Taking the high-speed train to purpose investment

Julie Davitz
Posted by Julie Davitz
Strategic Philanthropy

It’s safe to say the philosophy of conscious consumerism has entered the mainstream. It’s never been easier to find sustainably sourced and produced products — from coffee to clothing to household cleaning products.

Blur of fast-moving train inside a beautiful, contemporary train station with blue ceiling.For investors, conscious capitalism — the investment philosophy founded on the belief that businesses can and should create a positive social and environmental impact — might well be entering its golden age.

Conscious capitalism’s growth in importance to investors around the world (especially millennials) is hard to deny.

Our most recent BNP Paribas Global Entrepreneur Report identified social impact as a key metric for measuring business performance according to 39% of respondents — up from 10% less than 3 years ago.

As part of the Bank of the West Wealth Management’s Family Wealth Advisors team, I recently had the opportunity to connect with a small group of conscious capitalism thought leaders and highly active impact investors at the Gratitude Railroad Investor’s Retreat.

Founded by former hedge fund CEO Howard Fischer and tech entrepreneur and private equity investor Eric Jacobsen, Gratitude Railroad funds early stage startups trying to generate positive social and environmental impact along with strong financial returns. In addition, the organization hosts gatherings in communities around the U.S with the aim of educating and inspiring like-minded investors.

Attendees included some of the most forward thinking impact investors with experience across asset classes and sectors. We were treated to a wide range of presentations on topics including gender lens investing, the potential for carbon markets and technology solutions to address climate change, new reports on sustainability trends and even pitches from a group of social entrepreneurs themselves. There were robust discussions of the ecosystem around what we call purpose investing.

I also had a chance to share the Bank of the West’s approach to sustainability, and our recent $1 billion multi-year renewable energy commitment including:

  • $500 million in new financing for renewable and clean energy to support, for example, the financing of hydroelectric, solar, and wind power sources;
  • $300 million in loans to help individuals transition to EV/zero emission vehicles;
  • $200 million in investments and loans directed toward cities’ infrastructure and housing projects that are LEED certified or support energy efficiency or energy conservation.

For investors at any stage of their own evolution toward a more conscious approach to capitalism, purpose investing, environmental and social governance (ESG), SRI, or strategic philanthropy I encourage you to contact us.

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