Making finance into a force for good

Trader Talk

Jude Erondu is good at everything he does — from social impact research, to financial planning, to axe throwing.

Born in Abuja, Nigeria, Erondu grew up in an impoverished community that struggled to provide education and clean water. He moved to the United States to attend Green Mountain College, then to London for a graduate degree at the London School of Economics. He is currently an impact analyst at Pathstone, where he works on sustainability and social issues.

“I grew up in a country that depends on oil,” Erondu says, adding that the region he’s from, the Niger Delta, has been decimated by oil spillage. “That really motivated me to pursue a degree in sustainable business.”

At LSE, Erondu received a master’s in development studies, looking at different factors — political, economic, social — that make a country a developed nation and writing a thesis about the resource cost theory.

“It’s a theory that was propagated a couple of years ago that says that countries with abundant natural resources tend to under-develop due to indigenous factors like corruption, like weak institutions, like poor management of resources,” Erondu explains.

At Pathstone, Erondu helps clients align their investment portfolios with their values — for example, those who may not want to invest in companies that are not sustainable or that use child labor. Erondu’s work also aims to help companies divest from unsustainable materials like fossil fuels.

Mark Peters, managing director at Pathstone, says he was immediately impressed with Erondu when the company hired him two years ago.

“He’s really taken the role and made it into something wonderful,” Peters says. “He brings a lot to the table. He’s just extremely talented at whatever he sets his mind to and has shown a real commitment to excellence.”

Peters has difficulty pinpointing his favorite thing about Erondu, but Erondu impressed his manager at a company axe throwing retreat. Neither Peters nor Erondu nor any of the other employees had thrown axes before, but it soon became clear that Erondu was very good at it.

“It came out of nowhere — he was very precise, very systematic, and his throws were hitting the bullseye,” Peters says. “And it’s just one of those things — it’s like, well, of course Jude won the whole thing.”

Erondu’s drive and passion extends beyond the workplace. Even during the pandemic lockdown, Erondu used his spare time productively, enrolling in and receiving a Corporate Innovation Certificate from Stanford University.

Erondu also believes that sustainability in financial planning, though a niche sector, is where the industry is headed.

“It is the future, because even companies that are privately held are beginning to rethink their business approach,” Erondu says. “It will continue this way because of shifting culture, which is one of environmental concerns due to the rise of climate change and the rise of disruptive technology.”

As for his own future, he hopes to be a leader in the field and to inspire children who, like himself, grew up in disadvantaged areas.

“I envision a financial industry that will be a force of good for everyone,” Erondu says, “an opportunity for those who are considered left behind, an opportunity to address most of the challenges that our society is facing today.”

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