Who dominates the impact investing space?

No one! Why?

That is a fact, although in a time of fake facts it doesn’t matter.

Why is there not a single bank, wealth manager, or major financial institution the leader in the “race for values investors”. We keep hearing how ESG and Impact is booming and trillions are pouring into the space. If that was true, then why is it that not a single bank is perceived as the leader, the champion, THE IMPACT BANK for UHNW(Ultra High Net Worth) or HNW (High Net Worth) Investors.

One only needs to engage with the Private Banks, Wealth Managers, or Mega Banks to understand the issue here. These institutions are spending nothing on ESG and Impact Investing capacity building. Spending is going to the following:

  • ICT
  • Cybersecurity
  • Compliance
  • Capital Buffers
  • Traditional marketing
  • Bonuses

With this lack of commitment financially, psychologically and emotionally, ESG and Impact are just new products to add to the list of offerings to clients. It is not an important strategy!

It seems that the financial institutions are schizophrenic. All of them don’t want to be seen as a Sustainable, Impact or Values Bank, because they are afraid that clients or staff might leave . However, they also don’t want to be seen as a Bank not embracing ESG, Impact and Values Investing. Make up your mind. You can’t be partially pregnant. To paraphrase Danny Ocean asking Linus Caldwell in Ocean’s 11. “Your either in our out.”

I have met with many Private Banks and Wealth Managers. Nearly all seem to be really out of touch with clients wishes, particularly nextgen clients. The lack of commitment to see the opportunity for clients and the bank is beyond belief. Most of the time it is lip service and most of the time the banks just want to learn some tricks to convince their clients that they understand enough. However, when we (TBLI Group) speak to clients, they are keen, looking and open to a Values Investing strategy. When we ask “do you want a financial return with a social and environmental added values”, they all say, “absolutely. Can you do that?” If you want to you can. No one ever said to me “No I want all my money to make life miserable for everyone and I am working at that 24 hours a day.”

I have heard for years that the problem is the client. They are not interested. I don’t believe that anymore. Sure there are some clients that don’t believe or are not convinced. That is an educational exercise. Do the work to convince. When TBLI started, nearly 25 years ago, educating asset owners and managers, there was no PRI, CDP, EVPA, AVPN, Eurosif. No infrastructure at all. However, TBLI was still able to make inroads, and help build that infrastructure, because we were committed.

Recently, I was at FT seminar on ESG and Japan. The entire day was taken up with complaints by asset managers complaining that ESG date is not good enough. Over and over and over. They kept repeating “ESG is not Good Enough”. I have heard this for 25 years. The moderator asked are there any questions from the audience. I raised my hand and said that “I have heard for 25 years this complaint that ESG Data is not good enough. Why don’t you ever say that the financial data is not good enough? We have gone through a financial meltdown, Maddoff, Worldcom, Parmelat, Enron, etc. The financial sector has lost trillions of dollars and there has never been a single company that went bankrupt on questionable esg data.” I was told that my comment was not a question and we moved on.

Perhaps no one will take a leadership role to own the Values Investing space. That’s fine, but the market or clients are there. Particularly when we dispel the myth that there are no deals. There is no shortage of deals. There is a lack of infrastructure to find illiquid opportunities, at scale. They exist but they are not to be found in traditional places. Different neighbourhood. Doesn’t mean they don’t exists.

TBLI has spent 25 years educating asset owners and managers about ESG and Impact Investing. Convincing has never been a challenge, particularly when you speak to wealth holders. Banks need to allocate the resources needed to dominate the space and grow the industry. They need to approach this as they would if it was an M&A. Until that time, the only big story will be the press releases coming out about how such and such a bank is committed to Values Investing .

To paraphrase Yoda “Do or do not, there is no try”.

A pig and a chicken were walking down the road. As they passed a church, they notice that a potluck charity breakfast was under way. Caught up in the spirit, the pig suggested to the chicken that they each make a contribution.

“Great Idea!” the chicken cried. “Let’s offer them ham and eggs!”

“Not so fast.” said the pig. “For you, that’s just a contribution, but for me, it’s a total commitment.”

Overnight Success after 25 years!

In March, I did an extensive road show in Asia, visiting Singapore, Hong Kong and Bangkok. It was quite intense. Some days I had nearly 8 meetings, but definitely worth it.

What struck me the most is that Asia has gotten the Values Investing bug, big time. Nearly all the presentations that I gave, and the people I met, and executive briefings I had, were not about why, but all about how. It seems a tipping point had been reached, at least by the people I was meeting. They all were curious as to why there was so much interest and what had happened to spark this interest. What were the drivers?

The presentations I made were about how Values (ESG and Impact) Investing had become mainstream and what has happened in the last 25 years to change the mindset of investors. The list below were very influential , as well as the efforts of many building the ecosystem of ESG and Impact, including TBLi.

25 year Milestones

  • Carbon Tracker
  • Freshfields I & II
  • UNPRI
  • Equator Principles-50m – 10m
  • Carbon Disclosure Project
  • Montreal Pledge

The Asians all felt that the Europeans were way ahead of the curve and very keen on Values Investing, from the beginning. I had to correct that perception. When TBLI started, there was little to no infrastructure to lay the ground work for ESG and Impact. The notion that the entire financial sector jumped up and gave TBLI a big hug, and embraced us, is a myth. It was a long hard slog.

I remember this experience vividly.

