ANNOUNCEMENT – “BlueMark Launches First-of-its-Kind Benchmark for Best Practices in Impact Management”

ANNOUNCEMENT – “BlueMark Launches First-of-its-Kind Benchmark for Best Practices in Impact Management”

BlueMark Launches First-of-its-Kind Benchmark for Best Practices in Impact Management

New tool designed for financial market participants looking to differentiate between impact leaders and impact learners

Benchmark based on 30 impact verifications of investor alignment with the Operating Principles for Impact Management, as highlighted in BlueMark’s second annual “Making the Mark” report

 

MAY 10, 2021 — BlueMark, a leading provider of independent impact verification services for investors and companies, announced the creation of a first-of its-kind benchmark for tracking best practices in impact management. Designed to root out impact-washing, BlueMark’s benchmark allows market participants to readily differentiate between impact leaders and learners.

The benchmark is based on aggregated data and insights from 30 impact verifications for investors with a combined $99 billion in impact assets under management on their alignment with the Operating Principles for Impact Management (“Impact Principles”), the leading market standard for impact management practices. Each BlueMark impact verification involves conducting multiple interviews with client teams and reviewing hundreds of pages of investment policies, transaction documents, data, and reports. The full report, “Making the Mark: The Benchmark for Impact Investing Practice,” which was developed with support from The Rockefeller Foundation, is available at https://bluemarktideline.com/making-the-mark-2021.

The benchmark includes three distinct categories that define the practices of leading, median and learning impact investors, providing a dynamic understanding of what it means to rigorously manage for impact. While the research sample analyzed by BlueMark reflects impact investors that have committed to pursue alignment with the Impact Principles, thereby embracing industry best practices, there are still revealing differences in how different investors approach impact management.

  • Practice Leaders – Practice Leaders are in the top quartile of the sample (75th percentile and above). These standard-bearers implement all of the core elements of impact management, as well as several leading-edge practices that may go above and beyond best practices. They are also committed to further learning and improvement that helps to continually advance the bar for best practice.
  • Practice Median – The Practice Median reflects the impact management practices of the median impact investor in the research sample (50th percentile). Investors at the Practice Median implement many of the core elements of impact management, but also have significant room for development.
  • Practice Learners – Practice Learners are in the bottom quartile of the sample (25th percentile and below). These investors have well-articulated impact intentions, but they lack some of the core impact management practices needed to generate positive impact. Many are early in their impact investing journeys, while others have yet to embed impact considerations at key stages of the investment process.

“The idea of a benchmark is essential to the continued institutionalization and maturation of the impact investing market,” said Christina Leijonhufvud, CEO of BlueMark and lead author of the report. “By establishing a shared consensus on best practices in impact management, we have created a valuable tool that we hope market participants can use to improve their own practices and to see where they stand against their peers.”

The 30 impact verifications cover a broad range of investor types and asset classes and highlight key opportunities and challenges for practitioners. Key findings include:

  • Growing consensus around the SDGs. 93% of impact investors in the sample align their investments with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and 48% specifically align with the 169 targets underlying the SDGs
  • Alignment of incentives with impact still in early stages. 43% directly align staff incentive systems with impact performance, including 17% that tie annual bonuses to impact and 3% that tie carry to impact
  • More effort needed to systematically avoid harm. 90% identify select ESG risks in their investment decisions, but only 43% systematically engage investees to address ESG gaps and unexpected risks
  • Impact performance needs to be more inclusive of stakeholders. 57% compare actual with expected impact performance, yet just 11% solicit input from key stakeholders to understand their impact performance
  • Impact management is a continuously iterative process. 32% monitor and review unexpected positive and negative impacts, and 30% use learnings from impact performance reviews to improve investment decisions and portfolio management

“For impact investing to have the power it can, the world and investors need to be able to see and measure impact—transparency is central to its integrity,” said Dr. Rajiv J. Shah, President of The Rockefeller Foundation, one of the founding investors in BlueMark. “Impact verification will help us hold investors accountable for both their claims and their practices.”

BlueMark will continue to update the Practice Benchmark as the firm completes additional verifications. BlueMark is also working on developing a similar benchmark for measuring and tracking impact performance.

The impact investing organizations that have had their impact management systems verified by BlueMark include: Bain Capital Double Impact, Big Society Capital, BlueOrchard Finance, Calvert Impact Capital, CDC Group, Community Investment Management, Closed Loop Partners, DEG – Deutsche Investitions- und Entwicklungsgesellschaft mbH, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), EDFI Management Company (EDFI-MC), FinDev Canada, Finnish Fund for Industrial Cooperation (Finnfund), Franklin Templeton Social Infrastructure Fund, FullCycle Management, Investment Fund for Developing Countries (IFU), Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. (KKR), LeapFrog Investments, LGT Venture Philanthropy Foundation, Nuveen, Partners Group, PG Impact Investments, Prudential Financial (Impact & Responsible Investing), Quona Capital Management, The Osiris Group, UBS Group, and Women’s World Banking Asset Management.

BlueMark will host a virtual event on “How To Be An Impact Leader” on May 13, 2021 featuring: Tomi Amosun, Managing Partner at Summit Africa; Elizabeth Boggs-Davidsen, Vice President of the Office of Development Policy at the U.S. Development Finance Corporation (USDFC); Cecilia Chao, Managing Director for Bain Capital’s Double Impact team; Maria Kozloski, Senior Vice President of Innovative Finance at The Rockefeller Foundation; and Jeremy Rogers, Chief Investment Officer for Big Society Capital. Please register at https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_1tJXz6l5RRWyyx8FsiEM5w.

 

About BlueMark

BlueMark is a leading provider of impact verification with a mission to strengthen trust in impact investing and to increase accountability for impact. BlueMark is an independent subsidiary of Tideline, a certified women-owned advisory firm in impact investing. Learn more at www.BlueMarkTideline.com.

About Tideline

Tideline, a majority women-owned impact investing consultancy, provides expert, tailored and actionable advice to clients developing impact investment strategies, products and solutions. Learn more at www.Tideline.com.

About The Rockefeller Foundation

The Rockefeller Foundation advances new frontiers of science, data, and innovation to solve global challenges related to health, food, power, and economic mobility. As a science-driven philanthropy focused on building collaborative relationships with partners and grantees, The Rockefeller Foundation seeks to inspire and foster large-scale human impact that promotes the well-being of humanity throughout the world by identifying and accelerating breakthrough solutions, ideas, and conversations. For more information, sign up for our newsletter at rockefellerfoundation.org and follow us on Twitter @RockefellerFdn.

 

Media Contact

Dmitriy Ioselevich

17 Communications

[email protected]

ANNOUNCEMENT – “BlueMark Launches First-of-its-Kind Benchmark for Best Practices in Impact Management”

STATEMENT – “Tideline Managing Partner Ben Thornley and BlueMark CEO Christina Leijonhufvud Issue Statement on SEC Risk Alert and SFDR”

Tideline Managing Partner Ben Thornley and BlueMark CEO Christina Leijonhufvud today issued a joint statement in response to recent regulatory developments in the U.S. and EU aimed at clamping down on greenwashing and impact-washing in the investment management industry.

Here is the full text of the statement:

Both the SEC in the U.S. and the ESA in Europe have begun to tackle the risk to investors of misleading impact and ESG claims. As a result, investment managers making impact and ESG claims need to be prepared for the business risk and liability implications if they are not confident there is consistency between claims and practices.

 

These efforts aimed at clamping down on greenwashing and impact-washing in the investment management industry are welcome developments and represent key steps towards improved labeling standards for ESG and impact investing products.

 

The introduction of Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation (SFDR) requirements in the EU and the SEC’s recent ‘Risk Alert’ on ESG investing reflect a growing call for investors to back up their impact and sustainability claims with evidence. Regardless of which label an investor chooses to use—ESG, responsible, sustainable, impact, etc.—the message from regulators is clear that investors must have the right policies and practices in place to back up what they claim to be doing or the results they claim to be achieving.

 

We at Tideline and BlueMark have been working with impact investors for nearly a decade to build credible impact management systems that can stand up to scrutiny. We believe that any investor that chooses to self-identify as an impact investor must have an impact management system to ensure that impact considerations are integrated into every phase of the investment process, from strategy design and due diligence to portfolio management and performance reporting.

 

This “do what you say” mantra is essential to preserving trust in impact investing, and is a big part of why Tideline launched BlueMark in 2020 as a provider of independent impact verification services. By bringing increased transparency and accountability to the impact investment market, we are driving efficiency, clarity and transparency in the manager/investor relationship and ensuring that impact promises lead to real impact results. We are encouraged by the work of financial regulators to contribute to improved transparency and accountability in ESG and impact investing.

 

While more work is still needed to harmonize around global standards, regulators are signaling that there needs to be a bar for what is considered a credible ESG or impact strategy. Independent verification can help investors meet that bar by providing third-party assurance of investor claims and practices. From the threat of new regulations to the difficulties of complying with existing regulations, investors will continue to need a resource to help mitigate and address both reputational risks and legal liability.

 

About BlueMark

BlueMark, a Tideline company, provides independent impact verification services for investors and companies. With a mission to strengthen trust in impact investing, BlueMark’s services are designed to meet the need for reliable, third-party assurance of impact claims and practices. Learn more at www.BlueMarkTideline.com.

About Tideline

Tideline is a specialist consultant for the impact investing industry providing expert, tailored and actionable advice to clients developing impact investment strategies, products and solutions. Learn more at www.Tideline.com.

ANNOUNCEMENT – “BlueMark Launches First-of-its-Kind Benchmark for Best Practices in Impact Management”

ANNOUNCEMENT – “Sarah Gelfand Joins BlueMark As Managing Director”

As a founding Director of the Global Impact Investing Network, Gelfand is a leading expert on impact measurement and management standards

BlueMark, a leading provider of impact verification services for investors and companies, today announced the hiring of Sarah Gelfand as Managing Director. Gelfand will report to BlueMark CEO Christina Leijonhufvud and will co-lead BlueMark’s business strategy and team, business and product development efforts, and various market-building and standard-setting initiatives.

“Sarah is one of the impact investing market’s early pioneers, highly respected for her integrity and expertise in impact management and measurement, not to mention, equally well-liked and admired by her colleagues,” said Leijonhufvud. “Her experience building innovative platforms and managing multi-disciplinary teams makes her a perfect fit for BlueMark as we take this next step to bring impact verification to the global impact investing market.”

Gelfand was a founding Director at the Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN), where she led development of the industry’s leading system for measuring and managing impact “IRIS” (now IRIS+), growing the user base from five pilot investors to several thousand organizations across the industry.

More recently, as the Vice President of Social Impact Programs at Fidelity Charitable, Gelfand launched several new impact investing programs and led a grant-making initiative for the Board of Trustees. She also developed and ran a specialty business unit focused on providing philanthropic consulting services to clients.

“Over the past 12 years working in different parts of the impact investing market, I have consistently seen first-hand the need for independent verification to ensure the industry grows with integrity and credibility,” said Gelfand. “I share BlueMark’s vision of bringing increased transparency and accountability to the impact investing market and am eager to get to work in building the business and exploring new service areas.”

Before joining Fidelity Charitable, Gelfand was a Deputy Director at Duke University where she oversaw strategy and operations for an accelerator program that produced research and provided consulting services to a network of 50 nonprofit and for-profit healthcare-focused social enterprises.

Tideline, a specialist consultant for the impact investing industry, launched a separate independent impact verification business, BlueMark, in January 2020. BlueMark offers a range of impact verification services, helping evaluate the alignment of clients’ impact mandates, impact management practices, and impact reporting with industry standards like the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), Impact Management Project (IMP), IRIS+, Operating Principles for Impact Management (OPIM), UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and others.

Here is a link to the full announcement: https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/sarah-gelfand-joins-bluemark-as-managing-director-301210371.html.

About BlueMark
BlueMark provides independent impact verification services for investors and companies. With a mission to strengthen trust in impact investing, BlueMark’s services are designed to meet the need for reliable, third-party assurance of impact claims and practices. Learn more at www.BlueMarkTideline.com.

About Tideline
Tideline is a specialist consultant for the impact investing industry providing expert, tailored and actionable advice to clients developing impact investment strategies, products and solutions. Learn more at www.Tideline.com.

Media Contact
17 Communications
Dmitriy Ioselevich
[email protected]

ANNOUNCEMENT – “BlueMark Launches First-of-its-Kind Benchmark for Best Practices in Impact Management”

ANNOUNCEMENT – “Tideline Launches Impact Verification Business, “BlueMark,” to Strengthen Trust and Accountability in Impact Investing”

The Rockefeller Foundation and Radicle Impact have agreed to be founding investors in BlueMark

October 1, 2020 — Tideline, a specialist consultant for the impact investing industry, today announced the launch of BlueMark, an independent business providing impact verification services for investors and companies. BlueMark’s mission is “to strengthen trust in impact investing” through rigorous and independent assessments of an investor’s or company’s impact practices and performance, thereby building confidence and credibility in the impact label. The new business draws on Tideline’s deep expertise helping clients develop sophisticated impact investment strategies and practices, with third-party verification now emerging as the next critical piece of a best-in-class approach.

