Our Team

Our team has experience in financial services and academia.  We are a company that is passionate about the triple bottom line – people, planet and profits.

Corporate

Sam Adams: Chief Executive Officer

I met Dan Wheeler in the early 90’s when he was pioneering a revolution in the financial services industry. He was educating financial advisors to switch their business models from selling investment products to giving real advice.

It seemed obvious this was a better way of doing business even though it wasn’t the way things were done. So, I joined Dan at Dimensional Fund Advisors and we began changing minds, one at a time.  Now, real investment advice is offered instead of product sales at tens of thousands of advisory firms around the world.  As a result, investors are much better off, and have more secure financial futures than they would have.  Not only are the investors better off, but the advisors’ businesses are more successful. The lesson is powerful; helping people is good business.

More and more industries are learning this lesson. Companies are choosing to act in more sustainable ways by operating with concern for the environment, the health and wellbeing of people, as well as for profit. Again, it seems obvious this is better way of doing business even though it’s not the way things were done.  20th century capitalism became defined as an exploitative enterprise that focused on profits above all else. 21st century capitalism promises to be more balanced in the pursuit of a triple bottom line for people, planet and profits.

I formed Vert so advisors and investors can benefit from this revolution in capitalism. I create investment solutions and educational resources for sustainable investors.

I have a BA from University of Colorado, Boulder and an MBA from UC Davis Graduate School of Management.

The sustainable choice that is the most fun for me:
Buying organic. I’m creating more demand for sustainable agriculture, and it feels healthier too.

What I’d like to see more of in the world:
Communities designed for walking and biking.

Sam Adams CEO

Sarah Adams: Chief Sustainability Officer

I started in financial services at a boutique brokerage firm during the late 90s dotcom boom. I liked finance but wanted more academic grounding and I found this at institutional asset managers Dimensional Fund Advisors and GMO (Grantham Mayo Van Otterloo). Thinking environmental issues would come to be pertinent for my generation (but not knowing much about them) I studied human rights approaches to environmental protection earning two masters degrees in environmental law and policy. I worked with a handful of UK non-profit groups on environmental advocacy in finance including the WWF, Forum for the Future and UnLtd. Seeing a need for retail financial services to engage with environmental and social issues, I started a consulting firm educating financial advisors on sustainable and impact investments in the UK and US.

At Vert, I focus on marketing, operations, sustainability and engagement. My role builds on my experience in both finance and environmental advocacy.

I have a BA in History from UCLA, a MSc in Environment and Sustainable Development from University College London (UCL), and a MA in Environmental Law from SOAS (School of African and Oriental Studies).

The sustainable choice that is the most fun for me:
Commuting by bike

What I’d like to see more of in the world:
Green spaces and farming in cities

Advisory Board

Brad Barber, Ph.D.: Advisory Board

Brad Barber is the Gallagher Professor of Finance, Associate Dean of Academic Affairs, and Director of the Center for Investor Welfare and Corporate Responsibility at the Graduate School of Management, UC Davis.

Professor Barber was the 2016 Vice President-Program for the Financial Management Association. He is Principal Investigator for the CalPERS Sustainable Research Initiative (SIRI) and founder of the annual Napa Conference on Financial Markets Research. He served as the finance department editor for Management Science from 2009-2012.

Professor Barber has been recognized as one of the fifty most-cited financial economists in the world (ranking 38th in on recent citation survey). See Professor Barber’s Google Scholar page for links to his research.

Professor Barber’s current research focuses on asset pricing, behavioral finance, and gender. He has written numerous scholarly articles, which have appeared in top academic publications including the Journal of Finance, Journal of Financial Economics, Review of Financial Studies, Journal of Political Economy, Quarterly Journal of Economics, American Sociological Review, Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, and the Financial Analyst Journal. His research has been covered extensively in the financial press, including Business Week, Time, The Wall Street Journal, ABC News, NBC Nightly News, CNN, CNNfn, and CNBC.

Professor Barber received his Ph.D. in finance from the University of Chicago in 1991. He also received an MBA from the University of Chicago and a B.S. in Economics from the University of Illinois. At UC Davis, he teaches introductory finance to MBA students.

The sustainable choice that is the most fun for me:
Xeriscape, living and eating local

What I’d like to see more of in the world:
Clean air, clean water, truth and kindness

John Elkington: Advisory Board

John Elkington is a writer and thinker, a serial-entrepreneur and an ‘advisor from the future’.  He is Co-Founder and Executive Chairman of Volans, a change agency, that aims to stretch leaders – towards “Breakthrough”; that is, to look beyond incremental change towards systemic challenges.

John is leading a 2-year program in partnership with the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC) focussing on the market opportunities around exponential sustainability, titled Project Breakthrough.

John is also Honorary Chairman of SustainAbility, and sits on an A-Z of some 30 boards and advisory boards. He has written 19 books, and his latest is co-authored with Jochen Zeitz, former CEO of PUMA and now co-chair, with Sir Richard Branson, of The B Team. The book, entitled “The Breakthrough Challenge: 10 Ways to Connect Today’s Profits with Tomorrow’s Bottom Line” comes full circle from John’s 1997 “Cannibals with Forks”, where he first introduced the Triple Bottom Line concept.  John published The Stretch Agenda in 2015 – a dramatisation spotlighting top team dynamics and conversations in the fictional boardroom of a major global company, and their exploration of the opportunity spaces in the decade running 2016-2025. Volans have labeled this period The Breakthrough Decade.

