IIX and Shujog held a successful and informative Impact Chat in conjunction with UBS on Tuesday, January 17, 2012 in Singapore on the topic of “Changing Investment Philosophies of Impact Investors: How Foundations and Banks are participating in the paradigm shift in Impact Investing.” Attendees heard comments on impact investing from Alex Friedman, Chief Investment Officer for UBS Wealth Management, and David Evans, UBS Head of Philanthropy & Values Based Investing, Asia Pacific, along with Durreen Shahnaz, Founder and Chairwoman of IIX, and Robert Kraybill, Managing Director of IIX.
After opening remarks by David and a compelling introduction by Durreen, Alex and Robert sat down for a lively conversation on the state of impact investing and the evolving approaches that foundations and banks, among others, are taking to this emerging asset class – a topic to which Alex brought a unique perspective based on his current role at UBS and his former role as Chief Financial Officer of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Our audience, which included old friends as well as new, was treated to a first person account of the Gates Foundation’s historic decision to begin committing a portion of its endowment to impact investments. Alex also shared insights from some of the impact investments that the foundation undertook under his watch, including a guarantee of a pioneering bond offering by charter school operator Kipp Academy, which helped to catalyze private sector investment into this innovative section of the education market. Alex also shared his motivations for joining UBS and discussed the bank’s decision to devote significant resources to impact investment.
A lively Q&A included discussions of the importance of impact measurement to the development of the impact investment market, how investors think about the cost of capital when making impact investments, and the estimated potential of impact investing assets to grow to $1 trillion in the next 5 years and what it will take to reach this potential.