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Recently, Commonfund convened an expert panel of investment managers to hold  a roundtable discussion and take a closer look at the different impact investing strategies being implemented today.

The roundtable participants were: Timothy Coffin, Senior Vice President of Breckinridge Capital Advisors; David Richardson, CFA, Head of Business Development and Client Service for Impax Asset Management in North America; Brian Trelstad, a Partner at Bridges Ventures; and Suzanne West, President and CEO of Imaginea Energy Corp. The exchange was moderated by Commonfund.  Excerpts from the discussion follow:

How Do You Define Impact Investing?

Brian Trelstad, Partner at Bridges Ventures, a London- and New York-based private equity and real estate fund manager specializing in sustainable and impact investing.

“We view it as a strategy with multiple asset classes as opposed to an asset class itself. We focus on sustainability and societal impact in both growth equity and real estate, for example, and we’ve developed what we call an “impact-driven” approach to select and engage with our investments. That means focusing on opportunities across asset classes where investments can generate attractive returns by helping to meet pressing social or environmental challenges.”

Suzanne West , President and CEO of Imaginea Energy Corp., a private equity natural resources company based in Calgary, Canada, chimed in:

“Here in North America and across the world there are a lot of energy companies that have big corporate social responsibility programs. The challenge, in my mind, is that they are doing this under the banner of ‘should,’ which, ironically, means it might not be sustainable…. when you wake up you don’t think about breathing, you just do it. If you make it part of your business and think of it as an opportunity rather than a cost, the possibilities that are showing up for us in this space are shockingly good. The magic of ‘and’ is that both get better.”

What Are Some Factors That Led You To The Emergence of Your Particular Style of Impact Investing?

Timothy Coffin, Senior Vice President of Breckinridge Capital Advisors, a manager of high-grade fixed income portfolios:

“We believe that the history of responsible investing has largely been written in the equity market because a lot of it is based on negative screening and shareholder actions. From our perspective, ESG is a natural fit for the credit market as a risk issue, and we think it will become very widely employed in the credit market because of an increasing focus on effective pricing of long-term risk. A factor helping drive the interest is the increase in data availability. The more we study sustainable investing and the demand for it, the more we realize how much data has come online in the last five or six years. The evolution of data providers — Bloomberg, MSCI Sustainalytics and others — gives us the opportunity to perform analysis that is reliable from sector to sector.”

Suzanne West:

“My epiphany was the realization that energy is a huge part of people's’ standard of living and raising the standard of living is one of the best solutions we have to address really big problems like food and clean water. Energy is actually part of the solution—we have the potential to be such a force for good. Too often in my industry, however, parties are relegated to being either tree huggers or greedy capitalists. As an entrepreneur, it occurs to me that we are missing all the amazing space in between, which has the potential to make the pie bigger for everyone.”

To read more on the expert panel’s discussion on Impact Investing, download this article here.

Disclaimer

Information, opinions, or commentary concerning the financial markets, economic conditions, or other topical subject matter are prepared, written, or created prior to printing and do not reflect current, up-to-date, market or economic conditions. Commonfund disclaims any responsibility to update such information, opinions, or commentary. To the extent views presented forecast market activity, they may be based on many factors in addition to those explicitly stated in this material. Forecasts of experts inevitably differ. Views attributed to third parties are presented to demonstrate the existence of points of view, not as a basis for recommendations or as investment advice. Managers who may or may not subscribe to the views expressed in this material make investment decisions for funds maintained by Commonfund or its affiliates. The views presented in this material may not be relied upon as an indication of trading intent on behalf of any Commonfund fund, or of any Commonfund manager. Market and investment views of third parties presented in this material do not necessarily reflect the views of Commonfund and Commonfund disclaims any responsibility to present its views on the subjects covered in statements by third parties. Statements concerning Commonfund’s views of possible future outcomes in any investment asset class or market, or of possible future economic developments, are not intended, and should not be construed, as forecasts or predictions of the future investment performance of any Commonfund fund. Such statements are also not intended as recommendations by any Commonfund entity or employee to the recipient of the presentation. It is Commonfund’s policy that investment recommendations to its clients must be based on the investment objectives and risk tolerances of each individual client. All market outlook and similar statements are based upon information reasonably available as of the date of this presentation (unless an earlier date is stated with regard to particular information), and reasonably believed to be accurate by Commonfund. Commonfund disclaims any responsibility to provide the recipient of this presentation with updated or corrected information. Past performance is not indicative of future results. For more information please refer to Important Disclosures.

Disclaimer

Information, opinions, or commentary concerning the financial markets, economic conditions, or other topical subject matter are prepared, written, or created prior to printing and do not reflect current, up-to-date, market or economic conditions. Commonfund disclaims any responsibility to update such information, opinions, or commentary. To the extent views presented forecast market activity, they may be based on many factors in addition to those explicitly stated in this material. Forecasts of experts inevitably differ. Views attributed to third parties are presented to demonstrate the existence of points of view, not as a basis for recommendations or as investment advice. Managers who may or may not subscribe to the views expressed in this material make investment decisions for funds maintained by Commonfund or its affiliates. The views presented in this material may not be relied upon as an indication of trading intent on behalf of any Commonfund fund, or of any Commonfund manager. Market and investment views of third parties presented in this material do not necessarily reflect the views of Commonfund and Commonfund disclaims any responsibility to present its views on the subjects covered in statements by third parties. Statements concerning Commonfund’s views of possible future outcomes in any investment asset class or market, or of possible future economic developments, are not intended, and should not be construed, as forecasts or predictions of the future investment performance of any Commonfund fund. Such statements are also not intended as recommendations by any Commonfund entity or employee to the recipient of the presentation. It is Commonfund’s policy that investment recommendations to its clients must be based on the investment objectives and risk tolerances of each individual client. All market outlook and similar statements are based upon information reasonably available as of the date of this presentation (unless an earlier date is stated with regard to particular information), and reasonably believed to be accurate by Commonfund. Commonfund disclaims any responsibility to provide the recipient of this presentation with updated or corrected information. Past performance is not indicative of future results. For more information please refer to Important Disclosures.