Sustainability’s female financiers: Investing in a future that works
By Dawn Yankeelov
Capital market opportunities and risks in sustainability finance have begun to be in vogue, especially for Generation X and Millennials looking for how to wisely invest dollars for a future that works. A low-carbon economy has an especially strong appeal to the generations after the Baby Boomers, and they are turning their finances to investments that showcase choices that speak to the economic value of social enterprises.
When those sustainability dollars also can support women in the traditionally male world of finance, more is the better for socially conscious investors. Realizing that, Financial Advisor magazine has spotlighted women visionaries in the last four months who truly are shifting the ground beneath their feet, and finding disruptive models to feed in public and private markets.
“We feel we’ve made a commitment to covering sustainability, and women have been involved in financial advice more in this area versus overall financial advice," said Dorothy Hinchcliff, the magazine's executive editor. "So when Paul Ellis, the writer of the series, suggested it, we agreed that women leaders should be more visible in this area, where we see that they are making contributions,”
From asset management to institutional investment, these women have wandered out of corporate America’s mainstay circles to carve niches in areas that are truly fashionable in the green economy.
Non-financial data is finally having its days and nights in the spotlight. Environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors are now crunched as important bellwethers of change and sustainable action.
As Eva Yazhari, CEO of Beyond Capital Fund, points out, “The generation of impact investors before ours built the foundation for what we’re doing today.”
Rural far-flung locations away from the American businessman’s eye have laser-focused attention to new emerging markets—places like Africa, India get credit for having mobile-first entrepreneurs poised to think globally.
Featured with Yazhari in the article is Dulari Amin, a principal at Synergy Ventures, who also serves on the Beyond Capital Fund board. She goes into detail about her years in India and how the focus to outreach via the phone for companies there has paid off for the early entrepreneurial markets. Many of the championed players receiving investment are living on the poverty line but have the ideas to innovate and find the disruption necessary to create a new marketplace. Population escalation in key economies has spawned further interest in taking impact investing from US players farther, she points out.
Across the United States, organizations are popping up that support this type of impact investing: Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs (ANDE) and TONIIC, the global action network for impact investors. GIIN, Global Impact Investing Network, is considered the largest of this type of organization with 20,000 people in its ranks since its 2009 formation, based in New York City.
Some of the other women featured in the series included:
- Colleen Denzler, CIO of First Affirmative Financial Network and president of the SRI Conference
- Pamela Jacobs, executive managing director of impact investing, Envestnet Investment
- Randy Kaufman, founder of Wealth Strategies Group
- Allyson McDonald, CEO of Work Capital
- Kathleen McQuiggan, advisor at Artemis Financial Advisors
- Holly Ruxin, founder of Montcalm TCR
- Tanya Svidler, director of ESG solutions at Morningstar
Financial Advisor magazine decided to work with Paul Ellis of Paul Ellis Consulting to write the series of six articles on the phenomena of impact investment in sustainability projects. He works with financial advisors to integrate sustainability and impact investment strategies into their outreach.
He contends in his articles that not participating in the growth potential of disruptive technologies can be an issue for money and asset managers. Today’s disruptive technologies he cited include those around clean water management, driverless cars, AI and others.
The writer is a frequent contributor to ProudGreenBuilding.com and ProudGreenHome.com. She is the CEO and executive director of Technology Association of Louisville Kentucky and the president of ASPectx, an agency specializing in marketing, strategy and competitive analysis.