By now, most of us have heard of Impact Investing – the notion the investors can both do well and do good through their investing activities. Early innovators in the space included endowments and foundations who were looking for investments that aligned with the mission of their organizations, and this was later followed by online platforms, such as Kiva.org, that allow individuals to make an impact by providing micro-loans to small businesses across the globe. Today, the industry is larger and more sophisticated in its approach, and is receiving investments from large institutional investors and individual investors alike.
Based on a recent search of Google Trends, the concept is clearly gaining in popularity. The following chart shows general search trend activity for the term “Impact Investing”:
What is Impact Investing?
A primer on impact investing from the World Economic Forum describes impact investing as follows:
Impact Investing – an investment approach intentionally seeking to create both nancial returns and positive social impact that is actively measured – has been lauded as an innovative investment strategy with the potential to reconcile key structural shortcomings in traditional nancial markets.
Impact investing can take many forms, and includes investments made in asset classes such as real estate, infrastructure and small business. It can also include equity and debt investments made directly or through a wide range of investment vehicles. In total, the 2014 report notes that assets in this category of assets exceeds $50 billion, and continues to rise.
One key player in the impact investing market is ImpactAssets, a Bethesda, Maryland based nonprofit that helps increase the flow of capital to impact investing. And to better achieve their objective, the organization recently made a pair of key organizational changes:
- Scott Nance, who joins ImpactAssets from ARK Global, will be the firm’s Head of Business Development; and
- Amy Bennett, who joined the firm in 2015, will serve as Director of Marketing.
“I am thrilled to join ImpactAssets, a pioneer in democratizing impact investing,” said Mr. Nance in a recent statement. “The firm is uniquely suited to connect financial advisors and their clients with innovative impact investing products that are a ‘win-win’ proposition for investors and mission-related projects.”
In his new role, Mr. Nance will be responsible for leading the distribution strategy of the firm’s innovative products, which include:
- The Giving Fund: a donor-advised fund that puts more money to work for social and environmental benefit; and
- The ImpactAssets Microfinance Plus and ImpactAssets Global Sustainable Agriculture notes: Five-year debt securities diversified across borrowers, geographies and maturities, with a target interest rate range of 2.75% to 3%, that can be held in brokerage accounts.
Prior to joining ImpactAssets, Mr. Nance was a Principal at ARK Global. Prior to that, he led and managed sales and distribution efforts for several financial organizations, including Equinox Fund Management, Robeco, Bank of America and Welton Investment Partners.
“I look forward to working with our talented leadership team to deepen awareness of our product set and expand access to impact investing,” said Ms. Bennett, in the statement. “ImpactAssets is an iconic leader in impact investing, and our marketing and communications efforts will play a vital role in further growing our brand and our impact.”
In her new and expanded role, Ms. Bennett will oversee the strategic direction of all marketing at ImpactAssets. Prior to joining the firm, she was the leader of marketing and strategy for Altegris, and she has also managed key marketing functions at Guggenheim Investments, BlackRock, and Barclays Global Investors.
“We are seeing a surge in interest as impact investing grows beyond early adopters,” said ImpactAssets President Tim Freundlich. “Scott and Amy will play a critical role in helping advisors, private offices and individual investors gain access to the unique impact products, information and thought leadership that we offer. It’s an exciting time at ImpactAssets and we are thrilled to have these experienced leaders on our team.”
Jason Seagraves contributed to this article.