Impact InvestingOct 27 2020

Impact reporting is a challenge

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Impact investing has enjoyed a surge in demand from investors over recent years, particularly from those who are looking for investments which potentially offer long-term returns whilst delivering a positive environmental impact. 

In the years that we have been tracking the impact metrics of our investments, there has been a marked interest from our clients in understanding where their money is going and what the positive effects are of these investments. 

Savvy investors increasingly want to understand the link between the investments in the company stocks that they hold and the environmental outcomes of their business activities. In a nutshell, “Show me the good that my money is creating.”

Investors may have unique requirements in terms of what they expect their investments to deliver

As interest in measuring impact has grown, techniques and methodologies have proliferated. This is exciting, but it has also led to growing confusion and questions on what these numbers really mean.

Investors may have unique requirements in terms of what they expect their investments to deliver. 

For some, investing with their conscience will mean avoiding certain stocks, for example so-called “sin stocks” like tobacco or gambling companies, on moral grounds. 

Others will be seeking the opportunity to invest in environmental solutions such as water treatment sites or plastics recycling. This means the lines have become increasingly blurred when it comes to working out what impact investing is and how we measure it.

This poses a significant challenge for intermediaries who are responsible for managing investment solutions for their clients and are faced with an increasing number of products but with no single industry standard or criteria by which to measure the impact of these products.

It has also led to a rising danger of corporate or investor “greenwashing” or the more recent “rainbow washing”, related reporting around the Sustainable Development Goals.

As a result, delivering meaningful impact reporting is a complex process that requires specialist expertise to collect the data, scrutinise and understand it.  Then, most importantly for intermediaries, present it clearly and simply, linking it back to the investment objectives of the product while aligning with the client’s principles.

The key to reporting impact metrics is to present the data in a way that is meaningful and accessible to investors but, most importantly, directly aligns with their principles.

Impact investors want to make a difference and they will have ideas unique to their own experiences about where their money should go and what they want it to achieve, in terms of real, tangible change.