T-Rex’s, Lions, and Honey Badgers, OH MY!
As my two year old son and I were enjoying the amazing weekend weather in Michigan, we sat on our deck in the backyard, munching on pretzels and singing a rousing round of Old McDonald Had a Farm. When it would come time to say which animals were on the farm, my son would name all sorts of non traditional and traditional farm animals, T-Rex, Lion, Giraffe, and Bunga (Bunga is a honey badger on the Disney Series, The Lion Guard) just to name a few. Without missing a beat, he would growl, roar, grunt, and make different sounds depicting his ideas of the noises that these animals would make on the farm. Me, as the doting Mom, would join him in singing, praise him for his imagination and his ability to pronounce the dinosaur species, and then think to myself, “never stop imagining and creating, please continue to use your abilities to change and enlighten the world, kid. No matter what the world thinks as traditional, you keep striving for solutions that pave your way.” Because who needs a traditional farm or way of doing something if someone can create a new way doing and seeing things!
Old MacDonald's Farm
Strange as this may sound, as I think about Impact Investing and how far it has come, I can picture my son’s idea of Old MacDonald's farm.
Farms are amazing places that cultivate life and over the last couple of years, we have seen new life being breathed into Impact Investing with a renewed focus on Social Entrepreneurs. As the globe’s goal for this movement to infuse and create capital pools to support these inspiring people, my goal is to enhance this spot light and shift capital and focus to LOCAL social entrepreneurs.
When I think about generating momentum focused on local social entrepreneurs, I immediately think of different aspects of the financial/investment world. I envision my son’s idea of Old McDonald’s farm, traditional and non traditional animals on the farm, all together and trying to make it work. One of the exciting things is, this is happening now, across the country, with financial professionals. I see each financial professional, depending on how they are structured, playing an important role on the Impact Investing farm.
First, large traditional investment firms, I picture them as the T-Rex’s on the farm. Strong, large, steady, ready to lead, and visible. These firms are already embracing Impact Investing. When I speak with their financial advisors I can freely use the terms, ESG (Environment, Social, and Governance) or SRI (Socially Responsible Investing) and I no longer get looked at like I am crazy, YAY! While Impact Investing is still a fairly new conversation for their clients, these firms are leveraging their established strong and steady approach of offering these types of investments to their clients. They utilize funds that must clear through rigorous internal due diligence programs. Then their advisors then have access to these funds.
To this, I say, AWESOME! Creating Capital Pools is necessary! To see that Impact Investing is getting this kind of support and validation, frankly, it is invigorating, exciting, and illustrates that this is a movement that is here to stay.
I also learned that the local offices of traditional firms are open to the local impact investing conversation and have graciously invited me in to speak with their clients, yet, they are limited on what they can do from a local impact investing stand point. Compliance plays a major role at these firms and on the risk scale, local private impact investments are considered very high risk, and can, at times, make compliance very uncomfortable. From those that I have met with, they recognize the importance of having a specialist, or the farmer, if you will ;), and myself and Gingras Global are happy to fill that role.
Second, Independent Financial Advisors, those not affiliated with a large broker dealer, I picture them as the lions and giraffes on the farm. Strong, more agile, independent, ready to act, alert, and these professionals are also embracing Impact Investing. While they may not get the top down support as the traditional investment firms have, these advisors are eager to learn more about this topic. They can more freely incorporate impact investing into their client conversations. These client conversations can cover the gambit of types of Impact Investments. Learning about and discussing global/national publicly traded Impact Investing mutual funds to uncovering what is happening locally, they do not have the same confines as your traditional investment firm, yet still have compliance requirements that must be met.
I have also had the amazing opportunity to partner, present, and educate several Independent Financial Advisor networks. They have graciously opened their doors to allow me to not only speak to their advisor networks but have invited me to client meetings as well. They understand that for the right client, local impact investing will be a very valuable part of their planning conversation and will also leverage the expertise of the farmer, me, to help facilitate these conversations. In addition, these advisors can freely use the tools we have created (Impact Capital Discovery Report (ICDR), Impact Capital Match Analysis (ICMA), and Reporting Library) to help foster the local impact investing conversation with their clients and help them with the next steps. All the while aligning with my goal of creating more local capital pools.
Third, Family Wealth Management Offices, I picture them as the the Bunga’s (or honey badgers), of the financial advisor spectrum. Bunga himself, is a strong, new idea generating, committed character, and honey badgers in general are fierce, quick, and ready for battle. I think this perfectly sums up the family office advisors approach to including impact investing as part of their client’s holistic financial planning conversations. As with all financial advisors, they are committed to their clients, however they can be nimble to include new ideas and concepts without having the same compliance limitations.
Family wealth management offices have been very eager to include Impact Investing as part of their client conversations. What they also taught me is that their clients are leading the charge for education and opportunities to invest locally instead of nationally or globally. These offices are openly embracing myself and Gingras Global and leveraging our expertise and tools (ICDR, ICMA, and Reporting Library) to deliver local impact investing conversations.
A Good Farmer
Now, as you can imagine, with T-Rex’s, Lions, Giraffe’s and Honey Badgers on the farm, there is a lot of activity around impact investing coming to the forefront. But as any good farmer knows, if you do not cultivate and interact with each animal properly, the message and effort can get lost along the way.
But fear not! Being able to work with so many passionate people all rallying around Impact Investing and fully supporting client education is awesome! By being able to share the story of local impact investing and having that story being told by multiple voices, then backing that story with a strategic tools that facilitate a thought provoking process, this farmer knows that it is only a matter of time before more investors get involved in the local impact investing scene.
Jennifer Davis-Papa is the Managing Director of the Financial Professionals Division at Gingras Global. Jennifer has more than 20 years of experience in the field of investing and is a catalyst and inspiration to many on this journey of Impact Capital.
Reach out to Jennifer.DavisPapa@GingrasGlobal.com
~Speak Truth ~ Demonstrate Impact ~ Declare Life~