There was a great Castlefield turn out at the WHEB Sustainability conference this year, with representatives from both CAP and CIP making the trip to the wonderful Royal Society of Arts venue to hear the latest thoughts on impact investing.
This was the second annual conference hosted by WHEB and provided an excellent opportunity to hear the insights of the WHEB investment team as well as outside speakers. The team made use of the almost ubiquitous technology of smart phones to encourage audience participation, using anonymous polling throughout the session to gauge attitudes to solar panels, electric cars as well as finding out just how knowledgeable attendees were on the subject of consumer waste.
Head of Research, Seb Beloe, spoke on the topic of ESG. Seb and the WHEB team feel that although these issues must be considered, they are not an output in their own right and merely make up an ingredient in the impact investing recipe. The view of impact investing is that it requires:
Intentionality: investors must want to generate positive impact through their investing
Investment with return expectations
Range of return expectations
The Impact must be measureable in some way.
Using these core characteristics WHEB aims to deliver superior, risk-adjusted returns by investing in companies with a positive social or environmental impact. They are committed to measuring this impact through reporting the progress of the investment funds.
Fund Manager, Ted Franks, spoke about the diffusion of innovation and the adoption of new technology. He used the work of Everett Rogers to highlight how new ideas and products are taken up by society in an S-curve shape, slowly at first followed by a rapid increase in adoption and then tailing off as the technology ages. He talked of how this pattern is useful to identify the stage prior to new technology “taking off” and being rapidly adopted by society at large. Ted also gave an update on Fund performance and how the bottom-up, thematic approach to investing has played out over the last year.
Abyd Kamarli from Bank of America Merrill Lynch gave a talk entitled “Post COP21, the road ahead” in which he talked of the difficulties facing the financial services industry as there is a push to limit the global temperature increase to below 2⁰C following the Paris Climate Conference last year. Quentin Drewell from Accenture was the second outside speaker at the conference. He spoke about the importance of a cyclical economy in a Carbon-constrained world. He highlighted the importance of reusing what is usually wasted rather than maintaining the traditionally linear journey from the start of the useful life of a product to the time it is discarded.
The conference was rounded off with a question and answer session where CIO George Latham, Ted and Seb addressed issues as disparate as how important they feel a rise in robotics may be and boardroom diversity.
Head of Research at WHEB Group, Seb Beloe, addressing the audience at the WHEB Conference.
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