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Prince Harry and Meghan’s ethical investment business deal: Aussie Ethic founders humble upbringing

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Two young Aussies are the masterminds of an ethical investment company the Duke and Duchess of Sussex have invested in. 

Johny Mair and his business partner Doug Scott left their homes in Queensland and Victoria as young men with ambitions of conquering Wall Street.

Both enjoyed a modest upbringing in Australia before moving overseas. 

Mr Mair grew up in a housing commission home with ‘little money’ while Mr Scott was raised on the outskirts of Melbourne in a region constantly under threat of bushfires in Australia’s often unforgiving climate.

Two states separated them as boys, but both have credited their families for raising them to be confident and socially and environmentally conscious.

Both men worked at Deutsche Bank for several years and, along with their colleague, Briton Jay Lipman, eventually branched out on their own to create a business more suited to their values.

The co-founders of Ethic, Johny Mair (pictured left) and Jay Lipman, say they ‘love hippies’ to invest with them, because the team consider themselves hippies too

Mr Mair tried his hand at several startups before settling on Ethic, including launching a toilet paper brand called Sh**ter which printed the entire contents of a person's Twitter feed onto a white cotton roll of toilet paper

Mr Mair tried his hand at several startups before settling on Ethic, including launching a toilet paper brand called Sh**ter which printed the entire contents of a person’s Twitter feed onto a white cotton roll of toilet paper

The trio launched Ethic in 2015, a startup which assists wealthy clients in ethically investing their money, with a focus on issues like climate change and human rights.

This week the billion-dollar empire got an even greater boost, signing Prince Harry and Meghan Markle on board as ‘impact partners’. 

It’s not yet clear what the Sussexes role as ‘impact partners’ will be, but it is expected to be a supercharged brand ambassador gig.

It is the couple’s latest move in their efforts to build what experts believe could be a $1billion brand in the US after quitting the Royal Family for independence and to earn their own money. 

The Sussexes have not said how much of their fortune they have invested in the £1.3billion investment fund, having been introduced to the founders by a mutual friend. 

For the two Aussies at the helm, signing the Royal couple is a major coup.  

Ethic was founded in 2015 by Briton Jay Lipman and Australian friends Doug Scott and Johny Mair (pictured left to right). All three worked in investment banking, including funds investing in oil, before setting up their $2.4billion fund in New York

Ethic was founded in 2015 by Briton Jay Lipman and Australian friends Doug Scott and Johny Mair (pictured left to right). All three worked in investment banking, including funds investing in oil, before setting up their $2.4billion fund in New York

Mr Mair's work ethic saw him rise through the ranks quickly wherever he went and he moved from team to team until he felt he found his niche

Mr Mair’s work ethic saw him rise through the ranks quickly wherever he went and he moved from team to team until he felt he found his niche

This week the billion-dollar empire got an even greater boost, signing Prince Harry and Meghan Markle on board as 'impact partners'. It's not yet clear what the Sussexes role as 'impact partners' will be, but it is expected to be a supercharged brand ambassador gig

This week the billion-dollar empire got an even greater boost, signing Prince Harry and Meghan Markle on board as ‘impact partners’. It’s not yet clear what the Sussexes role as ‘impact partners’ will be, but it is expected to be a supercharged brand ambassador gig

Mr Mair tried his hand at several startups before settling on Ethic, including launching a toilet paper brand called Sh**ter which printed the entire contents of a person’s Twitter feed onto a white cotton roll of toilet paper.

He credits his father for giving him the confidence to follow his dreams – no matter how risky they might’ve felt.

‘Dad was a big influence… He taught me that rules were meant to be broken and even as a child treated me like an equal, always asking my opinion regardless of topic,’ he said in a blog post in 2014.

In the same self-published piece, Mr Mair revealed he was raised in ‘housing commission with little money’ and his parents divorced when he was still young.

As the middle child of the family, Mr Mair recalls feeling as though he was ‘always in the middle’.

