News and Views

Update: Building back better after coronavirus

27 May 2020 | 0 comments

It has been a couple of weeks since we first updated you about our response to the coronavirus crisis, our activities since our launch in November and our plans for the coming months. The human and economic cost of this pandemic has been devastating for individuals, families and businesses and we are likely to experience the aftershocks for a very long time.

There is a widespread understanding that going back to ‘business as usual’ would be the wrong choice. As we emerge from this crisis, we firmly believe there is an increased need to create a more resilient society that will withstand global shocks, like the one we are facing now, more effectively. For the Institute, what that means is building on the work we had already started before coronavirus and encouraging others to join us.

Focusing on immediate needs in the coronavirus crisis

To achieve that, the Institute continues to respond to coronavirus by helping more money reach those most in need and by facilitating the sharing of information and knowledge during these challenging times, which remain our top priorities.

In the last seven weeks, the Institute has launched a webinar series with a focus on national and international responses to COVID-19. We had a successful discussion with Cliff Prior from Big Society Capital and Nick Temple from Social Investment Business who answered questions about two emergency lending facilities for small businesses, social enterprises and charities affected by coronavirus.

In our first Knowledge Exchange series webinar, we discussed the role of National Advisory Boards for impact investment (the Institute is the UK NAB) in Africa and the UK in response to coronavirus with Dolika Banda, a Board Member at CDC, Rebecca MacDonald from Big Society Capital, Monique Mathys from the Impact Management Project who was previously with the South African National Advisory Board for impact investment, and Sebastian Welisiejko from the Global Steering Group for Impact Investment.

To respond to the immediate need for information, the Institute set up a coronavirus response page on our website that features funding resources, webinar information and recordings as well as other relevant content. We also continue to send out regular email updates to more than 2,000 organisations and individuals who are part of our network.

The Institute continues to take part in regular calls, to learn from and offer its resources and support to our impact investment colleagues around the world; most recently during the Global Steering Group’s annual leaders meeting, which focused on global responses to the coronavirus crisis.

Mobilising capital and making it more accountable

Mobilising big pools of capital to invest in a sustainable future, making capital more accountable for its positive and negative impacts, and empowering individuals to save and invest with their values are our three objectives. We hope that our work towards meeting those objectives will enable us to truly build back better.

  • Fiduciary duty remains of the heart of discussions about the ability of pension funds to invest with impact. With the generous support of a legal panel made up of five city law firms, the Institute produced a peer-reviewed legal analysis of the compatibility of fiduciary duty and impact investing. We will champion key principles of the paper in our engagement with pension trustees and their stakeholders to show that there is no legal hurdle for pension scheme trustees that prevents them from considering social and environmental issues as well as member preferences in their investment decisions. We were pleased to see our joint letter with Make My Money Matter and ShareAction on this topic published in the FT.
  • More than ever, we need to contribute to efforts to get more impact investment to regions of the UK that have been overlooked in the past. Together with the Good Economy and Pensions for Purpose the Institute has developed a joint proposal for an ambitious project that identifies ways of scaling up place-based impact investment to help level regional inequalities in the UK.
  • The Institute is finalising an educational competency framework that will make it easier for professional and educational organisations to integrate impact investing into their training and qualifications for investment professionals (including IFAs, pension trustees, consultants and investment managers). We set up a cross-sector panel to review and take forward the work.
  • As we have experienced lockdown, the importance of people having a good home at a price they can afford has become more evident than ever. Private investment in affordable housing will play a vital role in developing much needed new housing that is safe and delivers on the decarbonisation agenda. The Institute joined a coalition of 11 partners, led by The Good Economy, to develop a sector-wide approach for Environmental, Social and Governance reporting that supports and increases private sector investment in this important area. The white paper ‘UK Social Housing: Building a Sector Standard Approach for ESG Reporting,’ is now open for consultation and engagement. The Institute has also commissioned research on the financial performance of social housing as an asset class, to inform our pensions work.