Book review: Conscious Investing by Christin ter Braak-Forstinger
As impact investing is very close to my heart, it is always a pleasure to read new books on the subject while the back catalogue is still relatively limited. Conscious Investing is a triumphant ode to the joy and rise of impact investing. Fourteen passionate practitioners explain their own journey into making the world a better place, at a time when the current social and environmental challenges are more pronounced than ever.
The book takes a holistic view of their investments, incorporating the negative and positive impacts their actions will have on society and the planet. Once assessed, they will pursue those projects, organisations or companies with the biggest potential impact and often closest to their own values. Throughout the book, the practitioners also emphasise the importance of generating a financial return through their investments to help them achieve their personal goals differentiating it from the concept of philanthropy. The format of the book is essentially 12 individual case studies making it easy to read for people who only have 20 to 30 minutes to dedicate at a time.
While not as inspirational as Muhammad Yunnus’ book for example, (winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006, who pioneered the concept of micro-finance) the book helps readers to understand the extent to which impact investing is now a reality across the globe with a growing number of participants and initiatives. It is also a good reminder of how each one of us can help make a lasting change without being a millionaire.
My only slight criticism would be the lack of focus on impact measurement, which crucially helps conscious investors to regularly assess the net impact their investments are making.
Let me finish with this thought from Dan Millman, author of Way of the Peaceful Warrior: “The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new”.
In this book, conscious investors are encouraged to help redesign the financial system and intentionally support businesses making a meaningful positive impact on society and the environment.
I would add that this is very different from trying to improve business practices at tobacco or armament manufacturing companies, which could also happen to be poor investments.
Published by Harriman House. Damien Lardoux is portfolio manager at EQ Investors