In January 2021, Starbucks announced new initiatives as part of its long-standing commitment to use its scale and platform to positively impact the communities it serves.
By 2025, the Starbucks Community Resilience Fund will invest $100 million to advance racial equity and environmental resilience by supporting small business growth and community development projects in neighborhoods with historically limited access to capital. The investments will initially focus on 12 U.S. metropolitan areas and their surrounding regions: Atlanta, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis, New Orleans, New York City, Philadelphia, San Francisco Bay Area, Seattle, and Washington, D.C.
In partnership with community leaders, CDFIs, and other impact-focused financial institutions, the Fund will help provide access to capital intended to support small businesses and neighborhood projects, including those addressing the inequitable impacts of climate change.
“Starbucks is investing in the survival of small business by working with CDFIs in key cities across America. CDFIs deliver affordable credit as well as training on disaster recovery and rebuilding – and that is exactly what small businesses need right now to withstand ongoing economic and climate changes,” said OFN President and CEO Lisa Mensah. “With partners like Starbucks and CDFIs, these small businesses will have a fighting chance to recover, rebuild, hire workers, and serve their local economy.”
YourStake.org and the First Affirmative Financial Network (FAFN) recently announced a new partnership to equip the sustainable, responsible, and impact (SRI) investing pioneer and their large US network of SRI/environmental, social, and governance (ESG)-specialist advisors with the field-tested YourStake impact reporting solution. Active First Affirmative Network Members will be able to access the YourStake.org suite of services at a substantial discount.
When advisors talk with clients about social and environmental impact, abstract ESG scores don’t suffice. Clients don’t resonate with a simple number score in the same way that they resonate with tangible metrics and stories. And as advisors offer more personalized ESG portfolios, the greater the challenge to convey that sophistication to a layperson client, in intuitive terms they can quickly grasp. Launched at the 2019 SRI Conference, YourStake.org’s suite of tools help financial advisors walk a client through their sustainable investing journey.
Patrick Reed, Chief Executive Officer of YourStake.org, said, “First Affirmative already provides their members with extensively customizable ESG portfolios, and we are excited to provide FAFN advisors with enhanced reporting on how their portfolios create tangible impact aligned with client values.”
Advisors can leverage the expertly crafted YourStake.org questionnaires to reveal true client preferences. Those preferences then serve as the basis for a wide range of impact reports, including side-by-side comparisons and relatable narratives, such as “how many fewer asthma attacks” or “how many more meetings led by women” are tied to a certain amount of investment in a sustainable portfolio. All of YourStake.org’s data is fully transparent and communicable – for example, advisors can click to ‘look-through’ the number of asthma attacks to see what companies are held by funds in a portfolio that are linked to air pollution, what amounts of pollution and chemicals come from each of their factories, and what peer reviewed scientific articles relate air pollution to public health outcomes.
Theresa Gusman, Chief Investment Officer of First Affirmative, says, “The number of ESG investors is growing rapidly, and First Affirmative has been at the forefront assisting sustainable wealth managers since 1988. With this partnership, we are delighted to be advancing the forefront of the SRI ecosystem by enabling advisors to communicate to clients the impact their investments are making.”
The YourStake impact reporting features complement First Affirmative’s recently introduced AffirmativESG advisor workstation and its sophisticated portfolio selection process. AffirmativESG allows advisors to work with their clients to build custom portfolios reflecting the client’s financial objectives and unique environmental, social, and ethical values and beliefs. YourStake is particularly well-suited to enable advisors to demonstrate their clients that First Affirmative’s Custom Sustainable Investment Solutions are achieving the desired impact outcomes. Like AffirmativESG, the YourStake platform is intuitive and easy for advisors to use.
Released in 2020, AffirmtivESG employs a sophisticated portfolio construction engine, incorporating eight easily navigable categories of impact preference curated by First Affirmative, with more than 50 sub-categories for further client customization. Companies are placed in these categories following careful vetting using the long-standing research and analysis that sets First Affirmative apart in ESG and SRI, including a proprietary sustainability screen that eliminates poor ESG performers from each industry group. The combination of the First Affirmative and YourStake.org services will enable advisors to deliver standout sustainable investing practices, in a year which has seen immense growth and interest in ESG, with fund inflows exceeding $30 billion this year as of September according to Institutional Investor, an increase of more than four times over 2019.
About YourStake.org YourStake.org was founded to catalyze sustainable investing, by revolutionizing the quality and processing of impact datasets beyond traditional ESG data providers, enabling more people to realize the importance of sustainable investing. Solutions are available for individual RIAs and for enterprises. Contact CEO Patrick Reed at – firstname.lastname@example.org
About the First Affirmative Financial Network Since 1988, First Affirmative has had one mission – to improve investment performance, reduce risk and create a better world by integrating SRI investing with ESG principles. Through their Member Network, First Affirmative helps advisors achieve their clients’ financial and impact objectives, while building a strong community amount its national membership base. Contact Chief Operating Officer Amy Thacker at – email@example.com
The COVID-19 pandemic came in 2020 to reinforce the climate crisis and increase business challenges and risks for investors and C-Suite Executives in several sectors.
Let’s take a look at important trends, based on CSE recent research, which cannot be ignored by organizations. Climate risks, ESG factors for investors, non-economic disclosures, social inequality, ’Circular Economy’ and ‘Carbon Net Zero’ strategies are some of the issues that will be on the top of C-Suite Executives to-do-list of in order to introduce more resilient and sustainable strategies to their organizations for 2021 and beyond.
Here are the Top 10 Trends in sustainable business in 2021:
• Comprehensive consideration of ESG factors and access to capital
In order to mitigate the financial losses of this year, special emphasis will be given on regulating both access to funding and corporate ESG behavior. The trend towards increasing ESG coverage will lead to more disclosures, check and data points. It should be noted that ESG issues are increasingly the focus of investors and regulators in North America.
