- River Nice is a self-proclaimed anti-capitalist financial planner based in Philadelphia.
- They told Insiders they work with clients who want to be as ethical as possible in what they call an unethical system.
- They also want to enable young people with fewer assets to achieve their financial goals.
Like many young people today, River Nice, 30, believes many of the traditional ways of getting rich under capitalism are unethical.
It’s a value system that makes her career as a financial planner unique.
Rather than relying on the stock market, real estate investing, or passive income schemes, the Philadelphia-based, self-confessed “anti-capitalist” advises clients on how to engage through ethical investing to achieve their financial goals.
This strategy often means avoiding investments that support the fossil fuel industry, private prisons, or border control agencies. And it could involve redistributing wealth to people who need it, for example by using your excess earnings to donate to organizations helping refugees.
“There are some compromises,” said Nice. Customers cannot avoid anything that goes against their values because “capitalism and white supremacy and patriarchy are all completely intertwined structures of oppression,” they said.
A growing majority of young adults are critical of capitalism, a 2021 poll shows, with many decrying the toll of overwork and the affordable housing crisis, for example. In Washington, calls for “taxing the rich” are often based on the fact that wealthy people, particularly millionaires and billionaires, grow much of their wealth through investments such as stocks and real estate rather than a salary, and thus avoid the typical income tax. Proponents often criticize these forms of passive wealth growth, saying they are hallmarks of capitalism and arguing that such investments can never be ethical because they rely on the labor of workers to build wealth for people who already have it .
“As someone who wants to help people with money, wants to help people use money and debt as tools to live the best possible life, I found it super important for my clients to acknowledge that the entire economic model of the United States and the US Majority of the world is not a fair model,” Nice said.
Nice wants to help young people to be conscious and independent when it comes to their money
The stock market is a complicated subject in Nice’s practice.
They believe this is unethical, arguing that workers often do not earn income in proportion to the profits they make for companies. Shareholders are “non-workers” in companies in which they have partial ownership, Nice said, but they believe “employees should own the companies they work for.”
However, Nice said the stock market is inevitable for those making financial plans in the current US economy.
“I don’t see any way to be secure in old age unless we use the stock market to some extent, at least not for the middle and working class,” they said.
After all, not all of Nice’s clients are wealthy in their Be Intentional company. They said they enjoy working with millennials first, especially queer millennials like themselves, who often find themselves in financially vulnerable situations. A 2019 study found that LGBTQ millennials struggle more financially than other demographics.
This often involves reviewing a customer’s current income, expenses, savings, and debts, and then considering what that customer might want to do in the future. That might seem like one could afford to eat out or take a trip once in a while. Big goals might be to buy a house, go to grad school, have children, or pay for gender-affirming surgery.
“I’m trying to educate as many queer millennials as possible about taking control of their own money and being conscious about their own money,” Nice said. “I think a lot of people feel like money is just a big, scary thing that they have no say in. It comes in, it goes out, and hopefully a 401(k) is involved in preparation for retirement.”
That’s why Nice’s main goal is to give people a sense of “autonomy” when it comes to their finances.
“When you’re just starting out, the best thing you can do is look at the money coming in and going out on a daily basis,” they said. “Are you spending money on things that don’t align with your values or priorities? Make small, incremental changes to better align your daily habits with what’s important to you.”
They added that helping people remove money as a stressor would hopefully give people the time and resources to help others.
“These people may have opportunities to engage in more political activism or build new life structures in ways that were previously too difficult to imagine,” Nice said. “I envision a ripple effect when there is more economic power in this community.”
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