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Investing for Impact: Stories from Sustainable Investment Solutions, Washington, D.C.

Written by First Affirmative

First Affirmative News

I was so encouraged when I attended the recent Sustainable Investment Solutions event in Washington DC on June 25 sponsored by a group of premier asset managers. With close to 60% of the room filled with advisors, 30% of whom were attending their first ever impact investing event, there was robust discussion, a lot of great questions and genuine enthusiasm all around.

Lisa Woll, the CEO of US SIF kicked off the day with some highlights from their biennial Trends Report that tracks the growth and use of SRI/ESG investments in the U.S. (which topped $12 trillion in 2018 and is still growing)! She also provided a brief overview of sustainable, responsible, and impact (SRI)/environmental, social, and governance (ESG) investing to level-set with the audience.

The day’s first panel focused on the “mechanics” of integrating these types of investments into their client’s portfolios. Representatives from Appleseed, Calvert Research, Brown Advisory, and Trillium discussed their respective SRI/ESG investment strategies, including the selection of their holdings and portfolio performance.

Later in the day, a standout panel of senior women from the World Bank, Calvert Impact, and Community Capital Management shared inspiring real-life stories of how impact investing in the Washington, D.C. area is driving change, and how they are working to expand impact investing across the U.S.

The closing panel of seasoned SRI financial advisors and asset managers focused on advisor best practices, starting with how to open a meaningful and productive dialogue with clients around investing for impact. One interesting thread was around climate change as an “ice-breaker.” Because climate change is top-of-mind for so many, it tends to come up in a lot of client conversations. That has opened the door for these advisors to probe more – questions like: What have you heard about investing to help mitigate climate change? Or other environmental, social, or economic issues? Would you like to learn more about these types of investments?

The panelists also shared a list of resources for the audience to learn more about investing for impact. These included:

By the end of the day, it was clear the room had become a community. Roles and organizations were clearly less important than the collective desire to drive change – and deepen client relationships through investing for impact.

If you missed this event, check out additional SIS events in Denver on August 6, and in Minneapolis on September 24. I hope to see you there.