Mr Mair, who worked upwards of 80-hour weeks as a labourer in his youth, quit his job at 22 to pursue a career in technology - a totally foreign industry to anything he'd ever done before

Mr Mair, who worked upwards of 80-hour weeks as a labourer in his youth, quit his job at 22 to pursue a career in technology – a totally foreign industry to anything he’d ever done before

Mr Mair shared this photo as he said he credits his father for giving him the confidence to follow his dreams - no matter how risky they might've felt

Mr Mair shared this photo as he said he credits his father for giving him the confidence to follow his dreams – no matter how risky they might’ve felt

Mr Mair, who worked upwards of 80-hour weeks as a labourer in his youth, quit his job at 22 to pursue a career in technology – a totally foreign industry to anything he’d ever done before.

By the time he got a job three months later, he was so broke he could barely afford a takeaway McDonald’s meal.

Now at the helm of a business managing an estimated $AUD2.4billion, Mr Mair ‘vividly recalls’ his colleagues inviting him for a beer on his first week.

He had to make up an excuse not to go because he was ‘down to [his] last $20’.

Mr Mair’s work ethic saw him rise through the ranks quickly wherever he went and he moved from team to team until he felt he found his niche.

At one company, Mr Mair said he worked for free for four months from 6.30am to 9am before starting his own job in a different department to prove just how much he wanted a transfer.

‘I’m not scared of new challenges or risk taking,’ he said. ‘By no means am I a genius, but I am smart enough for my intelligence to not be a problem.’ 

Meghan and Harry are becoming 'impact partners' and investors at sustainable investing firm Ethic

Jay's mother Marilyn and eldest son Stef, 37, spoke to MailOnline today and said: 'He’s a fun-loving hippie banker. He might not say it himself but that’s what he is'

Meghan and Harry are becoming ‘impact partners’ and investors at sustainable investing firm Ethic. Mr Lipman’s mother Marilyn and eldest son Stef, 37, spoke to MailOnline and said: ‘He’s a fun-loving hippie banker. He might not say it himself but that’s what he is’

Pictured: Mr Scott (left) and Mr Lipman (right) at an event that Mr Scott was speaking at

Pictured: Mr Scott (left) and Mr Lipman (right) at an event that Mr Scott was speaking at

Johny Mair’s key qualities for success 

In a blog post back in 2014 – before Mr Mair had even launched Ethic – he revealed a list of key qualities he considered necessary for success.

Sense of humor 

‘This is a quality you need if you want to keep your sanity,’ Mr Mair said.

He revealed a business idea once stemmed from a ‘joke club’ he established among friends.

They created a business, ‘Sh**ter’ printing entire Twitter feeds onto toilet paper for a laugh.

Empathy 

‘Having experienced quite a bit in my life, I feel this helps me understand people. Having empathy is one of the most important skills for understanding people whether it be the users of your product, colleagues or more generally just being a good human being. 

‘I have had my heart broken. I was a middle child…..always in the middle. My parents are divorced. I have lost someone close to me. I have fallen in love. I have worked 80+ hours a week. I have worked as laborer. I have worked on a trading floor next to millionaires. I have lost money. I have made money. I have made bad decisions. I have followed my heart and won……and been burnt. I grew up in housing commission with little money. I have been on the front page of Reddit. I have played music in front of a crowd. I have raced motorbikes. I have spoken in front of 2000+ people. I have travelled all over the world. I have lost all my photos off my computer (pre-cloud). I have broken 3 bones. I have had surgery. I have been shat on by a bird.’

Dedication

‘I have driven 12 hours in a car and slept at a truck stop on the day of an interview… worked till 3am every night for 3 weeks to get a product out the door,’ Mr Mair said.

Adventurous / Risk taking 

‘I am not scared of new challenges or risk taking. On 3 occasions I have packed up my life by myself and moved to a new city in another country in search of opportunity. I have quit jobs with no idea where the next opportunity would be. I have travelled by myself. It’s always scary but it’s been so rewarding all throughout my life.’

His other key qualities for success are: 

Self Starter 

Curious  

Passionate 

Persistence

Naivety

Intelligence 

Meanwhile Mr Scott was raised on the outskirts of Melbourne and grew up with two socially and politically conscious parents who encouraged him to develop his own values.

In early 2020, the 33-year-old shared a video not far from his hometown, revealing the region had been decimated by Australia’s worst bushfire season on record. 

‘This is the area that I grew up in and where my parents still live,’ he said.

