Female Founders in Climate Series
AN INTERVIEW WITH ELIZA ARNOLD, CO-FOUNDER OF ARNIE
Today’s featured female founder is Eliza Arnold, the Co-Founder of Arnie. Learn more about how Arnie is creating the first personalized 401(k) that works for you.
By Briana Tang
March 16, 2022
There’s $7.3 trillion in 401(k)’s in the United States, yet almost no one knows where their money is actually going. With a few small changes to their portfolios, consumers can divert money from massive oil spillers and instead fund climate-positive solutions like water efficiency projects.
Arnie aims to make people realize that values-aligned investments doesn’t mean giving anything up. Using a strategy called custom-indexing, the company helps customers buy and sell stocks directly, providing infinite flexibility over what makes up each portfolio. With daily rebalancing and superior risk management, customers can retire in a world worth living in, where profits and purpose go hand in hand.
Being the Co-Founder of Arnie means that Eliza has an extremely interesting story to tell. We had the opportunity to hear about her perspective as a female founder building one of the first products of its kind.
Hi Eliza! We’re so happy to feature you and Arnie during our March campaign! Could you start by telling us about what initially sparked the idea for Arnie?
It actually came from a very unexpected place. I used to work as a Creative Director in advertising and while working on a gun control campaign, I discovered that my 401(k) was invested in gun manufacturers. When I tried changing it and asked to divest from things like guns and fossil fuels, I was essentially told no at every turn and that it simply wasn’t possible.
That sparked the right amount of rage and interest. I went to my sister, who was working in private wealth management and was the ‘money one’ of the family. Together, we realized how restrictive 401(k)'s really were, and how ready they are for change. Many late nights later, the two of us co-founded Arnie so that people could invest in a future they’re actually excited about living in.
It’s so cool that your sister is your co-founder! Since our readers are always looking for ways to align their finances with climate impact, what would you want them to know about your company?
At Arnie, we rebalance daily (instead of quarterly like most funds), which allows us to predict where sources of risk are coming from and limit exposure. Through this, we can customize each portfolio to the right balance of risk and return at every point of your life while taking into account important things like college tuition or purchasing a house. We also incorporate inflation hedge strategies and growth drivers to provide overall better risk management.
It’s clear that Arnie isn’t like other 401(k) options. Could you expand more on how your company is leading the fight against climate change?
Follow the money. That’s something we always say when we’re feeling frustrated with the status quo. Follow the money and you’ll figure out how to really make change.
Most Americans hold the majority of their wealth in their retirement accounts. That means it’s a huge tool to enact change—all it requires is intention and Arnie takes care of the rest. If we can move money out of companies that are negatively impacting the climate and into those on the forefront of fighting climate change, it’ll have a massive ripple effect. This will place huge amounts of pressure on companies to make serious changes or risk losing support.
We also allow you to proxy vote directly on issues that matter to you. When investing in a fund, you give up your vote to the fund manager. You should know that the ‘Big 3’ asset managers voted against 90% of climate critical resolutions in 2019. We give you the power to vote directly, with both your money and your voice.
It sounds like a lot of people underestimate the value of proxy voting, but it’s so good to hear that Arnie is changing that. Having started Arnie, what would you consider as your proudest moment since founding it?
This might seem small, but we presented the first versions of our product to a group of users, asking for feedback and for them to poke holes. And they did! Plenty was wrong, so much didn’t make sense. But they were really excited about it and they wanted to know more.
The team had worked so hard to get us there. There was a lot of late night research, countless rounds of design, and the constant fear that we’re missing something. Being able to go back to the team and say the thing we built—that we’ve killed ourselves for—is something people really want was everything to me.
Your team sounds like they really know their stuff! I’m sure they’re just as proud of what you have all accomplished so far at Arnie. Speaking from your personal experience, what is something you wish people knew about being a female entrepreneur?
It is harder. It won’t be obvious all the time or to everyone, but you’ll know. You will have to work harder to convince people you know what you’re doing. However, I think that can also be an asset. Because you work harder, you’ll know more, and when you find the people who believe in you, you’ll be energized to do even more.
We’ve also been very lucky to have some amazing investors supporting us. People I truly believe in and trust. I think the founder-investor relationship can be one of the most helpful early on. They push you, and have their own (often extremely different) ideas about where you should take this. It’s your job to take the useful parts, figure out why they’re leading you in a certain direction, and then make a decision about what to do.
I think it’s great that your team and investors encourage you to consider new ideas and think outside of the box with where you can take Arnie. Is there a certain organization you’d like to shout out for their support?
We went through the Norrsken Impact Accelerator last summer. For any impact company interested in going through an accelerator, I can’t recommend them enough. They are the most amazing group of people and will have you thinking about what your company could be in entirely new ways!
Climate Lightning Round
Moving on to the Climate Lighting Round, where we rapid-fire climate-related questions at you!
What’s your favorite climate tech or topic?
Sustainable crypto mining. We’ve got to figure this out.
Wind, solar, or hydrothermal - which are you most excited about?
What is your favorite book or resource about climate that you wish everyone knew about?
Oryx and Crake. This book isn’t directly about climate, but it tells the story of blind corporate innovation and its eventual impact. This is something I think about all the time.
Final question: is there any greenwashing you’ve seen recently you want to set the record straight on?
ESG funds. We’ve always struggled with funds, and recently Morningstar stripped over 1,200 funds of their sustainable label.
Eliza, thank you so much for your time. We can’t wait to see what’s coming next for Arnie!
Everyone should have the ability to align their investments with their values. With Arnie, Eliza is working to change that, for both the people and the planet.
P.S. We’ve written an article about bitcoin mining and its impact on the environment. Take a read through here. If you want to learn more about greenwashing in finance, you should definitely check out this blog post here.
Want to learn more about Arnie? Check out their social media!
If you want to stay updated on what Eliza is doing, check out her personal social media.
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