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In two weeks, hundreds of delegates across different industries will converge on London for the Impact Investing Summit 2018. The annual conference is just one sign of increasing interest by investors and consumers to put their money where it can do good. In fact, one of the planned keynotes is titled, "Impact Investing is the New Norm.” Addressing ethical expectations is becoming a strategic advantage. Research by British bank Barclays supports the trend. In a 2018 poll, the bank found a 13 percent rise in the number of investors under the age of 40 who had made an impact investment—from 30 percent in 2015 to 43 percent this year. While investors over age 50 haven’t yet made the leap to impact investing—only 9 percent of 50-59 year-olds and 3 percent of 60 and older—the fact that younger generations with less cumulative wealth are already targeting socially and environmentally responsible investments bodes well for the future of impact investing.
What is Impact Investing?
Impact investments are defined as investments that deliver positive social and environmental impact while still generating positive financial returns. In 2014, Abigail Nobel, Head of Impact Investing at the World Economic Forum, told Harvard Business Review that “Impact investing is about strategy. A lot of businesses have pursued social responsibility more out of their marketing departments or as some sort of charitable donation. Not only are they not capturing the full value because it doesn’t create that virtuous cycle, it’s just not sustainable.”
The Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN) identifies several core components of impact investing: