More major mainstream investment managers are flocking to impact investments. Already, funds invested in it are well into the tens of trillions and some foundations are committing to invest their endowments in it.
Perhaps even more telling than these indicators suggesting that impact investing is heading toward the mainstream: More students are enrolled in the impact investing class of Christopher Geczy, an adjunct professor of finance at Wharton, than in his traditional investment management class. “I think we’ve reached a tipping point,” said Geczy during a panel discussion titled “Mainstreaming Impact Investing” at this year’s Social Impact Conference, sponsored by Wharton’s Social Impact Initiative.
Impact investing, the practice of taking environmental, social and governance factors into consideration in making investment decisions, refers to the full range of approaches within the category, including socially responsible investing. The enthusiasm for Geczy’s impact investing class echoes another data point cited by panelists as an indicator of the ascendance of impact investing: According to a recent Bank of America survey, 85% of millennials are interested in, or are actively doing, impact investing.
“Given the trends in wealth transfer, and that 85% of millennials say they want to invest with purpose, an investment manager will be out of the running if they don’t offer [impact investments],” said panelist Surya Kolluri, managing director for policy and market planning at Merrill Lynch, a subsidiary of Bank of America. He also cited statistics showing that women are significantly more inclined to be interested in impact investing – 70% versus 30%, according to BoA data – and that women stand to control the majority of wealth in coming years.