The sustainable choice that is the most fun for me:
The sustainable choice that exercised me for 40 years was London cycling, except that it was borderline sustainable for me. After yet another serious accident, I stopped cycling two years ago – but miss it intently.

What I’d like to see more of in the world:
More cyclists, more cycle lanes – and more laws that make hitting pedestrians and cyclists in a car a serious crime resulting in heavy fine and long term driving ban. That’s something the Dutch have already done.


Daniel M. Wheeler: Advisory Board

Dan founded Dimensional Fund Advisors Financial Advisor Services group, and has been instrumental in bringing modern portfolio theory to the community of fee-only financial advisors.  Throughout his career, Dan has helped build the advisor community and change investment advice in retail markets, transforming what was a broker-driven system into one of financial education and coaching.

Prior to his arrival at Dimensional, Dan worked at Arthur Anderson & Co., was the controller of Triad International Marketing S.A., a London-based consulting firm, and owned a fee-only investment advisory firm.  A former officer in the US Marine Corps who still maintains a very active lifestyle, Dan was educated at William Jewell College, the University of South Florida, and the University of California, Berkeley.

Having resigned from Dimensional in October 2010, Dan remains passionate about the need for change.  He created his blog, WheelerWrites.com, to write about self-evident truths that get buried by those whose self-interest is threatened by the truth.

The sustainable choice that is the most fun for me:
Driving my electric cars

What I’d like to see more of in the world:
For me it’s all about eliminating pollution.  I remember swimming in Lake Michigan as a boy and diving in next to a skull and crossbones sign.  I remember going to Chicago and having to wipe the airborne ashes off my face. I remember my eyes burning when I visited my grandfather in Illinois. We’ve made great progress, but I’d like to see less pollution and more clean energy.

Investment Research Group

Vert works with experts to build products with strong empirical foundations in academic research. The Group’s ESG research drives a disciplined rules-based process to deliver funds that achieve investor’s twin goals of sustainability and market rates of return.

Franz Fuerst, Ph.D.: Investment Research Group

Franz is Director of Studies and a Reader (Associate Professor) in Housing and Real Estate Finance at the University of Cambridge and Trinity Hall, Cambridge. He is principal investigator on a number of international research projects and coordinates a team of doctoral and postdoctoral researchers.

Previous academic posts include Associate Professor in Real Estate Economics at the University of Reading, Research Associate at the City University of New York and the Technical University of Berlin.

Outside of academia, he has worked for BNP Paribas Real Estate where he was responsible for market research and forecasting. Franz has authored and co-authored several widely cited and award-winning studies on the economics of green buildings and the economic value of energy efficiency in real estate markets. His expertise and research interests are principally in the area of green real estate economics, financial analysis of sustainable investments, portfolio and risk management and spatial economics.

In 2016/17, he works as a visiting professor at the University of Melbourne to investigate the health and well-being impacts of sustainability and links to green real estate finance in an Australian context.

The sustainable choice that is the most fun for me:
Bike commuting along the beach

What I’d like to see more of in the world:
Affordable green technology going global

Gary Pivo, Ph.D.: Investment Research Group

I am a professor of real estate, urban planning and natural resources at the University of Arizona. Since 2002, I’ve been studying how real estate professionals can, as Ben Franklin put it, “do well by doing good”. Some colleagues tell me I founded the field of “responsible property investing“, but I’d rather say I was just one of those all around the world working to bring sustainability and impact investing to real estate. To that end I’ve published research showing how we can measure sustainable and responsible property investing and how it can perform financially as well or better than conventional choices.

I’m pleased my research has had an impact. It’s been referenced in hundreds of scientific papers and dozens of reports produced by the Federal Reserve Bank, The Economist, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and others. It’s even received the prestigious Legacy Award from the editors of the American Real Estate Society Journal of Real Estate Research.

To make sustainable and responsible real estate a more permanent option, I helped found the UN Environment Programme Finance Initiative Property Working Group and the Urban Land Institute Responsible Property Investment Council. I also helped create basic data infrastructure for the field such as the Real Capital Analytics & Walk Score Commercial Property Price Indices, the National Council of Real Estate Fiduciaries Green/Sustainability Data Set, and the Global Reporting Initiative Construction & Real Estate Sector Supplement. Previously, I served as a university dean and department head and recently I became Co-Director of a new National Science Foundation Sustainability Research Network.

I first suggested creating a sustainable REIT fund in a 2005 speech to the international conference that wrote the Principles for Responsible Investing. The PRI has become the world’s leading proponent of responsible investment and I am thrilled to be helping Vert Asset Management become the world’s leading proponent of sustainable REIT investing.

The sustainable choice that is the most fun for me:
A “locatarian” meal with family and friends.

What I’d like to see more of in the world:
Rain gardens, living green walls, urban forests, and restored urban streams.  .