Cornerstone Capital Group Founder and CEO Erika Karp addresses the state of impact investing, offering a clear distinction between impact investing, ESG analysis, and sustainability. No matter what labels are used, someday this will all simply be called “investing.” Note: This video originally appeared on cornerstonecapitalfunds.com.
On May 20, we hosted a video webinar with Cornerstone’s Katherine Pease and Craig Metrick, who provided an overview of our new impact measurement framework, the Access Impact Framework. Katherine and Craig provided background on why Cornerstone created the framework, our rationale for basing our framework on the UN Sustainable Development Goals, and described our methodology.
Cornerstone CEO Erika Karp discusses the current state of capitalism at Fluidity Summit, kicking off Blockchain week in NYC.
Citizen activists are taking to the streets to demand government accountability and action on issues they care about passionately, with groups ranging from #metoo to #neveragain, Black Lives Matter, and the alt-right. Against this backdrop, some of the largest shareholders in the world are now joining long-time shareholder advocates to call for improved corporate governance, equality and environmental stewardship. How will this heightened partisanship and conflict affect relations between companies and shareholders?
Cornerstone Capital Group recently convened our panel of corporate governance experts for a live webinar on hot topics in corporate accountability, sustainability and shareholder engagement. Our Head of Research and Corporate Governance, John Wilson, moderated a discussion with Catherine Jackson of Jackson Principled Governance, independent board director Karina Litvack, and Tim Smith, Head of ESG Shareholder Engagement at Walden Asset Management. Below are the key questions addressed, with video replays of each discussion.
How are shareholders helping to reshape the conversation around gender equality in the boardroom and the workplace?
How are climate competencies becoming a matter of corporate governance?
Some of the largest asset managers in the world have made a new commitment to advocacy on issues such as firearms and climate change—How does their participation change the conversation?
How is the changed political landscape in the U.S. and Europe influencing the conversation around corporate political activities?
Conscious Thought Revolution is on a mission to build technology that measures global levels of human consciousness by observing patterns of internet traffic. CTR reporter Kayleigh Donahue conducts a video “#consciousconversation” with Erika Karp.
Joy Anderson is the founder and president of Criterion Institute. Criterion is a leading think tank focused on using finance as a tool for social change. Criterion played a significant role in creating and building the field of gender lens investing and continues to shape how gender matters in the analyses, structures, and processes of investment and finance.
The discussion centered on the following questions:
- What is changing in the field around gender-based violence?
- How can we embrace this moment to facilitate change?
- What data is available, and what data and disclosures do we need going forward?
- What are the key questions that investors can start asking today?
- What can investors do to support the effort to address gender-based violence in companies and society?
It was evident that society’s awareness of gender-based violence and the impact of gender issues more broadly is evolving. Teresa referred to the “spiral process” of understanding the challenges and potential solutions—i.e., we learn more about a subject each time the topic is encountered, expanding our knowledge and our ability to tackle this difficult issue.
Cornerstone Capital CEO Erika Karp and Research Analyst Sebastian Vanderzeil talk about the firm’s approach to ESG analysis and conscious investing with Pedram Shojai of well.org.
In the view of blockchain proponents, one of the technology’s major advantages is that it doesn’t require trust at the point of transaction, leading to a radical shift in the power of intermediaries. However, there is a question outstanding about how the need for trust can be changed and whether blockchain technology reduces the need for trust or shifts the burden of trust. We recently published a piece exploring the issue of trust.
Following on from our report, Cornerstone’s Sebastian Vanderzeil hosted a conversation with Michael Oved, co-founder of AirSwap and former partner at Virtu Financial, who is “passionate about a future where people fearlessly trade digital value without third-party intervention.” The discussion and Q&A session touched on a range of topics including:
- How does blockchain interact and change the need for trust?
- How are financial intermediaries likely to be impacted by the development of a decentralized, “trustless” network supported by blockchain?
- What risks are present in a removal or shift in trust?
