General treasurer candidate advises student investors

Seth Magaziner ’06 looks to address R.I. pension system, unemployment rate as general treasurer

Staff Writer
Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Seth Magaziner ’06, a candidate for R.I. general treasurer, tells students to consider social and political factors that may affect investments.

“I think we are due for a shake-up,” said Seth Magaziner ’06, candidate for Rhode Island general treasurer, at a Brown Socially Responsible Investment Fund meeting Tuesday night.

Rhode Island’s pension system and high unemployment rate stand out as critical issues that need to be addressed by the next general treasurer, Magaziner said in his remarks at SRIF’s meeting in Wilson 305.

Magaziner is the son of Clinton administration adviser and Open Curriculum architect Ira Magaziner ’69 P’06 P’07.

SRIF chooses to buy and sell stocks in companies that are socially responsible, basing its decisions  on presentations that members put together, said Arielle Schacter ’16, social chair of SRIF. She added that they use these presentations as an educational tool to learn about social responsibility and finance.

The event was small and personal — Magaziner spoke informally to a room of about 15 students. The tone was light-hearted as Magaziner asked members what stocks they like to follow and offered to connect students with internship positions on his campaign or with connections in the socially responsible investment field.

Magaziner discussed his experience with Trillium Asset Management LLC, an investment advisory firm, as he gave investment advice to audience members.

“You gotta walk a line,” Magaziner said when asked about mediating between different values of clients during the question-and-answer portion of the event. Trillium offered different “styles” of investing — for example, specialized styles for Christian clients, he said.

Trillium professionals “tried not to make it too laundry list-y” in crafting investment options for clients, Magaziner said, emphasizing the importance of looking at the bigger picture when making investment decisions.

Drawing a graph on the board, Magaziner also illustrated ways to compare social and financial factors that could affect investing. Audience members participated by listing environmental implications that might affect energy companies, such as government regulation and pollution.

“There are certain things about Rhode Island that have been really out of whack,” Magaziner said when asked about pressing issues in the state.

Twenty-five percent of the Rhode Island population either does not have a bank account or is dependent on predatory financial services, such as payday loans with excessively high interest rates, he said. “The problem lies in people not having access to affordable financial services.”

Providence should be able to share in the economic growth that Boston has experienced, Magaziner said, noting that Rhode Island has regained only a third of its jobs lost during the last recession.

“I do think we have a lot of potential here,” he said, adding that the Ocean State has a unique opportunity to become a center for entrepreneurship.

Brown students have “a tremendous amount of talent,” Magaziner told The Herald after the event. Students at the University are the kind of leaders he would want on his campaign, he added.

Magaziner’s background in socially responsible investing would provide him with an understanding of how to make a positive impact if he were elected General Treasurer, Schacter said.

“Hopefully (Magaziner’s talk will) generate interest in the club, but also in the speaker,” Schacter said.

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