Lily & Piper | Impact should not be an investment trend. It’s part of a wider picture.
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Impact should not be an investment trend. It’s part of a wider picture.

Impact should not be an investment trend. It’s part of a wider picture.

We have been involved in Impact Investing in the UK now for three years, as co-founders of one of the UK’s largest regular meetings for Impact Investors with the Social Stock Exchange.

While we hope the UK trend towards positive outcomes maintains, we did read this week of a waning interest in cleantech in the VC community in the US.  It’s never been a secret that VC funding can be a fair weather friend, and if you were to try and sniff out a wolf in sheep clothing amongst those who hail Impact as a driver for investing, it is within a small corner of the VC community where you could maybe start. They seem to have been distracted by the word Unicorn of late.

In the last three years a beguiling way of accessing investment from a family office or HNWI was to declare that a company or fund was ‘impact’. One colleague cheekily coined those who were in it mainly to attract the investment as ‘virtue signallers’. In addition the term Impact has begged the question of how you accurately measure it to allow those to be truly rewarded for achieving milestones that will benefit generations to come. There are smaller incentives for long term outcomes. However, in the event frustration ensues because of the returns not meeting expectations, we really hope ‘Peak Impact’ is not something that ever takes place.

We strongly believe Impact should not be seen as an investment trend. It has always been our hope when we started our community that it would become known as purely ‘investing’. We were excited to see the potential for it to continue as a force but as a moving part of a wider  systemic approach led by TIIP.

On that note, our next event on Thursday 5th October A Step Beyond Impact delves into the systemic approach.  Asset managers rightly strive to understand the big picture and Impact as a goal has become just one of the moving components in an uncertain future that needs to be made more certain. Our world is increasingly volatile and environmental outcomes need to sit alongside technological and social ones.

We are delighted to announce special moderation and support for this dynamic with The Investment Integration Project (TIIP)  — a growing global platform bringing together asset owners, managers, and advisors to leverage market analysis, data, and tools to accelerate system-level investing.

This event will build on the findings from TIIP’s previously published report:

Tipping Points 2016: Summary of 50 Asset Owners’ and Managers’ Approaches to Investing in Global Systems 

…and will draw from its forthcoming publication

Effective Investing for the Long Term: Intentionality at Systems Levels. 

During the session, William Burckart, TIIP’s President from New York, will examine this new thinking as it becomes a part of the investment industry.

You can register for our first event, integrating Impact into a bigger picture, here. For this event we bring our Impact community into a wider context of other very potent issues institutional managers are facing right now when representing their client portfolios.

Burkhart will also be joined by Prof. Robert Eccles   — Visiting Professor of Management Practice at Oxford’s Saïd Business School, the Founding Chairman of the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB), and one of the founders of the International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC)—and other leading investors to explore why asset owners are increasingly demanding the integration of impact and ESG factors and are extending this interest to influence system-level considerations.

The discussion will also unpack the challenges and opportunities that asset managers face when attempting to bridge the divide between portfolio decision-making and system-level thinking.

You can register here to apply to attend, and be comforted that you can have a sensible conversation about impact investing, which should always include the aim of positive environmental and social outcomes, within a wider context.

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