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Peter Murphy discusses whether impact investing could be an opportunity for Christians to winsomely engage and lead the wider community to investments that are transforming society and redeeming our world.
The purpose of investing is commonly regarded as making as much money as possible. Ethical investment has been regarded as investing whilst avoiding harm. The seemingly new form of investing is the impact investing movement, which seeks to invest and make a positive social difference. However, the question is whether Christians have been impact investing for centuries and possibly millennia.
In their 2017 Annual Investment Report, PGGM, the $220 billion Dutch-based pension fund, reported somewhat provocatively that they are convinced that “financial returns and social returns go hand in hand.” This was a well-meaning attempt by an investment giant to suggest that a new breed of investing with a social conscience has emerged. Indeed, as the Global Impact Investing Network’s (GIIN) 2018 annual survey proudly asserts, there are now 229 asset owners and managers with a total of $228 billion in impact investment assets. Regarded by the investment community as an emerging asset, this seemingly fledgling sector has grown at a staggering pace as it seeks to shift capital from the broader financial markets to investments that are seeking a return and social good.
However, in the eagerness to create a new movement, it appears there is a lack of recognition of what has gone before, particularly from a Christian perspective.
Historically, the church, in continuity with its background in Judaism, has called for transformative compassion and wise stewardship. This has resulted in capital being invested away from areas where the only concern is for maximum financial gain to enterprises where financial returns and social returns are held in tension. This lengthy heritage has frequently been overlooked, however, in recent conversations around impact investing.
This paper will consider how the interest in impact investing may be an opportunity for Christians to winsomely engage and lead the wider community to investments that are transforming society and redeeming our world.
Full Title : Impact Investment: A New Breed or an Old Way?
Peter Murphy has sought to integrate faith and finances for over twenty years. He specialises in not-for-profits, education, aged care and superannuation. A former CEO of a superannuation fund, he currently holds chair and directorship roles in a range of organisations across the Christian and secular community. He is also a partner of Robertson and Chang, a management consulting firm. Peter is a fellow of the Society of CPA’s and of ASFA, and a graduate of the AICD. He has postgraduate qualifications in Christian Studies and Commerce and is undertaking further studies in impact investing at UNSW.
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