Smarter Impact

Michele Giddens - Bridges Fund Management - Investing in the future: the future of investing

June 22, 2020 Michele Giddens Season 1 Episode 57
Smarter Impact
Michele Giddens - Bridges Fund Management - Investing in the future: the future of investing
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Smarter Impact
Michele Giddens - Bridges Fund Management - Investing in the future: the future of investing
Jun 22, 2020 Season 1 Episode 57
Michele Giddens

Join for me an indepth discussion with Michele Giddens, co-founder of https://www.bridgesfundmanagement.com

If you enjoyed this content, please give it a like, leave a comment, subscribe for more and share the video - it really means a lot to see your support coming in :)

Smarter Impact is hosted by http://linkedin.com/in/philipbateman and produced by http://bravocharlie.global

Bravo Charlie specialise in targeted video communication for impact investors and their portfolios, using marketing, business development, investing and production skills to engage stakeholders and amplify returns.

At the apex of social change, we exist as the possibility of world leaders in business, politics and society being engaging, powerful communicators, and work to accelerate the transition of our world into a more environmentally aware, sustainable and loving place.

Our best work is done with companies at a tipping point, with strong offerings, ready to launch into the next stage of their greatness.  The outcomes of our effort are a more harmonious society, empowering people with the resources and capabilities to lead good lives.

We specialise in:

- Documenting your Impact Measurement and Management
- Making complex businesses and technologies simple to understand
- Coaching senior executives to deliver at their best on camera
- Creating compelling pitches and content, to support Seed/series funding and IPOs
- Crafting digital marketing systems, engagement and growth strategies
- Capturing the passion of your team and clients

Support the show (https://www.patreon.com/SmarterImpact)

Show Notes Transcript

Join for me an indepth discussion with Michele Giddens, co-founder of https://www.bridgesfundmanagement.com

If you enjoyed this content, please give it a like, leave a comment, subscribe for more and share the video - it really means a lot to see your support coming in :)

Smarter Impact is hosted by http://linkedin.com/in/philipbateman and produced by http://bravocharlie.global

Bravo Charlie specialise in targeted video communication for impact investors and their portfolios, using marketing, business development, investing and production skills to engage stakeholders and amplify returns.

At the apex of social change, we exist as the possibility of world leaders in business, politics and society being engaging, powerful communicators, and work to accelerate the transition of our world into a more environmentally aware, sustainable and loving place.

Our best work is done with companies at a tipping point, with strong offerings, ready to launch into the next stage of their greatness.  The outcomes of our effort are a more harmonious society, empowering people with the resources and capabilities to lead good lives.

We specialise in:

- Documenting your Impact Measurement and Management
- Making complex businesses and technologies simple to understand
- Coaching senior executives to deliver at their best on camera
- Creating compelling pitches and content, to support Seed/series funding and IPOs
- Crafting digital marketing systems, engagement and growth strategies
- Capturing the passion of your team and clients

Support the show (https://www.patreon.com/SmarterImpact)

- Philip Bateman Brave Charlie here at the Asia Pacific Impact Investment Summit and I'm here with Michele Giddens from Bridges Fund Management. And Michele, you were introduced earlier by Rosemary Addis as a guiding light in the industry, and one of the things you started out by saying was, "It's not time to think too much. It's a time we must do. That there is a huge heavy lifting in front of us." Could you touch on that for me?

- Yes. I have been at this a lot longer than I would like to admit. Bridges was founded seventeen years ago, and what we really believe is that we all need to invest in the transition to a more sustainable and a more inclusive economy. It's as big as that. And as Bridges, we manage other people's money and we choose where to invest it. And so we have the privilege to be able to make choices to invest in circular economy businesses, to invest in environmental energy, to invest in social impact bonds that can help to take teenagers into better education results, and rough sleepers out of homelessness. But really what this conference is about and what I am taking away with me is that it doesn't really matter where the money is, or what your own personal powers are, all of us need to just reframe our decision making about how we spend, how we save, where we invest, where we work, what we do around work, and to think about how we can all contribute to this transition to what we must have, which is a more inclusive economy and a more environmentally sustainable economy. We were reflecting today on the global sustainable development goals of the United Nations and the fact that we have til 2030 to meet those goals, and how short of a time that is. So there is a sense, I think, here that whatever we were all doing, we need to come away from this conference and do more and do it urgently.

- Quoting you earlier you said, "Investing in the future is the future of investing." Sounds like it's not about the future, it's about now, really.