• Use of ESG ratings and Standards is becoming the norm
Looking at CSE’s latest ESG research in over 600 companies in North America, ESG rating and SASB Standards are increasingly popular to provide information in a manner that is most relevant to their financial stakeholders and investors. Moreover, the TCFD recommendations are gaining traction, as 38% of the top 10 companies are identifying and reporting their climate-related financial risks and opportunities. The number is expected to rise through 2021.
• Climate change risks and transparency
Five years ago, investors committed to align with the Paris Agreement, leading companies into a series of radical changes. Those who still do not disclose environmental data will feel the consequences more than any other year. The organizations that use the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD), for the disclosure of the climate-related financial risk, have doubled compared to 2019.
• Changing Policies in financial institutions
The pressure is now transferred to the Financial Sector, calling on them to adopt strategies to reduce the carbon footprint, with restrictions and the phase out of fossil fuel financing. According to the Institute for Economic Energy and Financial Analysis (IEEFA), 150 major global financial institutions have implemented policies to exit coal, with 65 Financial Institutions committing to stricter lending guidelines.
• Reorganization of the supply chain and production
Many companies have recently faced severe supply shortages due to the pandemic. The closure of production sites, the inability to transport goods and much more led not only to the review of suppliers, but also the production process itself. ESG criteria will be further integrated into the supply chain process.
• Circular economy integration
Perhaps the above could be a prelude to change, as the concept of the Circular Economy is going to be consolidated next year and remodeling the production is what many entrepreneurs should be concerned about. Companies need to move fast towards the new commitments to make all packaging recyclable or reusable by 2025. More than 400 companies have adopted the New Plastic Economy Global Commitment, while companies representing 20% of all plastic packaging produced worldwide have already committed to replacing their packages by 2025.
• Zero Waste
Efforts to eliminate the increased waste problem will continue. This will be achieved through the application of state-of-the-art technology and through an unprecedented level of collaboration and coordination between recyclers, designers, packers, manufacturers, companies and governments. According to the National Zero Waste Conference, there are plans to develop policy recommendations for 2021 based on the new goals of the Biden Administration, while the priority is on the market of recycled products.
• Sustainable materials
In light of the zero waste and the circular economy, the transition from plastic to paper has become an increasingly popular option. The use of aluminum cans is expected to increase just as significantly due to its distinctive features – its durability and the fact that it is light weight.
• Social equality as a source of sustainable business
The crisis of Covid-19 came to rekindle something that had been overlooked throughout the last years- the huge levels of inequality in global wealth. In 2021, it is predicted that investors will engage in approaches with innovative practices that will promote equality and could be a source of sustainable business advantage.
• Biodiversity crisis
The pandemic has reminded us that nature is important not only for human preservation, but also for maintaining the world economy. There will be a transformation in the way investors deal with the loss of biodiversity.
CSE is a leading boutique firm operating globally that specializes in maximizing your business impact in Sustainability and Corporate Responsibility. For more than a decade, we have been helping professionals advance their careers through our certified on-site, online and group training services globally and supporting companies and organizations to grow and excel through Sustainability consulting and coaching.
The two urgent environmental problems that will define this millennium and our lifetimes are climate change and biodiversity loss. Although both are the result of the actions of mankind, they are distinct issues and their consequences are, inextricably linked. The detrimental effects of biodiversity loss contribute to the magnitude of the climate change crisis, while climate change exacerbates biodiversity loss. Examining the nexus of these challenges is valuable to academics, scientists, and investors alike with a shared interest in finding solutions that simultaneously mitigate both challenges while ensuring the future sustainability of the planet.
Why is Biodiversity Important?
Biodiversity sustains ecosystems, supplies oxygen for clean air, protects water and soil, and breaks down pollution and waste. Protecting biodiversity contributes to climate stability through terrestrial and aquatic carbon absorption. Economically, biodiversity is a vital source of raw materials for products in industries such as food, pharmaceuticals, textiles, wood, and energy.1 In essence, biodiversity ensures the sustainability of life on earth.
How Does Climate Change Affect Biodiversity?
Climate change, or global warming, is primarily the result of human activity related to the burning of fossil fuels for electricity, transportation, and household cooking. These gases (composed of carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide) remain in the atmosphere for years, even decades, radiating heat back into the Earth’s atmosphere. This entrapment of radiation results in the warming of the planet’s atmosphere, affecting climate and weather patterns.
Climate change threatens biodiversity by disrupting ecosystems as well as the plants and animals that dwell in them. Changes in weather and seasonality alter food availability and feeding patterns; reproductive cycles and fertility; habitability of location due to temperature, water, and landscape adaptability; and migratory patterns. These migratory patterns result in the introduction of non-native “invasive” species to environments, as rising land and sea temperatures increasingly force species to relocate to cooler climates. In and of itself, this migration can exacerbate climate change.
Other Threats to Biodiversity
As harmful as climate change is to biodiversity, there would be a crisis of species loss even without greenhouse gas emissions and global warming due to resource depletion of wetlands and forests, exploitation of fish and endangered animals for food, and the introduction of invasive species into non-native environments through human movement, such as by boats and ships, and even automobiles.
The causes of biodiversity loss can be summarized into five primary driving factors, easily remembered by the acronym HIPPO (a species currently vulnerable to extinction): habitat loss, invasive species, pollution, human population, and overharvesting.2 Due to the cumulative impact of these factors, approximately 25 percent of all species (estimated to be between 8 and 10 million) are currently endangered, and 1 million creatures are at risk of extinction within this decade.