He revealed the region was ‘constantly under a bushfire threat’ and that he grew up ‘on high alert every summer’.

Being raised in such a volatile natural environment helped to shape Mr Scott; who upon completing high school studied a Bachelor of Commerce and Engineering double degree at the University of Melbourne. He graduated with first class honours.

Mr Scott moved to the US and landed a role at Deutsche Bank, conducting financial and strategic analysis. It’s understood this is where he met Mr Mair and Mr Lipman.

The royal couple say they were introduced to Ethic by friends. The investment firm has a $2.4billion fund and only invests in firms it deems fair and green

The royal couple say they were introduced to Ethic by friends. The investment firm has a $2.4billion fund and only invests in firms it deems fair and green

The Sussexes have not said how much of their fortune they have invested in the £1.3billion investment fund, having been introduced to the founders by a mutual friend

The Sussexes have not said how much of their fortune they have invested in the £1.3billion investment fund, having been introduced to the founders by a mutual friend

‘I was working with incredibly talented and driven people, who cared about the work involved with our clients. It just didn’t sit well with my value set,’ he said.

By 2015, he, along with Mr Lipman and Mr Mair, were ready to go it alone. They  launched Ethic, bright-eyed and hopeful it would herald a new dawn of conscious wealth investment.

The New York-based fintech asset manager has a laid back workplace common in tech firms on the west coast of the US and pumps money into companies with what they deem acceptable environmental and social goals.

Ethic, which was set up by the two men along with Briton Jay Lipman – a red-haired Prince Harry lookalike from London now settled in the US – ‘loves hippies’ to invest with them, because the team, several of whom worked for JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs, consider themselves hippies too.  

Ethic's 'staff' included a number of dogs, including Roux and Gigi, apparently responsible for 'security', and Byron, pictured, who is named 'Chief Smile Officer'

Ethic’s ‘staff’ included a number of dogs, including Roux and Gigi, apparently responsible for ‘security’, and Byron, pictured, who is named ‘Chief Smile Officer’

Also included in the ranks are Roux and Gigi, two dogs supposedly responsible for ‘security’, and Byron, who is appointed the ‘Chief Smile Officer’. 

Harry and Meghan announced their latest tie-up with a statement on their Archewell website which read: ‘When we invest in each other we change the world’.

And in a joint interview with the New York Times, Meghan, a multi-millionaire former actress who lives with her royal husband and children in a $14million LA mansion, said: ‘From the world I come from, you don’t talk about investing, right? You don’t have the luxury to invest. That sounds so fancy.’

She added: ‘My husband has been saying for years: ”Gosh, don’t you wish there was a place where if your values were aligned like this, you could put your money to that same sort of thing?”,’ adding the couple were introduced to Ethic by friends. 

It is not yet clear how much they invested ‘earlier this year’ or if they are being paid a salary for their ‘impact partner’ roles.

Ethic claims to only invest in businesses that meet its ‘social responsibility criteria’, including on racial justice, climate change and workplace standards such as gender equality and fair pay.

In early 2020, the 33-year-old shared a video not far from his hometown, revealing the region had been decimated by Australia's worst bushfire season on record

In early 2020, the 33-year-old shared a video not far from his hometown, revealing the region had been decimated by Australia’s worst bushfire season on record

Mr Lipman, a University of Edinburgh graduate, claims clients make just as much money with them as those putting money into more traditional portfolios including fossil fuels and tobacco companies. 

Ethic said it was thrilled to be welcoming the couple.

Harry and Meghan ‘share a lot of values with us, and we suspect, with many of you as well.

‘That’s why we’re so excited that they’re joining us as impact partners,’ a statement on its website said.

It said the Sussexes wanted to ‘shine a light on how we can all impact the causes that affect our communities’.

‘They’re deeply committed to helping address the defining issues of our time-such as climate, gender equity, health, racial justice, human rights, and strengthening democracy and understand that these issues are inherently interconnected,’ it added.

‘So much so, in fact, that they became investors in Ethic earlier this year and have investments managed by Ethic as well.’

In the same self-published piece, Mr Mair revealed he was raised in 'housing commission with little money' and his parents divorced when he was still young

In the same self-published piece, Mr Mair revealed he was raised in ‘housing commission with little money’ and his parents divorced when he was still young

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