“Independent verification is essential for scaling the impact investing industry with integrity,” said Christina Leijonhufvud, a Managing Partner at Tideline who has transitioned to become CEO of BlueMark. “By introducing a reliable mechanism for establishing trust and accountability in the impact investment market, stakeholders can have greater confidence in impact claims and performance. Asset owners and institutional allocators especially benefit from the introduction of impact verification, which has the potential to dramatically simplify the impact screening and monitoring process and thereby mobilize greater capital flows toward positive societal impact.”

Impact verification came to the forefront in April 2019 with the introduction of the Operating Principles for Impact Management (“OPIM” or the “Impact Principles”), led by the International Finance Corporation (“IFC”) and now featuring a growing group of more than 100 signatories dedicated to “establishing a common discipline around the management of investments for impact.” One of these Principles—Principle 9—specifically requires signatories to publicly disclose and independently verify their alignment with the Principles on a regular basis.

Shortly after the launch of the Impact Principles, Tideline completed the first-ever published OPIM verification on behalf of LeapFrog Investments. To date, Tideline has completed 20 impact management system verifications, including nearly 40% of the verifications published to date by OPIM signatories. The aggregated results of the first 13 of these verifications were featured in Tideline’s April 2020 report, “Making the Mark,” that explored how impact investors are coalescing around best practices and addressing shared challenges. These results spotlighted what is now BlueMark’s signature impact management practice verification, and influenced the introduction of additional verification services that span impact mandate and impact reporting assessments as well.

The launch of BlueMark represents the formal separation of the verification business from Tideline’s consulting business, thereby establishing a dedicated team to provide independent impact verification services. BlueMark will also serve non-US clients out of a newly established London office.

The BlueMark team has designed proprietary methodologies for evaluating how each of the three key components of an investor’s impact management process—impact mandates, impact management practices, and impact reporting—are aligned with industry standards like OPIM, Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), Impact Management Project (IMP), the Global Impact Investing Network’s (GIIN) IRIS+, UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and others.

The Rockefeller Foundation and Radicle Impact intend to make catalytic investments into BlueMark to help seed the business and ensure the impact investing field has access to high-quality and independent verification services.

“Tideline has long been a pioneer in the impact investing space, and this new verification business represents the next frontier and a much-needed step in the evolution of this industry,” said Maria Kozloski, Senior Vice President of Innovative Finance at The Rockefeller Foundation. “We are proud to support the BlueMark team as they continue to advance best practices in impact investing.”

“Our goal at Radicle Impact is to provide investors with benchmark or better returns, deliver measurable social justice and environmental resilience impacts, and catalyze the migration of large amounts of mainstream capital to impact investing,” said Dan Skaff, Managing Partner at Radicle Impact. “In order to do so, we believe in the need for well-articulated impact goals, transparency and independent validation of results. The BlueMark team are proven leaders in data-based impact evaluation and measurement, and we’re excited to join their efforts to accelerate meaningful impact in the venture and private equity communities.”

As of this announcement, BlueMark’s verification clients include, among others: BlueOrchard Finance, Calvert Impact Capital, CDC Group, Closed Loop Partners, Community Investment Management (CIM), European Bank for Reconstruction Development (EBRD), KKR, LeapFrog Investments, LGT Venture Philanthropy, Nuveen, PG Impact Investments, PG LIFE, the Osiris Group, and UBS.

To learn more about impact verification, BlueMark will be hosting a launch event on Thursday, October 1 at 9 AM ET featuring Christina Leijonhufvud (CEO of BlueMark), Nick O’Donohoe (CEO of the CDC Group), Maria Kozloski (Senior Vice President of Innovative Finance at The Rockefeller Foundation), Dr. Andrew Kuper (Founder and CEO of LeapFrog Investments), and Roy Swan (Director of Mission Investments at the Ford Foundation). Please RSVP for the event at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/strengthening-trust-in-impact-investing-tickets-122240242857.

About BlueMark
BlueMark provides independent impact verification services for investors and companies. The services are designed to strengthen confidence in the achievement of stated impact goals through the verification of impact mandates, impact management practices, and impact reporting against established industry standards. Learn more at www.BlueMarkTideline.com.

About Tideline
Tideline is a specialist consultant for the impact investing industry providing expert, tailored and actionable advice to clients developing impact investment strategies, products and solutions. Learn more at www.Tideline.com.

Media Contact
17 Communications
Dmitriy Ioselevich
[email protected]