A multitude of remedies that are beneficial in addressing both the biodiversity loss and climate change crises do exist, including nature-based solutions, such as regenerative agriculture or natural infrastructure; emission-capture technologies that reduce the need for disruptive ground extraction; and circular economy strategies that recycle and avoid the need to source new raw materials. Through these solutions and others, farmers can maximize crop yields, communities can protect against natural disasters, upstream energy producers may receive favorable tax breaks, and manufacturers are able to eliminate or reduce the cost of buying new raw materials. These solution sets not only mitigate the biodiversity loss and climate change, but also, offer financial opportunities for cost savings and liability prevention.
Karner Blue Capital Proprietary Research Methodology
Karner Blue Capital (KBC) biodiversity research analysts benchmark companies operating in specific industries considered to have material dependencies and/or impacts on biodiversity and climate change using KBC’s proprietary industry-specific frameworks. Only companies that have met an overall ESG threshold are eligible for consideration. The KBC frameworks, or models are comprised of key performance indicators that represent significant environmental, social and governmental risks specific to each industry. These risks are wide ranging and those attributed to “E” include climate change, resource dependency, pollution and invasive species mitigation. Risks specific to “S” include threats to human health, including pandemics, social license to operate, and changing societal and consumer preferences. Risks specific to “G” include legislative (local and national) regulatory changes and liabilities related to the changes in those rules.
KBC analysts also evaluate industry and company-specific innovations and opportunities, focusing on those that develop technologies to mitigate their impacts, invent alternative products and services that disrupt traditional status quo operating protocols, and seek solutions to the complex problems of biodiversity loss and climate change. Only those companies leading their industry in biodiversity performance are further evaluated for financial opportunity by our investment team. We apply Quality at a Reasonable Price fundamental financial analysis to assess companies in the investable universe on growth, profitability, valuation, and balance sheet metrics to create a portfolio of public equities characterized by both robust sustainability practices and financial prospects. This is the work of Karner Blue Capital. We invite you to learn more here.
Article by Vicki Benjamin, CEO of Karner Blue Capital. Vicki is a co-founder of the Adviser and has been its Chief Executive Officer since it commenced operations as an investment adviser in 2018. Vicki maintains a 57% ownership stake in KBC. Ms. Benjamin was a partner at KPMG from September 2005 until February 2015, when she joined Calvert Investments, Inc. as its Chief Financial Officer. She served as the President of Calvert Investments, Inc. from January 2017 through June 2020. She received a B.A. from the University of New Hampshire and an M.B.A. from Bentley University McCallum Graduate School of Business.
The road less traveled has always been the path I’ve found myself on in life, whether intentionally or not. As a young girl, I did not grow up believing that I would have a career in finance. I was beguiled by misconceptions that the field was too difficult and the bar for entry too insurmountably high. Even more daunting was the lack of representation of women within the financial sector.
Prior to the onset of my professional career, I chose to attend the University of St. Andrews, a Scottish university located in a small town nestled on the North Sea. I found myself in a new culture, surrounded by people from different backgrounds with fresh points of view. While the rigorous academics and people I met at St. Andrews greatly shaped both my personal and professional trajectory, I did not pursue a ‘classically finance-oriented’ degree, majoring instead in International Relations. Through this area of study, I followed my interests in political theories, governing bodies, and matters of foreign policy. In my senior dissertation, I dug deeper into the structural inequities that result from these systems and the implications for marginalized populations in Latin America. From this vantage point, I began my career in finance. Somewhat accidently, I stumbled into the realm of impact investing, but was ultimately compelled by the principles of this investment thesis.
I was fortunate enough to find my way to Domini Impact Investments, an SEC-registered investment advisor with an exclusive focus on impact investing. Domini is a women-led and founded firm, often seen as a rarity in the mutual fund world. In fact, as of the close of 2020, the firm was made up of over 60 percent women. This representation includes four of the top six executives, with our CEO and Chair also listed as the named co-portfolio managers on a number of our products. While a women-led environment has shaped my personal experience in the sector, it’s far from the norm.
In a 2020 article, Morningstar reported that the representation of women among fund managers globally has stayed largely stagnant over the course of the last twenty years, stating:
“At the end of 2000, 14 percent of fund managers were women. At the end of 2019, 14 percent of fund managers were women”.
Statistics such as Morningstar’s serve as cogent reminder that financial firms like Domini remain rare enclaves of change within an industry with much progress still to make. With that said, there are signals of coming growth and evolution. With investors calling for greater diversity and inclusion, I believe that we will soon see a systemic shift of women in leadership positions at financial institutions. As a young woman in finance, I am energized to be a part of a financial firm that positions women within roles of executive leadership.
In my capacity leading the firm’s Institutional Client Relationships team, I’ve had the opportunity to serve and interact across our institutional client and intermediary channels. In working closely with such financial professionals and sharing the advantages that impact investing can have on our portfolios, planet and society, I find great purpose in my role and hope my efforts contribute to pushing the field forward. The entities we work with range across a wide spectrum – many at the initial precipice of their search, just beginning to integrate ESG & impact strategies into their client offerings. Others have dedicated long-term efforts to building renowned in-house impact institutions. But across this spectrum of impact integration is the resounding client encouragement to align their portfolios with their own personal values and contemporary issues of interest.
With the allocation of capital increasingly deployed into the purview of millennials, this sentiment will continue to expand. Morgan Stanley’s Institute for Sustainable Investing reported in 2019 that of the millennials polled, 95 percent were interested in sustainable investing.1 Millennial investors are clearly interested in the impact of their investments, both positive and negative. This may be due to a myriad of contributing factors, but I would be remiss not to broach the current state of our world.
