Peter Camejo is either a walking contradiction or the kind of broker people could use as investing and corporate responsibility get reacquainted. He's a broker-turned-political candidate who is running for governor of California on — seriously — the Green Party line.
Why? “To end the corruption,” he says. “The power of corporations over the two major parties has so weakened the oversight.”
His latest showing in the polls has him garnering 4 percent of the vote, but he counters that the polls only ask about two major candidates. (Still, he estimates he probably has only about 8 percent.)
If his candidacy doesn't pan out, perhaps he'll keep making noise in finance because the topics in the news — greater governance and oversight — are ones he believes investors need to be more proactive about.
Camejo, 61, co-founded Progressive Asset Management, a socially responsible broker/dealer based in Concord, Calif., with about 50 registered reps in 18 states, he also helped put together the first environmentally screened fund for Merrill Lynch. His clients are investors who want to apply social screens, such as environmental records, child labor practices or malfeasance by company executives, to their investments.
But he's not just some namby-pamby granola eater.
“What has been believed is that the minute you introduce social concerns, you're going to reduce the universe you're investing in,” he says. “The social screens, even though not intended, are financial screens … what social screens do is discover companies that are strong enough financially that they don't slip up. Look at Waste Management — it turned out the company was lying, and how did we know? Well, if a company keeps getting a felony conviction, isn't that a warning?”
Camejo authored a book, The SRI Advantage — Why Socially Responsible Investing Has Outperformed Financially, which argues the case for social investing, although he concedes that SRIs are too new to provide long-term comparisons.
As far as investments, his recommendations are for managed futures as a hedge and index notes as “a chicken's way to play the market.”