to assist her. “So, I became the financial advisor that I couldn't find out there in the world,” says Jina. “At that point, there weren't very many people doing SRI [socially responsible investing] as they were called then and what is now referred to as ESG [environmental, social, and corporate governance] investing, impact investing or sustainable investing.”

She has spent her entire 22-year career focused on investments for herself and her clients that promote stronger communities and a healthier world. In 2017, she partnered with Stuart Valentine, who was working for the same broker-dealer she was with at the time, and together they founded Centered Wealth®. 

Centered Wealth, says Jina, uses all of the traditional wealth management tools and approaches, so the same types of things you would do with a typical investment or wealth manager - such as risk assessment, retirement or education planning, looking at your cash flow and your investment goals and taxes - you will do with her. 

“But we also include a couple of different value assessments,” she says. “One is focused on how your investments could be making a difference in the world, what you don't want to invest in, and what are your top priorities. We then use that impact assessment in your portfolio design. Then we develop your financial plan based on an assessment of your core values as a human being, your values as a family, and/or as a couple. Unfortunately,  people have gotten the message that this type of approach doesn't make as much money. I see the opposite happening. In addition to the fact that ESG investing matches traditional investment outcomes,  when people are aligned with how they are invested they make better financial choices. Our research shows that behavior change makes a big difference in investment outcomes.  You can see the research on both of these on our website.” 

Jina believes another way they stand out as a financial firm is their willingness to take no for an answer. “When you're working with an advisor, I think a lot of people are given the message that they should just give over their power to their advisor, trust the advisor, put the decision-making in the hands of the advisor and do whatever the advisor says. We have a much more collaborative approach. We want clients to feel ownership of their money so that when they're taking actions in the world, they actually know what they're doing with their money. It’s an expression of who they are and how they want the world to change, on both a personal and global level.”

The name of the company came from the idea that being centered is the feeling they want their clients to have. “When you have your investments and your financial planning aligned with your core values, you become much more resilient,” she says. “You become able to make choices that are in better alignment with what you really want to have happen in your life. When people are aligned internally, they can weather the storms of a market going up and down or of unexpected things happening in their lives.”

Jina’s business partner, Stuart, works in Iowa, and Jina in Linden Hills with her daughter, Anya Gage. “Anya started working with me in 2018,” she says. “We both thought it was going to be temporary, but when she started to work with me and work with our clients, she became much more interested in the work that I do, mostly because her background was focused on social justice. She had been working on a degree in Economic Geography. She realized those things went together very well with the work that we were doing and how it was very tangible in individuals’ lives - our clients’ lives - but also working to better the lives of people across the planet.”

Today, Anya is a fully licensed investment advisor, completed her degree in sustainability, and has been taking on clients for the past couple of years. “It's just amazing to be able to work together,” says Jina. 

While Jina focuses on environmental concerns in her business life, she is also very active in promoting a better community and world in her personal life. In addition to her volunteer work with MN350, which focuses on pushing institutions to tie their investments to their institutional values, and the Minnesota Divestment Coalition, which promotes divestment from the top 200 carbon-based companies in state pension funds, she and her husband built a net-zero house in Linden Hills. 

“It was designed to fit into the neighborhood and look like it's always been there, but it was also designed from the ground up with super high efficiency,” she says. “These are the types of things I encourage my clients to do – to live according to your deepest values, which will then allow you to have a more centered life.” 

Schedule a complimentary in-person or virtual meeting at Centered-Wealth.com and find out more about investing in what you truly care about in this world. 

Centered Wealth is not a registered broker-dealer nor a registered investment advisor. Centered Wealth and Vanderbilt Financial Group are separate and unaffiliated entities. Vanderbilt Financial Group is the marketing name for Vanderbilt Securities, LLC and its affiliates. Securities offered through Vanderbilt Securities, LLC. Member FINRA, SIPC. Registered with MSRB. Clearing agent: Fidelity Clearing & Custody Solutions Advisory Services offered through Vanderbilt Advisory Services & Consolidated Portfolio Review. Clearing agents: Fidelity Clearing & Custody Solutions, Charles Schwab & TD Ameritrade Insurance Services offered through Vanderbilt Insurance and other agencies. Supervising Office: 55 Main Street, Suite 415 Newmarket, NH 03857 603-659-7626. For additional information on services, disclosures, fees, and conflicts of interest, please visit www.vanderbiltfg.com/disclosures.

"Live according to your deepest values, which will then allow you to have a more centered life."

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