On May 1 and 2, Good Capital Project and ImpactPHL hosted the second annual Total Impact Philadelphia in partnership with the CFA Society Philadelphia, Intentional Endowments Network, Toniic, and Wharton Social Impact Initiative. The 2019 Total Impact Conference kicked off with inspiring remarks from the President of Good Capital Project’s parent company, Kate Bryne from Intentional Media, “The capitalism we believe in is compassionate, inclusive, and a place where all ESG systems thrive for the betterment of all.”
The topic of leveraging impact investing to change society’s greatest inequities was a common theme throughout the first day. Roy Swan, Director of Mission Investment of Ford Foundation, opened the day by discussing how the Ford Foundation is using impact investing to create a more inclusive economy. Roy Swan pointed out that “it’s human nature for like groups to support one another.” However, this mindset becomes a challenge when less than 1% of the $70 trillion in AUM in the United States is managed by women and people of color.
The Ford Foundation is committed to using $1 billion of its endowment assets over the next 10 years to generate strong ESG returns. Specifically, they are supporting greater diversity, equity, and inclusion by interacting with global asset owners to deploy capital in a catalytic way that also generates responsible returns.
Later in the day, Nathalie Molina Niño, CEO of BRAVA Investments, echoed similar statements during the “Overlooked Opportunity” fireside chat. When talking about underrepresented investors opening the doors for underrepresented founders, Nathalie’s perspective was clear, “Our best bet is making sure the people writing the check look like us.”
Another resounding theme of the first day of Total Impact Philadelphia 2019 was the importance of impact integration across asset classes. Major players across the financial sector are turning to impact investing and ESG integration as risk management strategies, long-term alpha generation, or increasing client/stakeholder engagement. Panelists discussing public equities and private credit talked about using ESG data to strengthen investment decisions, as well as to “‘avoid landmines” in investments. Impact investment advisors talked about using impact and ESG strategies as a necessary consideration when managing portfolios in perpetuity.
What we heard
“Investment managers speak of an investment strategy, but they won’t be able to exit their investments fast enough before they lose all value in the face of carbon taxes and other restrictions.” – Jeff Gitterman, Co-founding Partner, Gitterman Wealth Management
“There is a call to action to engage national and community foundations to work with state and local government to have a dialogue in Opportunity Zones’ fund managers to invest in the communities you care about.” – Fran Seegul, Executive Director, US Impact Investing Alliance
“Companies are hearing from mainstream investors that impact and ESG issues are investment issues.” – Peter Reali, Senior Director of Responsible Investing, Nuveen
“If head, heart, and voice are missing from the table, then we’re creating risks we won’t be able to divest from… Equity is a share of the company. It’s time to act like owners” – Geeta Aiyer, President, Boston Common Asset Management