As a millennial myself, I find my generation faced with the challenge of tackling humankind’s greatest existential crisis: climate change. Growing up under the specter of a rapidly warming planet, our generation has decided that the cost of chasing unlimited profit may not be worth the payoff and the corresponding destructive social or environmental consequences. But this does not need to be a zero-sum game, and the lens of investing has broadened so that positive social and environmental outcomes can be coupled with lucrative returns. 2020 has resolutely cracked any assumptions that our hyper globalized, interdependent world was too big or too complex to break. As a generation that came of age during the 2008 financial crisis, millennial adults learned young the lesson that unfettered markets and limitless growth are not poised for lasting success. We as investors in an interconnected global society need to consider the long-term ramifications of our investment decisions, not just the short-term payoff.
In asking for greater disclosure, reporting and transparency from their investments, millennials are congruently considering these same metrics and integration from their investment managers to ensure more intentional impact. With rising interest in diversity and inclusion both concerning their investments and the individuals managing their portfolios, younger generations will have the ability to shape the faces of the financial sector. With this generational shift well on its way, maybe one day young women aspiring to be fund managers will not be viewed as taking the road less traveled.
Article by Elizabeth di Bonaventura, Senior Institutional Relationship Associate, Domini Impact Investments. She leads the firm’s institutional client relationships team and serves as its primary point of contact for all financial professionals. In 2019, Elizabeth was named to the inaugural SRI Conference “30 Under 30” list. She holds a Scottish Master of Arts (Honours) in International Relations from The University of St. Andrews.
 2019. Morgan Stanley, Institute for Sustainable Investing. “Sustainable Signals: Individual Investor Interest Driven by Impact, Conviction and Choice”.
What a time to be a millennial investor. A chaotic 2020 offered both investment pitfalls and rich opportunities. 2021 should trend toward a more “normal” environment, but disruptive companies, elevated volatility and information everywhere will continue to define the investment landscape. These three themes have millennials positioned to thrive.
I define disruption as technology-enabled change with profound effects on legacy business models. 2020 brought us disruptive upstarts like Zoom Video and Peloton. Both burst onto the investment scene and became household names. Combined, these two stocks added $120 billion of value through the year. Stalwarts like Amazon.com, Netflix and PayPal grew by leaps and bounds as consumers spent more time online. All three are big and getting bigger. Speaking of big, Tesla claimed the undisputed throne of a white-hot electric vehicle industry.
Why should disrupters continue to win?
Consider the global advertising industry twenty years ago. The highest impact event was the Super Bowl. It brought a little more than 100 million viewers. Today, an advertiser can reach 2.5 billion global users across Facebook’s platform of apps (which includes Instagram).
Oh, and Facebook can offer this reach every single day, not just one Sunday in early February. Oh, and Facebook is just one of a host of digital advertising behemoths that includes Google, YouTube, Amazon, Snapchat, Pinterest and TikTok. Oh, and these digital advertisers seem to know us better than we know ourselves. Oh, and… you get the point. These companies are profoundly changing the advertising industry. This change is enabled by disruptive technologies like the internet, smartphones and super-fast connectivity.
The pay-TV industry is another example. Comcast, AT&T and Charter are the largest pay-TV providers in the US with a collective 55 million video subscribers. These companies spent billions on cable and fiber infrastructure to “own” the video feed into the home, building successful monopolies.
Then Netflix came along, enabled by the internet, smartphones and widespread connectivity. Netflix will end 2020 with 200 million global subscribers. Amazon Prime Video and Disney Plus will together exceed 200 million subscribers. More than 400 million subscribers will pay for the top three streaming services! 55 million pales by comparison. Meanwhile, the streaming services grow double digits as they add content and expand internationally.
Millennials are a tech savvy generation. We are often the prime customers of these disruptive companies. We “get” them. This lends an almost instinctual understanding of their strengths and weaknesses. Familiarity is an underrated first step toward making good investment decisions.
Millennials are an open-minded bunch tolerant of change and well-equipped to handle volatility. We grew up with MTV and The Matrix, embraced Call of Duty and iPhones, and graduated to Amazon Prime and Instagram. In 2020, flexible investors did exceptionally well as stock prices fluctuated wildly. This will be a persistent theme of the next several years. Disruption creates winners and losers. The sociopolitical environment is strained. Monetary and fiscal policy sails uncharted waters. Successful investors will balance high conviction with a willingness to admit mistakes and move on.
I see signs of millennials’ adaptability as investors. Bitcoin’s popularity as a digital store of value is one example. Why buy gold when bitcoin is available with the swipe of a fingertip, 24 hours a day, with easy storage (it’s just bits), transferability and security? Why invest in an index fund when thematic ETFs and active ESG strategies are available? If we can customize our investments to our areas of interest, personal preferences and values, why wouldn’t we?
While index funds are the right choice for many people – including some millennials – they are aircraft carriers with limited ability to quickly change course. Passive investing is the rage today, but I expect that to change as millennials embrace the rich opportunity set of the current market.
Millennials naturally assume that most questions will have readily available answers (the “Google effect”). This information democratization extends to the investment industry. Companies aren’t just the sum of their financial statements. They are people, products, culture, strategies and execution, shaped and informed by leadership, industry trends, oversight and historical arcs. As investors, we can know more about products, services, companies and CEOs than ever before – more than earnings reports, SEC filings and third-party research have historically offered.
At Dana Investment Advisors, we spend considerable time examining new information sources. Social media is a powerful information tool. Curated Twitter feeds access the daily thoughts of industry experts. In January, J.P. Morgan hosts the industry’s premier healthcare conference with hundreds of companies. Clinical trial data comes fast and furious for a variety of highly specialized therapies. I follow a list of biopharma experts on Twitter for their unique insights. CEOs increasingly utilize Twitter and other forms of social media (Elon Musk is famous in this regard), providing a window into their character, competence and credibility. Podcasts with industry executives are more popular than ever.
