BlueMark and CASE at Duke University Publish Impact Best Practices Guide for Asset Allocators

BlueMark and CASE at Duke University Publish Impact Best Practices Guide for Asset Allocators

New guide offers tools and tips for allocators to evaluate and engage with impact fund managers, as well as potential red flags

 

Impact verification specialist BlueMark, together with CASE at Duke University, today published a new guide to impact management for asset allocators – “A Field Guide: Impact Due Diligence and Management for Asset Allocators” – available for download at https://bluemarktideline.com/impact-allocator-guide. The guide, which brings together the wisdom of leading impact investing practitioners and best market practices, is designed to drive more rigor and consistency in how allocators evaluate and manage private market funds that invest for positive impacts on people and the planet.

The guide and the research that informed it was funded by the Tipping Point Fund on Impact Investing, a donor collaborative committed to supporting the creation of public goods critical to long-term growth and integrity of the impact investing industry.

“The asset allocators we spoke to overwhelmingly stressed the importance of continuously learning how to better assess and manage the impact funds that they have trusted with their capital,” said Sarah Gelfand, Managing Director at BlueMark.

“As best practices in impact management continue to evolve, it’s important to level-set about where the market is today and where it needs to go,” said Cathy Clark, Faculty Director for CASE. “While we recognize asset allocators are wary of over-burdening fund managers or creating more friction points when allocating capital, we believe this guide lays out key practices for how and when allocators should engage with managers throughout the investment lifecycle.”

The guide offers tools and tips for allocators during due diligence and as part of their ongoing management of impact funds, as well as potential red flags that could signal a lack of rigor, capacity, and/or intentionality on the part of these managers. The guide also includes practice guides to help highlight differences between light and high-touch engagement and taking into consideration manager’s size, the size of particular investment, and the manager’s thematic focus.

As part of due diligence, the research uncovered key areas for asset allocators to evaluate:

  • Impact Strategy: The manager’s impact thesis, which includes their strategic objectives as well as how they have incorporated these objectives into the fund’s governance
  • Impact Integration in Operations: The ways the manager has integrated its impact strategy into it systems and processes across the investment lifecycle
  • Team Capabilities & Resourcing: The expertise, capacity, and structure of the manager’s team with regard to impact.

Post-investment, the key areas for allocators to focus on when working with managers include:

  • Impact Reporting & Disclosure: Supporting adherence to and use of impact management systems, as well as reviewing reported impact results
  • Impact Monitoring & Improvement: Providing feedback and input to help strengthen the manager’s impact management approach and practice.

The report was released in tandem with a webinar hosted by BlueMark and CASE. Expert practitioners and report contributors representing leading asset allocators and asset managers engaged in a discussion surrounding key takeaways from the report. Specifically, the group discussed ways asset allocators and asset managers can collaborate to promote efficiency and strengthen impact-focused efforts.

About BlueMark
BlueMark is a leading provider of independent impact verification and intelligence for the impact and sustainable investing market. As a certified B Corp, BlueMark’s mission is to “strengthen trust in impact investing” by providing investors with market-leading impact verification services, benchmarks, and analytics. BlueMark’s verification methodologies draw on a range of industry standards, frameworks, and regulations, including the Impact Management Project (IMP), the Operating Principles for Impact Management (Impact Principles), the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI), SDG Impact, and the Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation (SFDR). Learn more about BlueMark and impact verification at www.bluemarktideline.com.

About CASE
CASE is an award-winning research and education center based at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business. Since 2002, CASE has served as a hub for teaching, research, and practitioner engagement in social impact, and in 2011, launched the CASE i3 Initiative on Impact Investing, the first global program at a leading business school to blend academic rigor with practical knowledge on the growing field of impact investing. Over the past 20 years, CASE has been engaged by some of the most significant global organizations for its rigor, unbiased perspective, and ability to distill and communicate key factors for success in the impact economy. CASE has educated thousands of business students through classes and experiential learning programs, and tens of thousands of impact professionals through online tools, research, thought leadership, and executive trainings to improve their ability to define, manage, and achieve impact. Learn more at https://centers.fuqua.duke.edu/case/.

Pioneers Post – “‘Best in class’: BlueMark names 10 impact investors leading the field in impact management”

Pioneers Post – “‘Best in class’: BlueMark names 10 impact investors leading the field in impact management”

This article was originally published in Pioneers Post.

LeapFrog Investments, Bain Capital and Calvert Impact Capital are among the impact investors leading the way in impact management, according to verification specialist BlueMark.

Ten investors were revealed this month as part of BlueMark’s latest ‘best practice leaderboard’.

The list is published in BlueMark’s fourth annual edition of Making the Mark, which gives data and insights on best practices in impact management in the impact and sustainable investing market. The report is based on 84 verifications for 75 investors (there may be more than one verification per firm, focusing on different strategies or funds) managing a combined US$209bn in impact assets under management.

BlueMark’s research reveals significant areas for improvement remain 

The BlueMark Practice Leaderboard was first published in 2022 and included six investors. This year’s leaderboard contains those six investors (participants are eligible to stay on the leaderboard within two years of BlueMark verification) plus four more.

The impact investors named on the leaderboard are (in alphabetical order):

  • AgDevCo
  • Bain Capital Double Impact
  • BlueEarth Capital
  • British International Investment
  • Calvert Impact Capital
  • Finance in Motion
  • LeapFrog Investments
  • Nuveen Private Equity Impact
  • Nuveen Fixed Income Impact
  • Trill Impact

To earn a place in the leaderboard, investors must score in the top quartile, based on their alignment with the Impact Principles (fully named the Operating Principles for Impact Management). The Impact Principles were launched in April 2019 in an attempt to combat impact-washing and provide a framework to ensure that impact is integrated throughout an investment’s lifecycle. There are more than 170 signatories to the principles across 39 countries. Being in the top quartile means that the investor incorporates all the core elements of impact management as well as going beyond the requirements of the Impact Principles.

The 2023 edition of Making the Mark highlights that less than one third (32%) of investors engage with their target stakeholders such as workers, customers and community members. This is a slight increase on the 28% identified in last year’s sample.

It also points out that the adoption of staff incentive systems linked to impact remains limited; that nearly half of investors do not include an analysis of impact risk in due diligence; and that just 27% of investors are taking consistent actions to ensure that impact can be sustained.

Christina Leijonhufvud (pictured), CEO of BlueMark, which was founded in January 2020 and is a certified B Corp, said: “While we are encouraged by how many more investors are committed to aligning with industry best practices, BlueMark’s research reveals significant areas for improvement remain across key practice areas critical to achieving both impact and financial performance.”