Responsible Investing on the Air

By Jennifer Siegel

Published September 30, 2005, issue of September 30, 2005.
  • Print
  • Share Share

Marc Sussman may be a certified financial planner with 28 years of experience in the financial services industry, but his top priority is not the bottom line.

“I’m more interested in making an impact on people’s lives, and that’s not giving 7 versus 8%,” he told the Forward in a recent interview. “There’s nothing wrong with having money. There’s nothing wrong even with having a lot of money, but there’s something wrong with thinking that having a lot of money means something.”

Sussman’s goal is to help clients make investment choices that are both financially sound and socially responsible — and he’s taking his message to a wider audience on his new weekly radio show, “Green America,” which debuted on the New York affiliate of Air America Radio on September 24. The show will deliver equal parts financial-planning advice, socially-responsible investing education and inspirational guests. The September 24 edition featured Adam Weismann, a New Jersey-based “freegan” who scores most of his worldly possessions by picking through the trash, and Noah Bokat-Lindell, the 15-year-old founder of the Web site

Sussman acknowledged that the timing of the show’s arrival is somewhat ironic: In recent months, it came to light that Air America had borrowed $750,000 from the Gloria Wise Boys and Girls Club in the Bronx under mysterious circumstances. The network has since agreed to pay back all of the money, a move Sussman applauds.

On his show, Sussman plans to air offbeat segments on everything from retirement planning to balancing a household budget, with an overall focus on socially-responsible investing. The first socially-responsible mutual fund, Sussman said, was opened in 1982 to avoid investing in companies that did business in South Africa under apartheid. Today, various funds avoid companies involved in the so-called “sin” industries — tobacco, firearms, gambling, alcohol — as well as companies with poor records on human rights, diversity and the environment.

Sussman wants to see more people choosing to put their dollars behind such funds, which today represent only a tiny fraction of the mutual fund industry. “The message of my show,” he said, is that “it’s a constant process of trying to work on yourself.”

In fact, Sussman, who began his career selling insurance, readily admits that he was not always so socially conscious. But previous work as a music teacher at a Jewish day school led him to become active in New York City’s Workmen’s Circle/Arbeter Ring, a Jewish fraternal organization that for more than 100 years has stood for the principles of social and economic justice. For the last 10 years, Sussman has been the organization-endorsed financial planner, with his office in the group’s building.

So might Sussman be on his way to becoming the next Al Franken?

“How should I put this?” he said. “Anger is not really a big part of my message. We’ve got enough to worry about with what we do ourselves that we don’t have to spend all our times focusing on the negative message, which is what’s wrong out there.”

Find us on Facebook!
  • The images, which have since been deleted, were captioned: “Israel is the last frontier of the free world."
  • As J Street backs Israel's operation in Gaza, does it risk losing grassroots support?
  • What Thomas Aquinas might say about #Hamas' tunnels:
  • The Jewish bachelorette has spoken.
  • "When it comes to Brenda Turtle, I ask you: What do you expect of a woman repressed all her life who suddenly finds herself free to explore? We can sit and pass judgment, especially when many of us just simply “got over” own sexual repression. But we are obliged to at least acknowledge that this problem is very, very real, and that complete gender segregation breeds sexual repression and unhealthy attitudes toward female sexuality."
  • "Everybody is proud of the resistance. No matter how many people, including myself, disapprove of or even hate Hamas and its ideology, every single person in Gaza is proud of the resistance." Part 2 of Walid Abuzaid's on-the-ground account of life in #Gaza:
  • After years in storage, Toronto’s iconic red-and-white "Sam the Record Man" sign, complete with spinning discs, will return to public view near its original downtown perch. The sign came to symbolize one of Canada’s most storied and successful Jewish family businesses.
  • Is $4,000 too much to ask for a non-member to be buried in a synagogue cemetery?
  • "Let’s not fall into the simplistic us/them dichotomy of 'we were just minding our business when they started firing rockets at us.' We were not just minding our business. We were building settlements, manning checkpoints, and filling jails." What do you think?
  • PHOTOS: 10,000 Israel supporters gathered for a solidarity rally near the United Nations in New York yesterday.
  • Step into the Iron Dome with Tuvia Tenenbom.
  • What do you think of Wonder Woman's new look?
  • "She said that Ruven Barkan, a Conservative rabbi, came into her classroom, closed the door and turned out the lights. He asked the class of fourth graders to lie on the floor and relax their bodies. Then, he asked them to pray for abused children." Read Paul Berger's compelling story about a #Savannah community in turmoil:
  • “Everything around me turns orange, then a second of silence, then a bomb goes off!" First installment of Walid Abuzaid’s account of the war in #Gaza:
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?

We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.