Finance, futures and co-operation were very much the flavour of the day at the 4th annual Social Stock Exchange annual conference in the heart of the City of London this morning. A host of experts from corporate finance including UBS, JP Morgan Private Bank, Barclays, BlackRock allied with renewable brands like Good Energy Group and Thrive Renewables and a mix of private investors and advisers for a fascinating insight into the mind of the conscientious investor. In a series of pleasingly open and frank discussions, there was an acknowledgement of an appetite for greater investment in ethical/sustainable/green areas, but challenges in finding targets, and then the speed of return on the investment. Green investment doesn’t typically give fast returns, and Daniel Godfrey Co-Founder of The People’s Trust urged investors to “reach for your seatbelt and not your parachute.”
From a bio-based perspective, the conference gave a positive outcome – there are major funds and banks looking to invest, it's not all about fuels or energy. It’s just a matter of connecting, and then proving the model. Not easy. But certainly achievable.
2016 saw a string of major financial institutions joining the marketplace in a significant way, with this driven by client demand. This was matched by the creation of a wide array of impact investing products and funds managed by the institutions mainstream division, something that the organizer of the event Social Stock Exchange – society’s public market for impact investing – see as a definite turning point in the development of the impact investing market.
Nigel Wilson, CEO of Legal and General gave a punchy keynote, balancing the opportunity that technology and start-ups bring to the UK economy with a critique of the lack of investment in education and infrastructure both physical and digital since the 1970s. He urged the investors in the room to do more, and with £1.3 trillion sitting in UK pension pots reminded the room that “you don’t have to ask the government to get things done.” He pointed at a host of Legal & General investments outside London and the south-east to illustrate his point.
Social impact investing, where asset managers and private investors alike build portfolios delivering social returns alongside financial returns, continues to grow in popularity. Though finding suitable investments can be a challenge. As Alice Brader, Vice President of JP Morgan Private Bank told the attendees - “they don’t just pop up in Morningstar.”
In 2016 the Social Stock Exchange ( @SocialStockExch) grew by 50% and collectively their members are delivering against all 17 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. In addition to putting on an excellent event, the Social Stock Exchange also used the gathering to launch its fourth annual research book. For the second year running, the book has been produced by specialist investment research firm All Street, delivering both an independent take on Social Stock Exchange member firms as well as an overview of developments in the impact investing market as a whole.
Tomás Carruthers ( @tomcarruthers ) Chief Executive of the Social Stock Exchange, commented: “Our annual conference continues to grow in popularity and this year we are attracting more senior staff from many of the life offices, pension funds and asset managers in the City than ever before. We are releasing our 2017 Research Book at this event and I am delighted that it is becoming the reference for investing in impact. 2017 will mark another year of significant growth for social entrepreneurship and investor engagement.
The research book can be downloaded here and is well worth a read. Bio-Based World News will be carrying out a Headline Interview with Tomás Carruthers in the coming months, and he will also be serving as an investment expert at Bio-Based Live in Amsterdam in the Spring.
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