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The World Of Social Finance – An Inside Scoop On Canada’s Leading Finance Forum

Thought leaders, innovators and future shapers gathered for the 11th Social Finance Forum, Where Profit Meets Purpose, and discussed what the future of Impact Investing looks like.

With over 600 participants and 115 speakers from all around the world, this year’s Social Finance Forum was a powerhouse packed with leading insights from the Canadian social finance community. Here are some key takeaways and insights from Social Finance Forum speakers that you’ll want to hold on to:

Mainstreaming.

According to 2017 research conducted by Morgan Stanley, 86% of millennials are interested in socially responsible investing. How do we democratize more investing products and make them within reach?

“The investment is an essential driver of change in this industry, the more products available, the more consumers are educated on how they can make a change.” Tiff Macklem, Dean of the Rotman School of Management

Risk vs Opportunity.

“We need to learn to be bilingual, that is understand both languages of impact and finance”, says Paul Lamontagne, Managing Director of FinDev Canada. Top-down focus on outputs needs to find an intersection with the bottom-up insights on expected outcomes. How do we make decisions while looking for the balance?

“Social entrepreneurship shouldn’t always be the answer, sometimes we need to make current establishments more accountable.” Daniel Overall, Executive Director of Trico Charitable Foundation

Transparency.

Having clear, measurable evidence on the positive social impact that the business may be making is of upmost importance to investors. Transparency through social funding using blockchain technology may be a solution.

“If you give clients transparency on impact, they will not go back.” Michael Baldinger Head of Impact Investing, UBS Asset Management.

More products.

The industry shows steady growth in mobilizing private capital for public good through alliances, policy advocacy and increasing number of social investing formats. For example, in 2016 MaRS launched Canada’s first health-related social impact bond, or “pay-for-success” model in Canada — and the largest of its kind in the world. The way it works is investors will fund the upfront costs of a new program run by the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada — and the Public Health Agency of Canada will pay them back if it works. Read more here.

“We are all here because we are social financiers. We want to see an impact with the money you’re investing.” Shannin Metatawabin, CEO of NACCA

More education.

Improved awareness is needed to raise the profile of social enterprises among government, public and investors. Other ideas revolved around: additional support with stringent due diligence / reporting requirements, better data exchange networks, and more crystal value propositions of all the players in the ecosystem.

“We’ve run out of time to sit on the fence. You have the power to change the world, so why not do it for good.” Jonathan Hera, Founder of Marigold Capital

Impact measurement.

Investors across the board—from asset managers and retail investors to foundations—want to understand the non-financial impact of their portfolios. Measuring that impact is about honing in on validated outcomes but are the metrics we have used so far reliable, specific and timely? Who does the measuring, who validates it, who pays for it? Could a standardized metric system be a solution? If we could share what we are measuring across sectors, this would help social finance and impact investing to grow.

“Thank you for believing in a social world where social and profit can go hand in hand.” Muska Ulhaq, Social Finance Forum Lead at MaRS Discovery District

If you’re interested in Impact Investing here are some great resources: 

The Second Bounce of the Ball – Turning Risk into Opportunity, by Ronald Cohen

Give Work: Reversing Poverty One Job at a Time, by Leila Janah

In the Business of Change: How Social Entrepreneurs are Disrupting Business as Usual, by Elisa Birnbaum

Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World, by Anand Giridharadas

The Purpose of Capital: Elements of Impact, Financial Flows, and Natural Being, by Jed Emerson

Triple bottom line, by John Elkington

The Invisible Heart (movie)

SEE Change Magazine

Social Innovation

@socialfinance

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