Cornerstone Capital recently hosted water expert Will Sarni for a conversation about “The Data-Driven Future of Water.” Sebastian Vanderzeil, Director and Global Thematic Analyst, interviewed Will, covering questions such as:
- How has the “waterscape” changed over the past ten years?
- How should investors think about the myriad of opportunities and issues surrounding water, from utilities to software, water rights to water infrastructure development?
- How will data shape the future of water resource management?
- What can investors do to address the challenge of meeting our water resource needs?
Will Sarni has been providing consulting services to private and public-sector enterprises for his entire career, with a focus on developing and implementing corporate-wide sustainability and water strategies. He has worked with companies across a range of industry sectors in evaluating the technical viability and market potential of innovative water technologies, market entry strategies and supporting M&A programs.
Sebastian Vanderzeil is a Director and Global Thematic Analyst with Cornerstone Capital Group. Sebastian’s research spans a range of themes including climate, energy, income inequality, automation and technology. Previously, Sebastian was an economic consultant with global technical services group AECOM, where he advised on the development and finance of major infrastructure across Asia and Australia. Sebastian holds an MBA and was a Dean’s Scholar at NYU’s Stern School of Business.
A panel discussion at “Blockchain and the New Global Economy” with Michael Oved of AirSwap, Sam Tabar, and Matthew Bishop.
On June 23 Cornerstone hosted Jalak Jobanputra for a discussion on the blockchain’s transformative potential. Jalak is the Founding Partner of Future\Perfect Ventures, an early-stage venture capital fund focused on next-generation technology such as blockchain and machine learning. She was an early investor in the space, and is widely considered to be an expert.
Cornerstone’s Sebastian Vanderzeil, Director and Thematic Analyst at Cornerstone, led the session. In addition to recent developments in the space, Jalak and Sebastian discussed a number of ways emergent applications for blockchain technology could address social challenges, particularly in less developed regions. The two also addressed issues of governance and accountability, following on from Sebastian’s recent report Governance and the Ungovernable: Implications of Blockchain Proliferation.
Earlier this month held a webinar, “Our Take on the Markets.” Cornerstone’s Chief Investment Officer, Phil Kirshman, was joined by Equity Strategist Michael Geraghty, Director of Manager Due Diligence Jennifer Leonard, and special guest Geeta Aiyer, President and Founder of Boston Common, to share their insights on these questions:
- What’s the outlook for US/international equities over the next 12 months?
- Will the predominant factor determining the direction of stock prices be the P/E multiple or earnings growth?
- Will the “Trump Trade” unwind?
- What are key risks for the equity market?
- What are we telling our clients about asset allocation?
On February 21 Cornerstone Capital Group Research published “The Art of the Possible: Investing to Address Income Inequality,” in which authors John Wilson, Craig Metrick and Sebastian Vanderzeil provided perspective on the factors fueling increasing disparities in both income and opportunity. The report identifies investment opportunities that offer competitive financial returns while helping to address concerns about increasing levels of inequality and income stagnation.
In late April Cornerstone hosted a live streaming panel discussion on the topic, inviting Brian Trelstad, Partner at Bridges Fund Management, and Beth Bafford of Calvert Foundation’s investment management team, to discuss the topic in more detail.
Cornerstone Capital Group recently hosted a live video webinar on the intersection of Islamic finance and social responsibility. John Wilson, Cornerstone’s Head of Corporate Governance, Engagement and Research, interviewed Umar Moghul, an expert on the topic and author of the recently published book, A Socially Responsible Islamic Finance: Character and the Common Good.
Among the topics explored:
- How do Islamic values and traditions shape one’s approach to impact investing?
- What are the key needs being filled today by Islamic finance principles? What needs are left unaddressed?
- What are the common themes or objectives shared between Islamic finance and more traditional sustainable investing?
- What can each of them learn from the other?
- How is Islamic finance changing relative to previous generations?
This session brings together a group of leading chief executive officers who will discuss their experiences of diversity and inclusion. What role does the chief executive officer play in influencing the board? What obstacles can get in the way of progress and how can they be overcome? How do CEOs view and encourage activation and engagement within their organisations? How can reverse mentoring help CEOs and senior leadership teams to gain a better understanding of the issues?