When I started (late 1990’s), I was invited to speak to the Dutch Insurance Association about Climate Risk and Sustainability. I started my talk explaining that a country below sea level should start to be concerned about the risks that rising sea levels would cause. The response from the large insurance Companies present was, “It’s not a problem for us if sea level rises, we don’t cover salt water damage.”. One could be come angry at the low level of understanding of that response, or translate in their language. I chose the later, by saying, “That is true, but you sell mortgages, and if 200.000 homes are submerged in water due to seal level rise, which become worthless, you have a big problem.”

Speaking in the language of the person who you are trying to convince has always been key to TBLI’s approach. The moral imperative doesn’t work unless you show the financial risk and opportunity. Don’t shout loudly in German to someone who speaks Chinese.

“Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups.”

George Carlin

We are all an overnight success after 25 years

TBLI CONFERENCES 2019

Meet the thought leaders and Investors in Values Investing. Join us for one of our TBLI Conference. All Asian Events are free for Investment Decision Makers.  

TBLI 20th Anniversary-What Now?

As you can see TBLI made it big on Times Square, thanks to Nasdaq.

Our 20th Anniversary, last week, was a great success. I want to thank all those who attended and supported us. It was a joy engaging with so many thoughtful, passionate, committed, generous, thought leaders. I was particularly touched by this testimonial.

“I admit that slavefreetrade did not attend with high hopes of making impact, as the 1% crowd is very different from the people we usually mingle with. But it was overwhelming to find that our work delivered what seemed to be clear emotional touchpoints for many investors. The ESG investment community is not one we had before the chance to mix with. Being able to bridge social impact work with ESG investing was breathtakingly interesting, refreshing and, frankly, very reassuring about the quality of people in general.”

Brian Iselin-President, slavefreetrade.org

For those that want to get an impression of the event. We have posted photos of the event, and will be updating our website with presentations made, and reports, shortly.

Going forward we have been working on several innovative ideas that will allow us to scale our capacity building work and mobilising more assets towards Value(s) Investing. Stay tuned.

Tribute Robert Rubinstein

During the last TBLI Conference in Stockholm, last week, my wife, Rieki Crins, gave me a beautiful surprise. In secret, which is not easy, she had been colleting testimonials from various friends and thought leaders. I was totally surprised and overwhelmed with such a beautiful gesture. Thank you to all who participated.

For those interested, you can find the book here. We have received several more testimonials since publishing the book, so we will update it.


Robert Rubinstein Speaking at Upcoming events:

ZUG IMPACT SUMMIT INVITATION- FAITH IN FINANCE- 30 & 31 October 2017
 
Prestel & Partner- Family Office Forum Zurich, 14 – 15 November
Program

Principals or Family Offices have free admission whilst solution providers must reserve a limited pass
Contact: office@prestelandpartner.com

I would like to be speaker/and or sponsor

 TBLI Impact Dinners

TBLI Foundation is organising 6 Value(s) Investing private dinners as fund raisers for its work in building a global community of Values Investors. The 6 dinners will be held in various European locations from Oct.-Dec,  for a small group of thought leaders (25 max.). The goal is to support each other in our ambition of scaling up Value(s) Investing.
You will enjoy the food, company and conversation. The location will always be warm, comfortable,refreshing with delicious food and wine.
Come meet your peers, in a trusted environment,  who share a passion of using investment to improve society and the environment, as well as making money.
The costs for attending the dinner are Euros 295,— (equivalent amount in Pounds, CHF, or SEK) Just click on the register button for the event that you would like to attend and fill in registration form.
Locations are:
October 11, Amsterdam-The Dylan Amsterdam
October 30, Zurich Haus zum Rüden
Nov. 9, Geneva Cercle de la Terrasse
Nov. 23, Milan Giacomo Arengario 
Dec. 5, London, House of St. Barnabus
Dec. 13, Paris, Cercle de L’Union Interalliée
If you would like to join us, please send email

 

The birth of a new era

When I started TBLI, 20 years ago, social media did not exist and thought leaders or influencers working to create a values based investing industry,  were few and far between. There was no CDP, no PRI, no Montreal Pledge, no ESG or Impact Investing community (GIIN, AVPN, EVPA, Eurosif, etc.).

The marketing people took over the field thinking that SRI/ESG etc would be a way to get more money to manage. They failed as the placement of SRI funds was not a successful event, initially. What became successful was the realisation that Social, Environmental and Governance factors would be come pervasive and will slowly make their way into the mainstream language. The battle is now for the value of that language: will it weaken in an Orwellian newspeak or will the ideas and the words take over.

I believe that ESG and Impact or what I like to call Value(s) Investing will become all pervasive, and TBLI through all its efforts was instrumental in achieving that. I believe it will provide investors what they all ultimately want; Investments that look at all risk factors, social, environmental, governance and financial, leading to Market Rate Return with a Social and Environmental added value. 

Accelerating Value(s) Investing

TBLI will be celebrating its 20th anniversary, in Stockholm at Nasdaq, Sept. 28-29.  Moving forward, TBLI will be transitioning to TBLI 2.0.- Accelerating ESG and Impact Investing strategies and money flows by asset owners and managers. We have been working on that and have some exciting new initiatives that.

Come join us for the next Chapter.

Batman Returns

To stay focussed on the job at hand, important to laugh, be authentic, and committed. Watching Larry David helps.