For company culture, glassdoor.com is a great tool. Studies have shown that the highest rated companies on glassdoor.com outperform the lowest rated companies. While my experience is anecdotal, I have found that it especially pays to avoid companies with a particularly negative string of recent reviews. Similarly, LinkedIn offers employee turnover data and job posting trends.
The proliferation of product and service reviews and tutorials is also helpful. Understanding the what, how, and why of a software application, for example, has become much more accessible over the last decade. Expert blogs, online forums like reddit.com and YouTube can be valuable sources of information. Curious about Datadog and the fast growing “observability and monitoring” space? Fire up a few YouTube videos and you’re quick to grasp a conceptual framework.
Millennials are more comfortable than older generations engaging with these formats. This can provide an investment edge.
The “Roaring 2020s”
Moving into the “roaring 2020s,” millennials are well positioned to succeed. They are tech savvy, open-minded and naturally curious. It will be important that they develop a sense of comfort and trust with whatever investment strategy they pursue. They should seek out transparency, credibility and a personal connection. This applies whether they decide to invest in individual companies or use a money manager, and it is especially important as investment choices proliferate.
My best advice? Trust your gut, stay flexible and maintain a sense of optimism about the future. These are exciting times full of opportunity.
Article by David Weinstein, JD, Senior Vice President, and Portfolio Manager. David joined Dana Investment Advisors in May 2013. He is the Lead Portfolio Manager for Dana’s Unconstrained Strategy and co-Portfolio Manager of Dana’s Social ESG, Catholic ESG and Large Cap Equity Strategies.
He graduated from the University of Notre Dame with an Honors Program degree in Political Science in 2005. David graduated cum laude from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law in 2008 and served as Managing Editor of the Law Review. He returned to Notre Dame and received his MBA in Investments in 2012, graduating magna cum laude.
(above) Tami speaking at the UN Capital Markets Leadership Roundtable 2019
Many families face an ongoing tension between the decision-maker “Patriarch” perspective and the younger “NextGen” perspective on how to approach investing and whether alpha should have primacy in investment decisions — with social, educational, justice, environmental, and other impact goals being served predominantly philanthropically — or if the two should always be approached as an integrated whole, regardless of asset class.
Whether you are a family member in endless contentious investment committee meetings or a wealth manager attempting to align disparate client priorities, differing intergenerational perspectives frequently create challenges. Oftentimes the gap between prioritizing achieving better financial returns versus prioritizing greater social or environmental impact seems insurmountable. I’m here to tell you: integrating the two perspectives is easier than you realized and probably a better strategy for both alpha and impact than either generation is creating with their tunnel-vision approach.
Though the success model of previous generations reflected a clear separation between generating financial profit and supporting philanthropic endeavors, (an approach that one of my favorite people in the impact space, Ross Baird, describes as “two-pocket” thinking is his book The Innovation Blind Spot), that strategy doesn’t work in this decade. When allocators begin moving money en masse away from oil and gas companies that don’t have a plan to migrate toward renewables over the next decade, as has already begun to happen, investors who are backwards-thinking in their approach to “what has always worked” are likely to get caught flat-footed with stranded assets on their balance sheets. And those who don’t pay attention to lack of diversity in the leadership or boards of the companies they invest in are also going to be penalized as more forward-thinking capital continues to accelerate its exodus post-George Floyd.
On the other hand, the next generation saw An Inconvenient Truth in middle school and climate negotiations on the world stage since high school. They innately recognize the realities of climate change and its threat to survival. They see the wealth disparity that has grown every year of their lifetime and nearby inner cities that never benefitted from ‘trickle down’ economics. They’ve had the internet for their entire adult lives and see constant news feeds on human and planet suffering in a way that no prior generation has. Investing in fossil fuels while also investing in solar energy just does not make sense to this generation because the harm of one would cancel out the benefit of the other. Instead, they lead fossil fuel divestment campaigns and champion progressive agendas, with impact often having urgency and primacy.
But each perspective is shortsighted. On the one hand, the actions of BlackRock’s Larry Fink — and other money managers — highlighting the importance of climate change on company performance are going to lead to further repricing of assets with large carbon footprints, regardless of whether family patriarchs support (or even believe in) the underlying causes or not. On the other hand, if everyone were to jump on the divestment bandwagon tomorrow, all planes would be grounded immediately, most houses wouldn’t have access to electricity, and the world would essentially stop. That is clearly not a sustainable plan.
But when you marry the two, something magical happens. Paying attention to both profit and purpose — as data for ESG & sustainability indices have each proven out — leads to results that actually slightly outperform the market.
This trend of greater returns for socially responsible investments has only accelerated during the COVID pandemic.
Notably, the financial performance of impact investments has been even more pronounced in the private markets where real impact (and often more attractive returns) is delivered through private sector investments (in companies, funds, and projects).
The good news is that attractive social enterprise investment opportunities are abundant across health-tech, education, fin-tech and renewables, delivering market-rate or better returns while concurrently generating substantial social or environmental benefits.
More in line with the demands of the next generation, racial equity considerations — of the production and use of the product/service as well as hiring and compensation within the company staff and leadership team — have also become important considerations for investment evaluations. And, on the direct side, much like I wrote about last year, in GreenMoney, regarding untapped investment opportunities for women-founded or led companies and funds, investing in minority-led enterprises is also proving to offer above-market-rate returns as evidenced by the tremendous work of groups like FVLCRUM Funds, which is creating generational wealth in minority communities while creating substantial value for investors.
I can’t end this article without sharing three of the most innovative trends we are seeing at LOHAS Advisors for 2021 for forward-thinking investment committees and investment advisors focused on engaging parties across generations with new approaches to integrate alpha and impact. The first trend that’s begun to generate significant interest is Social Impact Entertainment. As a means to build bridges, families (often through their family foundations) have coalesced around a specific cause (e.g., animal welfare, human trafficking, environmental conservation, etc.) but in the past have disagreed on how to address it (i.e., investment versus philanthropy). Innovatively, more and more often families are recognizing the power of film and television to generate greater awareness (and resulting action) for their causes while also capturing attractive financial returns.
