When I bring up impact investing (or sustainable investing or ESG) with my peers in my day job I tend to get polite nods and blank expressions. There has been the occasional eye roll as well. I don’t blame them for their reactions. I have to admit that I’ve suppressed an eye roll myself when pitched the latest fund that promises to solve the world’s problems AND deliver top tier returns. Why? I know how hard it is to deliver consistent top tier returns and most asset managers can’t do it. My healthy skepticism does not stop at the door of impact investing. In fact, it grows stronger. Whatever moniker, sustainability is the “new” bright and shiny object of the asset management industry. Product proliferation is rampant.
$22.9 trillion assets under management are being professionally managed under responsible investment strategies according to the Global Sustainable Investment Alliance, 2016 Global Sustainable Review and growing. A Google search of impact investing fills 10+ pages of search data. I remember doing the same search eight, five, and even three years ago with nowhere near those results. Even so, traditionally trained finance professionals are usually not buyers. Having been one myself, I do not shun the need for proof of concept and product. Standards are important to separate the green washing from the legitimate analysis. As with many aspects of investing, there is still a lot we can learn.
Imagine my surprise one Saturday on a return trip to Grand Central Station with classmates, shortly after we started in the EMBA program, to learn of our shared interest in impact investing. And they were on the asset management track no less, not sustainability. That day we decided to share what we learn with others by launching a podcast that allows access dealmakers, structures of deals, and the impacted called Impact on Record. We are eight episodes in with several more to post and an exciting pipeline of guests.
The support we have received from Yale SOM and the impact investing community has been humbling and inspiring. As others have mentioned on the blog, the power of the Yale SOM name and network grows with each graduating class. Before my Impact on Record team and I join the alumni network in May, we still have a lot we want to do. Stay tuned…
Check out Impact on Record at:
Jenny Chan and Impact on Record