Up to now my approach to investing ethically has been to either avoid the companies that are perceived to make a negative impact on the world – through using ESG-screened funds – or invest in companies that are part of a positive change, like clean energy companies.
Another way to feel better about how you invest is through engagement with companies on the issues you care about. As shareholders, we have a voice. This means that by holding a stake in a company, it’s possible to encourage them to change their practices.
I’ve been interested in Tulipshare (referral link) for a while, but as I tend to do my investing through my Stocks and Shares ISA I didn’t have the impetus to invest through another account.. When I saw they were running a £25 sign up bonus – meaning I could try them without wasting my ISA allowance – this seemed like an ideal time to sign up.
How Tulipshare Works
Tulipshare makes activist investing easy by identifying opportunities for companies to behave more ethically and setting up “campaigns” that you can join by investing in that company, through their app.
There’s a minimum level of investment required to submit a proposal at a public company, so by investing in Tulipshare you help the platform reach that level so that they can campaign on the topic they identified.
The Tulipshare team of lawyers and activists will then take that topic to the company’s next Annual General Meeting (AGM) and propose an improvement that is then put to a vote.
A current example of a campaign is the proposal that Coca Cola set a target to use 100% recycled material in their bottles by 2030, instead of their current target of 50%.
What I like about Tulipshare
- The sign up process is easy and the generous referral bonus they are currently running makes doing so a no-brainer, in my opinion.
- They do the research for you, building a range of campaigns that covers different topics you may feel strongly about, including environmental impact, social issues (such as working conditions) and governance.
- The app has a really simple layout: search for a campaign, check your portfolio and refer a friend.
- You can grow your money on this platform in the same way that you would with any investing app, while knowing that you are actively engaging with the company on important topics. Of course, you can also lose money in the same way, but at least you have had a say.
What I think could be improved
- It’s not clear to me whether there’s any point in investing in a campaign after Tulipshare have reached the threshold to be able to submit a proposal. This could be addressed more clearly in the website. It would also be great to see how close the platform is to reaching this magic threshold, to help choosing between different campaigns.
- I personally like the fact that you can only invest in a small number of companies through the campaigns. It makes the process less overwhelming and it’s also feasible to be invested in all of the campaigns. However, people who wanted to use this platform as a “one-stop-shop” for investing might be disappointed that they could not do their “activist investing” alongside other types of ethical investing.
- They do not offer an ISA option, so you cannot benefit from the tax-free gains that a stocks and shares ISA would offer.
Does it really make a difference?
It’s hard not to feel cynical about our ability to make a difference, but looking through Tulipshare’s list of campaigns is quite encouraging.
For example, less than a year ago they submitted a proposal for Johnson & Johnson to stop selling their talc-based powder and this motion has now been passed by the shareholder vote.
It’s easy to see the progress of each campaign, showing where proposals have been submitted, accepted and approved.
The fact that they are getting results shows makes me think that this is not just a greenwashing gimmick. It’s also good to see how proposals have been passed by other shareholders showing how everyone is playing their part in making change happen.
Is it worth trying?
Investing outside of my ISA still is not a priority for me until I’ve maxed out my allowance, but with Tulipshare you can invest with very small amounts, so can continue to prioritise other strategies.
Their current promotion (August 2022) offers a £25 bonus when you sign up and deposit just £1, and then invest in a campaign.. For transparency, if you use my link I’d also receive whatever you deposit, up to £50 (so if you deposit £1, Tulipshare give me £1 too).
In terms of costs, Tulipshare doesn’t have an account fee but there are conversion charges of about 0.75% to exchange sterling to dollars as well as a transaction fee which goes from 0.5% for transactions over $1000 all the way to 7% for transactions under $50.
I think that with this bonus it’s a no brainer to try out, especially as you can withdraw your deposit and the bonus money after 90 days. While the value of investments can, and often does, go down, with this bonus you take on very little risk with your own money, if your own deposit is small.