The second trend we see continuing to grow in 2021 is on the philanthropic side, where many traditional nonprofits come back to donors year after year with the same size (or larger!) grant request without permanently fixing anything. The alpha on that investment is 100 percent loss of capital annually, and the impact may be less than optimal as well, often focusing solely on patches for symptoms while neglecting underlying issues. In 2021, one of the hottest innovative intergenerational trends that’s continuing to grow is investing in for-profit social enterprises via donor-advised funds (“DAF”) as part of the family’s philanthropic strategy – funding solutions for causes the family cares about while believing that revenue-returning ventures are better positioned to tackle some of society’s most endemic problems. As a bonus, when those social enterprises do return a profit, that just keeps growing the investment capital in the DAF that continue in a virtuous cycle to be reinvested. At LOHAS, we are helping parties use their donor-advised funds to invest in for-profit social and environmental impact companies, funds, projects, and productions more than we ever have in the past.
Lastly, even beyond DAFs, we are seeing a variety of up-and-coming nonprofit leaders recognizing that they need sustainable business models and must stop relying on donation-dependent models that put undue stress on organization management annually. We have crafted new approaches to help grow nonprofit revenue through the strategic structuring of hybrid, customized “partner” for-profit ventures which directly support the nonprofit’s mission and funding needs while also engaging in related profitable endeavors.
After the chaos and divisions of 2020, I look forward to celebrating your successes as you seek out and find common ground across generations and hope that you, like us, maintain a continued commitment to innovation that bridges the divides and builds a better future through investment strategies that support the family’s and individual members’ values while equally generating attractive financial returns and prosperity for all.
Tami Kesselman is a creative and analytical family office strategy advisor, global expansion expert, and leader at expanding financial and impact success within complex systems. A Harvard-educated strategist and former Bain consultant, she is a pioneer and thought leader in impact investing who has spent the past two decades working at the intersection of the highest levels of corporate, intergovernmental, entrepreneurial, and investor communities globally.
As a Partner at LOHAS Advisors, along with helping drive the firm-wide growth strategy, Tami also works directly with ultra-high net worth clients seeking to migrate portfolios to impact alignment without sacrificing financial returns. With an innate ability to help clients shape portfolios in ways that resonate across generations, she has become highly sought after as increasingly more wealth is transitioning.
Tami annually lectures at Harvard Business School on the complex intersection of capitalism, sustainability, public policy, business management, and geopolitics, and keynotes at investor conferences globally on the shifting fiduciary demands as global standards evolve. She has facilitated board-level strategy sessions for clients on six continents, annually chairs Opal’s Private Wealth Impact Investing Forum, and serves on the Steering Committee for the NEXUS Impact Investing Working Group and the UN-NEXUS Small Island Resiliency Braintrust. In 2019, Tami also became the worldwide president of Harvard Alumni in IMPACT (Investment – Measurement – Policy – Advocacy – Climate action – Tech4good), a global alumni organization with nearly 1,000 members from 60+ countries, coming from Harvard College and every Harvard graduate school.
Tami’s passion is working 1:1 with individual investors and single-family offices, helping them identify and accelerate the positive ripple effects of allocating capital more effectively to improve the world while protecting their portfolio returns over the next decade and beyond.
Welcome to the latest “GreenMoney Interviews.” For this issue I spoke with Liesel Pritzker Simmons of Blue Haven Initiative, where she oversees an impact investing portfolio structured to generate financial returns and address social and environmental challenges.
The portfolio spans asset classes, from traditional equities and private equity to philanthropic programs. A longtime advocate for informed, conscientious investing, Liesel co-founded Blue Haven, a single-family office, with her husband, Ian Simmons. Their family office is considered to be one of the first to have been created with impact investing as its mission. She works closely with numerous organizations that support and advance the field of impact investing.
CLIFF: In your July 2014 article for GreenMoney you talked about your experiences as a millennial investor and called on the financial services industry to stop talking about trade-offs, broaden their definition of risk, and understand that young people want to create real value. How have you seen progress on these fronts in the past six and a half years?
LIESEL: I think there has been a big shift, at least in the rhetoric. There is no doubt that impact investing is here to stay. Financial performance of ESG has been pretty solid, both in market corrections and bull runs, so the knee-jerk “BUT THERE ARE TRADE-OFFS!” position becomes more and more hollow. In terms of risk, every major financial institution has at least published a white paper on climate risk, which is quite something. And the #MeToo movement and Racial Justice conversations have mobilized employees and customers of major companies to clamp down on toxic and discriminatory cultures. These are all positive developments, I think. Are things happening fast enough? Of course not.
I think my hottest take in my 2014 piece was that this generation of investors is not convinced by Milton Friedman’s shareholder primacy doctrine. And I’m even more sure of that now. Trickle-down economics is not working. Time for something new: more accountability.
CLIFF: You and your husband, Ian Simmons, are co-founders and principals of Blue Haven Initiative. You’re aligned in many ways, but how have you structured your family office and portfolio to reflect your individual interests?
LIESEL: Ian and I were both interested in impact investing and aligned when it came to structuring a portfolio that was dedicated to it. But when forming our family office, we wanted to make sure to reflect our individual interests and impact-focused activities beyond investing. For example, I’m extremely interested in supporting startups in sub-Saharan Africa. Our direct investment portfolio focuses on early-stage energy, fintech, logistics and human capital ventures there. We’re really excited to help build the talent pipeline in Kenya and East Africa. In early-stage companies we saw how recruiting and empowering talent is one of the most import things to build to scale – and really see it as one of the biggest opportunities to accelerate impact.
