Unless you’re in the world of impact investing, ESG, SDG and SRI are just a bunch of letters tossed together. But the three panelists at the Fall 2018 Finance Forum hosted by the Reiman School of Finance, convinced the audience that—no matter which acronym you use—impact investing is real, it’s growing and it is having an impact.
But just so you know:
- ESG stands for environmental, social and governance investing, a way to measure the impact of an investment.
- SDG refers to sustainable development goals set by the U.N. 15 years ago to reduce extreme poverty, fight inequality, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all.
- SRI is socially responsible investing.
“You better care about this,” said Bruce Hoyt, senior vice president of philanthropic and impact investing at Gary Community Investments. Impact investing may have “started as a movement, but it’s very much headed into mainstream.”
Hoyt indicated that there were $2.9 trillion invested in SRI in 2009 and today it’s more than $8.7 trillion in assets.
Panelist Katherine Pease graduated from Colorado College with a degree in sociology and gender studies. She spent 20 years working in philanthropy, but then asked herself, “how can I help other people spend money to make the world a better place?”
She’s now the head of impact strategy at the Cornerstone Capital Group, where their whole mission is to invest for impact. She explained how they build portfolios for clients so their investments align with their values.
“This is not just the right thing to do; it’s the smart thing to do,” she said. “Reports indicate that companies that rank highly on ESG do better in the long run.”
Pamela Turbeville is grateful to see impact investing grow since she had a hard time raising capital when she launched her company i-calQ. Turbeville (MBA 1983), whose background is in engineering and finance, believed her company could do good and make money by providing affordable medical testing in Third World countries.
The i-calQ CEO and co-founder went to several firms seeking investment, but was turned away. Turbeville and her business partner decided to finance their business idea themselves.
“I absolutely failed retirement,” she said.
Her company, which developed a test for smartphones that is designed to detect congenital hypothyroidism, is now looking for targeted investment. She wants an investor who has an interested in medicine and health, but also cares about saving babies and reducing medical costs.
While the panelists’ backgrounds differ widely, they agree that impact investment is here to stay, and it’s a positive thing for people and the planet.
“When you start measuring things, you start changing things,” Hoyt said.
More than 110 students, alumni, faculty, staff and community members attended the forum Oct. 18 in the Joy Burns Center. The Reiman School of Finance will host another forum in the spring.