The women-led investment teams banking on social returns

Financial Times
By Amy Bell
September 19, 2018

As one of the first investors in Tes­la Motors and NEX­Track­er, which was sold to elec­tron­ics sup­pli­er Flex­tron­ics in 2015, Nan­cy Pfund has a record of spot­ting a promis­ing trend. But when in ear­ly 2000 she saw the poten­tial for invest­ing in com­pa­nies that com­bine finan­cial returns with a pos­i­tive social impact, the investors she was try­ing to con­vince were not so sure. “We were pio­neers,” says Ms Pfund, now man­ag­ing part­ner of ven­ture cap­i­tal firm DBL Part­ners. “The typ­i­cal reac­tion to our pitch was a neg­a­tive one, we got a lot of doors slammed in our face,” she says. “Peo­ple thought that by intro­duc­ing some­thing oth­er than an eco­nom­ic dri­ver into your invest­ment deci­sions you would lose mon­ey.” Today, demand for invest­ments that incor­po­rate envi­ron­men­tal, social and gov­er­nance stan­dards, or impact invest­ing, has grown sub­stan­tial­ly. In a recent study, Mor­gan Stan­ley com­pared the inter­est shown in sus­tain­able invest­ing by male and female clients.

In 2017, 84 per cent of the women expressed inter­est, up from 78 per cent in 2015; for men the fig­ure was 67 per cent, up from 62 per cent.

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