Every fortnight, we hand over the blog to one of the London Shapers, to give you a flavour of what they do, how they think and what's really going on in our hearts and minds. Today's piece comes from Antonia Rofagha, who was a Senior Policy Advisor to the UK government on responsible tech innovation and social impact investing.
It is becoming increasingly clear that we are standing at a critical juncture, whether it is the growing threat of climate change, increasing inequality, or ever more present homelessness in our cities. If we want future generations to live in a sustainable and prosperous world, we must all play our part - as governments, businesses, and as individuals.
In our blog post last month, written by fellow Global Shaper Laura Round, you read about the increasing power individuals have to help create a more sustainable future through their investments and pensions. This forms part of a wider growing impact investment movement. This is built on the notion that individuals should be able to use their investments and savings to have a positive impact on the world they live in, as well as to generate a financial return. A huge driving force behind this is consumer demand. Research has shown that in the UK, nearly two-thirds of citizens would like their money to support companies that are both profitable and make a positive contribution to society and the environment.
Many people associate the idea of social impact investing and relevant initiatives such as the Sustainable Development Goals primarily with the developing world. However, our investments and savings can have an impact closer to home than we might expect. In fact, the UK has a growing and globally leading impact economy, with approximately £150 billion of committed capital to social or environmental impact investments.
By embedding social impact considerations into our mainstream finance products, we can unlock much needed capital to help address some of our most pressing challenges in the UK. What does that mean for you as an individual? You could decide to deposit your money in an impact-oriented bank account, for example. While such products are still niche, they are growing. For example, institutions such as Triodos Bank offer savings/ investment products and lend money to organisations that make a positive difference to society. Through their ‘Know Where Your Money Goes’ app, you can even see the social impact created in your area. For example, you might support a business in the UK that helps ex-offenders back into work or you might support an organisation that provides access to housing for people who were previously homeless.
What is important is that everyone can decide for themselves what it means to them to express their personal values through their investment or saving choices. For some, this might mean they would like to make investments with an intentional social impact - a ‘social impact investment’. For others it might mean they want to avoid unethical exposure through a responsible investment. As experts in the field have put it - there is ‘a spectrum of capital’. This ranges all the way from responsible to sustainable, to impact and philanthropic investing [source: UK National Advisory Board on Impact Investing].
For many of us, making any kind of active personal finance decision can seem like a daunting concept. Investing or saving your money in line with your values can seem even more daunting - defining what that means for you personally is the first step in the right direction.