FaithInvest conducted its fourth Investment Forum of the year in the Chicago-land area at the offices of Wespath in Glenview on September 14.
As at our other Forums, the focus of the day was on faith-consistent investing and impact investing for a gathering of delegates representing faith-based asset owning institutions, asset management firms, and partner organisations.
As stated during the opening remarks, the primary aim of FaithInvest is to help faith-based asset owners align their assets with their faith values, and the content from this Forum was designed to promote that mission.
Mathew Jensen, CFA, Director of Investment Solutions at FaithInvest, began the Forum with a session about a recent proprietary study that looks at the extent to which faith organisations manage their assets in a faith-consistent way. 'Our Good Intentions study found that many faith organisations can be doing much more to become fully or near-fully faith aligned in their portfolios,' said Jensen, 'and the Forum is an ideal venue for presenting the analytical tools we've produced to help groups assess their faith-alignment, using publicly available investment policy and guidelines statements.'
Three Impact sessions followed, hosted by Michael Even, Director of Strategy and Investment Research at FaithInvest. First, an innovative FCI-based early-stage VC fund idea with KingsCrowd CEO Chris Lustrino, followed by an update on Institutional Impact at Ascension Investment Management with Associate Director of Investments Tyler Blickhan, and a report on managing for Impact in the Public Markets, with Atlas Impact Founder Rob Brown. A lively 'point-counterpoint' debate on the merits and uses of private versus public markets for impact followed, with Rob Brown and delegate Michael Lustig, a veteran impact investor who last year published the Guide to Jewish Impact Investing, in conjunction with the Jewish Funders Network.
A key message from these sessions was expressed neatly by Tyler Blickhan, who stated, 'Impact is an approach, not an asset class.'
The day concluded with a panel entitled The Future of Investor Engagement, led by Wespath Sustainable Investment Stewardship Analyst Ryan McQueeney, who contributed to the research report that helped frame the discussion. Ryan was joined by Courtney Wicks, the Executive Director of Investor Advocates for Social Justice, and Rob Fohr, Director of Faith-based investing and corporate engagement for the Presbyterian Church USA. This panel explored engagement practices across multiple dimensions including sector/value chain, policy, and asset managers, with systemic change as the goal.
One delegate summed up the day this way: 'There were many interesting and useful topics covered, and it was a nice mix of attendees, approaches, and viewpoints.' Many delegates expressed interest in exploring ways to implement the FCI and impact approaches that were covered at the Forum, and FaithInvest stands ready to support these efforts with one-on-one consultation, proprietary research development, and ongoing collaboration.