Speakers: Peter Arvai, chief executive, Prezi
Erika Karp, founder and chief executive, Cornerstone Capital Inc.
Mike Pedersen, group head, U.S. Banking, TD Bank Group; president and chief executive, TD Bank
Moderator: Tom Standage, Deputy editor, The Economist
On March 1 Cornerstone hosted the first of in a new series of Access & Insight events, a webinar titled “Climate Investing in 2017: What Can Investors Do Now?” Our Sebastian Vanderzeil and Craig Metrick were joined by William Page, portfolio manager at Essex Investment Management, for a discussion centering on:
- Climate realities and responses
- The transition to clean power
- Infrastructure and environmental investing
- Different approaches and asset classes available for tacking the issues
Cornerstone Capital Investment Advisory (CCIA) Chief Investment Officer Phil Kirshman lent his insights into investment performance, and CCIA Managing Director Jan Morgan fielded questions from attendees.
The genesis of the webinar was a recent Cornerstone research report, “Climate Investing in 2017,” also authored by Sebastian and Craig. The report addresses the imperative for an effective response to climate change following the hottest year on record. The team writes, “Climate investing faces risks in 2017, particularly from the incoming US administration, but nuanced opportunities exist for positive environmental and social impact coupled with attractive potential returns.”
From The Economist conference “Impact Investing: Mainstreaming Purpose-Driven Finance.”
You can’t manage what you don’t measure, as the adage goes. Big advances are being made in measuring social impact and environmental sustainability thanks to the efforts of organisations such as the Sustainable Accounting Standards Board and Global Impact Investment Network. But what remains to be done? Are the right things being measured? What reporting and auditing rules are needed to create confidence in claims about achieving impact and sustainability? What do we already know about the impact of current investment choices?
Dan Hanson, partner, Jarislowsky Fraser Global Investment Management and founding member, SASB Board
Jessica Matthews, managing director and head of mission-related investing practice, Cambridge Associates
Matthew Weatherley-White, managing director, The CAPROCK Group
Erika Karp, founder and chief executive, Cornerstone Capital Inc
Moderator: Matthew Bishop, senior editor, The Economist Group
One of the most encouraging global trends is the growing economic role of women. Two leading women investors and one asset owner discussed how to invest in and accelerate this trend. Do companies that empower women perform better? Should investors demand more women on boards?
Erika Karp Founder and chief executive, Cornerstone Capital Inc.
Ron D. Cordes Co-founder, Cordes Foundation
Jackie VanderBrug, managing director and investment strategist, U.S. Trust Moderator: Andrew Palmer, business affairs editor, The Economist
On December 15 Cornerstone Capital Group hosted a discussion with Avi Deutsch, co-founder of LAVAN, a global community bringing together Jewish values and the power of business to repair the world. The session was moderated by John Wilson, Cornerstone’s Head of Corporate Governance, Engagement and Research, whose career includes time as Director of Socially Responsible Investing for Christian Brothers Investment Services, an investment advisor to Catholic Institutions, as well as service as Vice-Chair of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility.
In this interview, Avi discusses his goal in founding LAVAN and the principles of Judaism that inform his approach to investing. John and Avi also discuss some of the similarities in approach across different faiths.
Held in observance of International Women’s Day, the 2016 WEPs Annual Event, Business Partners for Gender Equality: Multipliers for Development, brought together inspirational business leaders, including innovative female entrepreneurs, with civil society, the UN and Government, to scale-up business action and unleash the full potential of women and girls. Through high-level panels and interactive sessions, participants dove into how diverse companies around the world are implementing the Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs) and helping to achieve the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), set forth in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Day 2 was held at the Wyndham New Yorker Hotel. Joseph Keefe, President and Chief Executive Officer, Pax World Funds, introduces women leading business today. Erika Karp, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Cornerstone Capital Inc., shares her story.