Investing with impact summit - 10th october 2019
Representatives from Linchpin attended the excellent Investing With Impact Summit last Thursday. Organised by Pensions for Purpose and DG Publishing, it was twice as large and lasted twice as long as last year. It was probably the hottest pension fund date in town this year and didn’t disappoint. Here are some of the learning points we took away from it. Impact investment has come a long way in 12 months. We’d hesitate to say it was mainstream but there is an acceptance that pension funds can legitimately look for more than just a financial return. The LGPS Funds seem to be in the vanguard of the movement. There are still arguments about what constitutes impact investment. Is it enough for a company to be aligned with one or more of the U.N.’s sustainable development goals? Or does it require an intention to make a positive or social difference, as per the PLSA’s definition? And if the latter, can companies on the secondary markets truly be called impact investments? The scale of most impact investment is quite small, while pension funds with limited governance budgets want investments of greater scale. We were struck by the number of smaller managers attending and the relative absence of investment consultants. Given that they are often the gatekeepers to pension funds, are the latter missing a trick? We were also struck that the audience gender mix appeared to be at least 50% female. It is a huge contrast to a couple of other mainstream fund manager events we have attended this year where attendance was 95% male. There is a substantial good news story on several fronts, which is being drowned out by the howls of climate change protesters. There is more to be done, without doubt, but the industry needs to make sure the world know what we are doing. Otherwise we risk being seen as the enemy. Could we invite some of the crusties outside to join us next year?