In addition to impact investing, Ian has also focused on civics, especially policy and accelerating civic engagement policy solutions. I think there’s an argument to be made that our most important work on climate has been in engaging more Millennial and Gen Z voters to show up and vote for a clean energy future these last two elections. That kind of structural change, along with good policy and a healthy democracy—something that we’ve seen we can’t take for granted—are essential for markets over the long-term. And the way we’ve structured our family office incorporates all of that.
CLIFF: How has your approach to impact investing evolved, as the industry has evolved? How have your expectations and even definition of ‘impact’ evolved?
LIESEL: Early on we really focused on “knowing what we own” and making sure our investments were aligned with our values. But increasingly we’ve focused on how policy, philanthropy and investing are interconnected.
2020 helped show how much we take for granted in terms of how important norms and democratic foundations are to our society. I think more and more people are coming around to the idea that long-term investing isn’t just about investing in assets that have a long duration or long-view manager, but also doing things that are healthy for investors over the long term and for future generations.
That encourages us to keep pushing things. Whether it’s practices within Blue Haven or evaluating who is managing our money, we’ve been focused on upgrading our practices, insisting on higher standards for managers and evaluating hiring policies, particularly around issues of racial and gender equity. It’s not so much about saying, “Look at us”—we still have a lot to do and learn—but we want to show that it’s possible to adopt higher standards.
CLIFF: Why is it important for business leaders to pay attention to the impact investing movement?
LIESEL: The single biggest reason to pay attention to the ideas around impact investing is that it is absolutely essential for recruiting talent of any caliber to your organization. Kids these days want it all—they want to work for a thoughtful organization that has a purpose and treats stakeholders (including the planet) with respect. And it needs to be authentic. People can see through the pithy platitudes and actually want to see if there’s any follow through.
CLIFF: What advice do you have for other millennials who are just starting their impact investing journey? And do you have any advice to those who want to address climate change and environmental changes on how to take effective action?
LIESEL: Ultimately, the impact investing journey starts with being curious about what’s going on with money around you. In my early investing days I learned that a vehicle manufacturer company I was investing in was supplying the Sudanese government during genocide. I was surprised—and disappointed—but I sold the stock.
No matter how much you have in a bank account, you can learn more about the business practices of what, say, your bank is doing—who they’re lending to and so forth. Check in on what your college endowment is investing in. Wherever you are, you can have an impact, and you can engage others to do the same.
I like to say perfect is the enemy of the good, and that definitely applies here. It’s not about getting things exactly right the first time around. Just get started. And it’s okay to start small!
CLIFF: Coming full circle from 2014: What advice do you have for the financial services industry in 2021 and beyond?
LIESEL: If I were in the leadership of a financial services firms —or any large firm, for that matter, I’d develop a hypocrisy index. How much does my firm say that is in direct opposition to what it does, meaning how it allocates capital? Easy examples are around climate change. Take Larry Fink and BlackRock. On one hand they talk about stakeholder capitalism, but at the same time they still vote at a relatively low percentage on climate resolutions as a stockholder. But things get much more interesting when you look at lobbying efforts and government relations—what’s going on over there? If you’re supporting candidates or initiatives who are instituting policies that are actively undermining your bold statements, you should not get credit for your bold statements.
So, get proactive about issues like climate and racial justice and corruption, and figure out ways to integrate them into your brand and business model. If you do it quickly enough, there’s a competitive advantage. It’s never too early to show leadership.
Biography: Liesel Pritzker Simmons is Co-Founder and Principal of Blue Haven Initiative, where she oversees an impact investing portfolio structured to generate financial returns and address social and environmental challenges. The portfolio spans asset classes, from traditional equities and private equity to philanthropic programs.
A longtime advocate for informed, conscientious investing, Liesel co-founded Blue Haven, a single-family office, with her husband, Ian Simmons. Their family office is considered to be one of the first to have been created with impact investing as its mission.
Liesel works closely with organizations that support and advance the field of impact investing. She was a co-founder of The ImPact, a network of families committed to the conscientious stewardship of wealth. She also serves on the board of Toniic, which provides tools for investors to evaluate impact investments, and on the board and the investment committee of ImpactAssets.
The GreenMoney Journal team is excited to announce our updated Editorial Calendar for 2021. Truthfully, we spend months deciding on these themes and you’ll notice we have added a couple of new ones for 2021 including ‘Green Impact Bonds’ and ‘Oceans and Climate’.
Each issue explores different aspects of the topic throughout the month online and in our biweekly eJournals. Overall, GreenMoneyreports on the growing impact of sustainable investing and business on sectors including Organic Agriculture, Climate Change, Renewable Energy, Women’s Leadership, Millennial Activism, Ethical Business, Social Change Philanthropy, Impact Investing, and more.
And believe it or not, next year 2022 is our 30th Anniversary year!
2021 Editorial Calendar Themes
Our Money Stories: Truth Be Told
Women and Investing: Changing the World
Annual All-Videos Issue: SRI, ESG and CSR
Investing in Sustainable Agriculture
The World of Green Building and Energy
Circular Economy and Sustainable Business
Oceans and Climate(new theme)
Community Impact Investing
Green Impact Bonds(new theme)
Women and Investing: Outlook on 2022
Our Special 200th Issue: Readers Favorites
Millennials and Money: Next Gen of Impact
If you are interested in working with us, you can find more information here: Advertising and Sponsorships here on greenmoney.com and in our biweekly eJournals.
