Investing in Positive Outcomes: How to Amplify Your Institutional Net Impact

Investing in Positive Outcomes: How to Amplify Your Institutional Net Impact

A few months ago we asked our audience an important question: do you know the net impact of your investments? (Spoiler alert: many don’t, but the post covers why you should!)

Over the past year, we’ve been asking our institutional investors across Canada something similar: what kind of impact are your institutional investments having on the world?

Making a positive institutional net impact is an important goal and success metric for many institutions — whether educational, environmental, community-oriented or global. And financial impacts can play a big part in achieving that success. And yet many institutions continue to approach investing from a more traditional standpoint — focusing solely on returns.

Now don’t get us wrong: returns are critical to an effective institutional investment strategy. But we know from experience that you can achieve so much more than that with impact investing.

Just ask Makeway, a national charity and public foundation (formerly known as the Tides Canada Foundation), which has included impact as a core goal in everything they do — including their investments. “We have been ESG and fossil free for many years, and we believe our investments should align with our purpose, which is to support community-led solutions that will have a global impact,” says Chris Little, director of finance at Makeway.

Little has been working with Genus to push the needle on the foundation’s impact investing efforts. “We’ve been moving our portfolio from a more traditional one to an ESG screen portfolio, and even further along that continuum into higher impact investments,” she says. “All of our investments are now generating a net positive impact. That’s the vision we’ve set out.”

A Net Impact Score for your investments​

Our newly released Institutional Portfolio Net Impact Score Ranking Report 2020 has revealed that, much like Makeway, many Canadian institutions are aligning their investments with their goals to influence the positive changes they want to see in the world — both by screening out negative impact investments from their portfolios and by focusing on making positive impact investments — the kind that support companies working toward solutions to critical global problems.

To help them along, we’ve developed our Institutional Portfolio Net Impact ScoreTM, which measures both the positive and negative impacts of public equity investments, resulting in a single, overall score.

Instead of focusing only on positive impact investing or—conversely—screening solely for negative impact, the Net Impact Score provides a holistic view that helps the investor account for the destructive nature and the beneficial nature of their investments in one metric.

Our impact scoring is based on the United Nations’ 17 sustainable development goals, which range from eradicating poverty and hunger, to reducing climate change and supporting responsible production and consumption.

By applying Net Impact Scoring to an institutional investment portfolio, impact investors can ensure that their portfolio creates an overall positive impact. For example, an institution that invests in renewable energy in one part of their portfolio in order to reduce carbon emissions can rest assured that they won’t negate that benefit by simultaneously investing in a coal utility company in another part of their portfolio.

Amplifying institutional net impact

For its part, Makeway focuses on four key impact areas when it comes to its institutional investments and beyond, says Little: “sector influence — how do we influence other foundations to move the dial on impact investing and become involved; partnerships in innovation — we worked with Genus on developing a customizable donor-advised impact fund; growing the impact investing ecosystem through program-related funds — we launched a shared platform supporting Northern Indigenous communities; and lastly, how to better leverage our assets for impact — we worked with Genus on transitioning to its high impact equity fund.”

In 2020, our impact investments have been extremely resilient in the face of market volatility.”
Chris Little, Director of Finance, Makeway Foundation

Makeway is now working with Genus on developing impact reporting, to make it easier to measure financial impact against its overall goals. “You don’t want your investments working against your work on the ground,” Little says. “Amplifying impact is really critical.”

LIttle offers the following tips to institutions looking to embark on a journey of impact investing: “It’s not a very linear journey,” she says. “It took us a bit of time to work with the team and with our board to get to the clear vision of what we mean by impact and where we want to go,” she adds, “but once we had clarity, we could move forward while keeping it fairly flexible.”

Learn more about our institutional impact investing services or contact us to chat about a personalized plan tailored to the impact you want to make in the world.


Client impact

“Graduating from a big bank to Genus was one of the best financial steps we've ever taken. Genus has delivered reliable asset growth despite our moderate risk tolerance. As our financial security has grown, we've also been the beneficiaries of a great client experience. The company's communications have been consistently transparent and informative, including educational webinars and a well-designed web portal where we can track investments daily. Most importantly to us, our portfolio manager has always responded swiftly and thoroughly to our questions and requests. ”
Martin T.
"Having relatively diverse financial goals and needs, along with a slight reticence regarding the stock market, Genus skillfully addressed all of our concerns, and put together a truly exceptional plan: Fossil free funds and a diversified investment portfolio, check; An effective Impact investment portfolio that coincides with our hopes and dreams for a better world, check; Professional advice and assistance to create a donor advised charitable fund with immediate charitable receipts for tax purposes, check. Returns? Way beyond our expectations! We even had some fun along the way and certainly enjoyed an incredible two-year start to what will be a satisfying long-term relationship with Genus."
Marc B.
“I love the service I get at Genus.”
Chris H.
“Leslie and I were fellow board members when we met twenty years ago. For the last ten she has been thoughtful in the construction of an investment strategy for my family and is executing the strategy as planned. The team at Genus has met my expectations and are a pleasure to deal with.”
Bob Q.
“For over 15 years, I have provided selection and performance evaluation of multiple investment managers for a significant family office. Leslie and Genus have been foundational for me in my role. I have always found Leslie and her colleagues to be insightful and proactive, and found the performance of their portion of the portfolio to be well above benchmarks. And they have been a great pleasure to work with.”
Douglas H.
“Genus is a very innovative firm. I am pleased to invest in their Fossil Free and Impact strategies that help me invest in line with my values.”
Marnie C.
“Great team of professionals. Excellent website and reporting. Responds to inquiries promptly. Very pleased with the process of changing from another company to Genus as well. Kudos.”
David L.
“Genus consistently provides a good, clearly explained, comprehensive picture of the general economic and financial situation, along with an excellent account of the investment decisions made in relation to this. Genus’ equally strong concern with clients’ questions and requests for further information is also a very important part of the service it provides.”
Allan S.
“Back in 1992 when I found myself at fifty with a substantial amount of money to invest, I knew just one thing — that I didn’t want to contribute to tobacco companies, arms manufacturers, or oil. But over the ensuing years the options for socially responsible investing have become far more sophisticated and I’m very happy that this is a big part of the Genus approach. I also very much appreciate the long-term relationship with my portfolio manager, Mary Lou.”
Ann P.

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