I regularly speak to investors from a traditional investment background seeking the transition into a more impactful investment fund. A question that I am often asked is “what can I do to further my knowledge of impact?” and while there are a number of great courses and networking events that I recommend, often the quickest and easiest way is to block out some time and pick up a good book. I’ve listed some of my favourite - and impactful - reads below.
Impact: Reshaping capitalism to drive real change, Sir Ronald Cohen
Sir Ronald Cohen, the founder of British Private Equity and Venture Capital group Apax Partners, and impact investment firm Bridges Fund Management, provides a great account of why firms need to consider the impact they create on a parity with risk and financial returns. Cohen also gives one of the best overviews of social impact bonds. If you’re just starting to read about impact investment I suggest starting here.
Grow the Pie, Alex Edmans
Alex Edmans, Professor of Finance at London Business School, gives an incredibly well researched and evidenced overview of how both business leaders and investors can benefit all stakeholders and shareholders of a business by focusing on their long-term purpose, over short-term profit maximisation. Grow the Pie makes some points that I am sure you won’t be anticipating, such as why many of the symptoms of capitalist excess and greed, like share buybacks and CEO pay, should not be in crosshairs of responsible investors and those looking to create change.
Sustainable Investing in Practice: ESG Challenges and Opportunities, Simon Smiles and James Purcell
James Purcell, Group Head of Sustainable Frameworks at Credit Suisse and Simon Smiles, former Managing Director and CIO of UHNW at UBS (before sadly passing away in 2022), have written the go-to handbook for investors seeking to integrate sustainability factors into their investment processes, and those seeking a better understanding of how their money is put to use. Purcell and Smiles give a clear and honest overview of the state of sustainable investment across asset classes today and their suggestions for the required changes to further the positive impact on environment and society.
Accountable: How We Can Save Capitalism, Warren Valdmanis and Michael O’Leary
Warren Valdmanis, Partner at Two Sigma Impact and Michael O’Leary, Partner and Co-Head of L Catterton Impact offer insight into how firms need to revisit their purpose for existence going beyond purely maximising financial returns. The pair help redefine fiduciary duty by providing a wide range of case studies of firms having a positive impact and delivering financial returns. I like this book due to the range of real-world examples provided, instead of being bogged down by data and technical jargon.
Please let me know any recommendations for those that I have missed, I’m always on the lookout for my next book!
George is a specialist headhunter focused on the sustainable and impact investment market. If you are a sustainable or impact investor (or would like to be!) please reach out to George for a conversation on the trends and opportunities he is seeing in the market.