Currently serving as vice chair of the Starbucks board of directors, Hobson will succeed current chair, Myron E. Ullman, III upon his retirement in March 2021
Starbucks Corporation recently announced that Mellody Hobson will serve as the company’s next non-executive chair of its board of directors starting in March 2021. Hobson, who first joined the board as an independent director in 2005 and was appointed as the board’s independent vice chair in 2018, will succeed Myron (Mike) E. Ullman, III. Ullman, who has served on the board since 2003 and has served as its chair since 2018, will retire from the board in March 2021, and Hobson will assume the role of chair in connection with the Starbucks Annual Meeting of Shareholders in March 2021.
“It has been remarkable to be a part of the Starbucks board for nearly 18 years as this enduring company has grown with a mindset of prioritizing its people and its customers,” said Ullman. “It also has been an honor to serve as the chair of the Starbucks board, and to support and oversee the relationships of trust built with our stakeholders. With its Mission and Values as its guide, I am confident in the future of the company.”
“From the very beginning, I set out to build a different kind of company – one in which all decisions were to be made through the lens of humanity,” said Howard Schultz, Starbucks modern day founder and chairman emeritus. “As a member of the board for the last 18 years and board chair since my departure, Mike has been instrumental in ensuring Starbucks answers its higher calling to be a different kind of public company. I am grateful to him for all his contributions and his enduring partnership to me and to Starbucks. Mellody has been a trusted advisor to me and the company for more than 20 years. She is a fearless leader defined by her grace and wisdom. She has long embraced the purpose of Starbucks and, along with the leadership team, will continue to reimagine Starbucks future through the foundation of its past. My heart is full and thankful that Starbucks will have Mellody’s leadership as chair.”
In addition to serving over 15 years on the Starbucks board of directors, Hobson is the co-CEO of Ariel Investments, LLC, a global value-based asset management firm. In this role, she is responsible for management, strategic planning and growth for all areas of Ariel Investments outside of research and portfolio management. Additionally, she serves as Chairman of the Board of the company’s publicly traded mutual funds. Prior to being named Co-CEO, Hobson spent nearly two decades as the firm’s President. Beyond Starbucks, she has brought invaluable experience to boardrooms across the nation. She currently serves as a director of JPMorgan Chase. Hobson is also a past director of Estée Lauder Companies and served as Chairman of the Board of DreamWorks Animation until the company’s sale.
“I am thrilled and honored to take on the role of chair,” said Hobson. “Over nearly two decades, I have seen the company continue to elevate and transform its business – adapting to various market environments and evolving consumer trends. I look forward to working with the board and talented leadership team on accelerating our strategy, supporting our valued partners, and continuing to create significant value for all of our stakeholders.” Hobson continued, “On behalf of the board, I would also like to thank Mike for his strong leadership, and all of his invaluable contributions.”
Hobson also serves as Chairman of After School Matters, a Chicago non-profit that provides area teens with high-quality after school and summer programs. Additionally, she is vice chair of World Business Chicago; co-chair of the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art; and a board member of the George Lucas Education Foundation and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). She is a member of The Rockefeller Foundation Board of Trustees and serves on the executive committee of the Investment Company Institute.
Hobson earned her AB from Princeton University’s School of Public and International Affairs. In 2019, she was awarded the University’s highest honor, the Woodrow Wilson Award, presented annually to a Princeton graduate whose career embodies a commitment to national service. She has also received honorary doctorate degrees from Howard University, Johns Hopkins University, St. Mary’s College, and the University of Southern California. In 2015, Time Magazine named her one of the “100 Most Influential People” in the world.
Other members of the Starbucks Board of Directors include: Richard Allison, Roz Brewer, Andy Campion, Mary Dillon, Isabel Ge Mahe, Kevin Johnson, Jørgen Vig Knudstorp, Satya Nadella, Joshua Cooper Ramo, Clara Shih and Javier Teruel.
Since 1971, Starbucks Coffee Company has been committed to ethically sourcing and roasting high-quality arabica coffee. Today, with more than 32,000 stores around the globe, the company is the premier roaster and retailer of specialty coffee in the world. Through our unwavering commitment to excellence and our guiding principles, we bring the unique Starbucks Experience to life for every customer through every cup. To share in the experience, please visit us in our stores or online at https://stories.starbucks.com or www.starbucks.com .
Pavillon Gabriel, Paris, France
The Positive Investors Forum is a unique gathering of asset owners, investment experts, corporate executives, entrepreneurs and thought leaders, keen to put sustainability at the heart of
Pavillon Gabriel, Paris, France
The Positive Investors Forum is a unique gathering of asset owners, investment experts, corporate executives, entrepreneurs and thought leaders, keen to put sustainability at the heart of business transformation. It creates a unique eco-system giving impulse to tangible actions and innovations. Attendees will benefit from valuable insights from leaders involved in sustainable transformation, cutting-edge research, and privileged networking opportunities with over 400 professionals.
The sustainability profession is evolving, with new concerns and concepts emerging faster than ever. To keep up, you need to know the latest trends, tools and insights shaping your job
The sustainability profession is evolving, with new concerns and concepts emerging faster than ever. To keep up, you need to know the latest trends, tools and insights shaping your job and company today — and tomorrow. GreenBiz 21, the premier annual event for sustainable business leaders, will convene more than 1,200 professionals online. By joining this invitation-only event, you’ll form valuable connections with the GreenBiz community and gain access to more than 80 sessions — leaving you feeling inspired and prepared for a successful year ahead.
This is the 17th national/international conference for SUSTAINATOPIA. Founded in 2009, SUSTAINATOPIA remains one of the leading events in the world for social, financial and environmental sustainability & impact. Attendees
This is the 17th national/international conference for SUSTAINATOPIA. Founded in 2009, SUSTAINATOPIA remains one of the leading events in the world for social, financial and environmental sustainability & impact. Attendees have participated from more than 60 countries. Consisting of both a mega-conference and a broad-ranging Festival, SUSTAINATOPIA brings together the global ecosystem of social, financial and environmental sustainability & impact like no other singular event.