After 5 years of relationship building, we can now assemble a room of over 25 top RIAs from across the country who are trying to figure out how to implement Impact investing into their service offerings. This was not even possible 2 years ago. The rationale for this change is for another day, but the point is many understand the need and the demand for Impact investing, and are now trying to figure out a path forward. I respect RIAs taking the time to understand and deliberating on how best to implement Impact, but at the same time, it’s hard to wait for action knowing that investors are open, interested, and missing out on investment trends and the opportunity to align their values with their portfolio.
We often get asked how others are implementing Impact investing with their clients. My go-to answer is repeating what a successful multi-family office told us. Her simplistic words to us were, “We made a decision and started to invest. You just have to start doing it.” She was not saying don’t do the research, due diligence, etc. -She was saying to stop trying to get your arms around everything. Find an investment theme or work to solve the immediate needs of some known clients. Disclose the risk of this new area, but start investing. Nike may have coined one of the best slogans of all time, because there is so much truth in it: Just Do It.
I echo that same advice to RIAs that are on the fence. In fact, the first step may be finding an impact investment yourself, doing the research, and then writing the check. That’s exactly how my wife and I started nearly 10 years ago – first with mobile home parks, then affordable multi-family, then faith-aligned private equity, renewable energy, etc. We had no idea it would lead us into our biggest investment yet: starting CommonGood in 2017. Each step we took built on the next. The key was to jump in and start doing.