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At gatherings in Davos and a series of World Economic Forum reports, Abigail Noble has tried to nudge the world’s largest asset managers toward impact investing.
Done. Or at least in progress. Last year, Blackrock, the largest asset manager, and Bain Capital, announced new impact investing initiatives. Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs and many others have all stood up impact investment offerings as well.
Noble says wealthy and influential stakeholders are key to making the inclusion of social and environmental value the norm, not the exception, in investing and business decision-making. The 200,000 families around the world with more than $30 million in assets hold nearly $30 trillion in assets, roughly double the annual output of the United States.
Indeed, in some wealthy circles, impact investing is beginning to take its place next to philanthropy. The ImPact network of wealthy families is inspired by the Giving Pledge, Bill Gates’ and Warren Buffett's network of billionaires who have pledged to give away the majority of their wealth. The ImPact asks members to “Make The Pact,” and to go beyond philanthropic giving to use the power of their private investments and the broader capital markets to solve global challenges.
The ImPact’s first movers and co-founders are from families such as the Rockefellers (Justin), Pritzkers (Liesel) and Sorensons (Jim), along with Tom Groos, the principal of his own family office, Tyden Ventures, and Tyden's CIO, Josh Cohen. Jean and Steve Case, of AOL fame, and Pam and Pierre Omidyar, who founded eBay, are supporting the ImPact through their respective foundations.
The wealthy already have high confidence in the private sector to solve social and environmental challenges. High on that list of challenges are environmental protection and sustainability. So are healthcare and education access and disease prevention, treatment and cure. Millennials, set to inherit tens of trillions of wealth, are more likely to favor sustainable and impact investing.
They don’t have to wait. Along with their parents and grandparents, families have the assets, the nimble apparatuses and growing inclination to shift billions, and then trillions, to impact, sooner rather than later.