- Well the action we have to take now in order to have a future. I think we have in some senses.. I think we have in some senses.. When we started Bridges, we started with the idea that we could make investments that could solve social and environmental challenges. Now, seventeen years later, we think instead about the need to reform the economy around us, and to do it urgently. And I have forgotten your question entirely.

- Oh, that's okay.

- What was your question?

- Well the session you were in was "Are We There Yet?" And I was going to ask you, what would it look like if we were there?

- The question was, "Are we there yet?" And we are so decidedly not there, but what might be some of the things that we might see if we had made this transition into a more sustainable and more inclusive economy? Well, let's talk about inclusive economy. An inclusive economy in part means that we would start to combat this rising disparity between wealth and poverty. But it also means.. We would make investments, like the one I was talking about, that are helping rough sleepers to get off the streets in the UK, or an investment that we have just been involved with through our foundation which is a development impact bond to help graduate people in Africa out of poverty. So those kind of investments are part of an inclusive economy. But the other part of it would be that we had transparency; all of us that have pension funds, that have bank accounts, that we would able to say, "I know that my money is invested. I know where it is invested, and I believe that it is invested in line with my values" Because as we speak now, actually none of those things are true. Most people who have a pension may not even really fully know that it's invested. They certainly don't know what it's invested in. And when you start to tell them what it's invested in, they get very upset about some of the things that it's invested in whether it be guns companies, or whether it be coal fired power stations. "Being there" would mean that there are a whole range of different investment possibilities that have positive impact on people and planet, but it would also mean that there was transparency and that people were empowered to have some control over getting investments that were in line with their values.

- And what comes up for me, hearing you say that is also the side that it maybe one thing to look at the institutional pension funds and say, "You need to be investing in great stuff. we want to know what you're investing in. Make it happen." But then from a deal perspective as well, these people simply can't move a billion dollars into early stage, high risk ventures. What would your call be out there to people who are thinking about starting something or getting something happening or seeing a need and fixing it?

- Do you mean those that might be managing institutional capital like the pension funds, or the individuals whose pension fund it is? Because I have a call for both of them. Which one would you like?

- I was going to say for the third operator, the person who is actually starting a business that needs investment. Please! Let's go through all three.

- Well, I would first like, I suppose, to speak to those who manage pension funds, and to say that there are two things that they absolutely can do right now. One of them is to look at each of their asset classes and ask themselves the question, are they investing enough in the future of the pensioners for whom they are investing? So you could take real assets, for example if you are a pension fund, especially an Australian one, you'll have a lot of investments in infrastructure and real assets. To what extent are they in sustainable forestry, in environmental energy, and those which we know are the industries of the future? So taking a look at the kinds of investments that they're already making, and not doing what the old system of ESG has been which is sort of identifying risks and looking to reduce risk. But rather, making sure that they are investing in enough of the opportunities of this transition. I am talking to you about a more sustainable economy. But then I would also say the argument that the kinds of things very impactful, are very small and therefore pension funds can't allocate to them is to some extent true. Not entirely true, but to some extent true. So what can they do about that? Well, create an allocation which is for proactive impact investing. I may not start really large, but just be willing, then, to make investments in slightly smaller, but new pioneering things which are leaning out into solving these challenges and being more inclusive and more sustainable businesses. And then let that allocation grow overtime as the whole impact economy grows. So it is that combination of looking at what they already do and leaning it into a more sustainable and inclusive future and then creating an allocation, even if it's small, that's going to do some of the small and the pioneering stuff. And that's where we will get for your small scale, maybe Tech for Good entrepreneur, they then may be able to find a Tech for Good impact venture fund that in turn raises its capital from that allocation that has been made by hopefully many of those pension funds.

- Great. And that leaves us with the pensioner that you were going to have a message for. What would that be?

- For the pensioner I think there's a great opportunity to have a power that you didn't know about. You know that you pay taxes, and you hope that the government does some good things with those taxes. You probably make philanthropic donations to try to do something good, but you may not have realised that by writing and asking your pension fund manager to what extent they are investing in having a more sustainable and inclusive future for you, that you have the power to change where money goes. At scale in the world, if we all were to do that, we would transform the economy.

- You were talking about three things people can manage and ought to be. Sorry, three things that people who manage capital ought to be doing.

- That right. Two of the three we've talked about. So one is take your existing asset classes and look to see if you are looking to the future enough, and making investments that you could be making in a positive future. The second is to pioneer. That is where you want your smaller allocation where you can invest in more pioneering. And then the third.. I would say all three apply to everybody in the way they live their lives. The third is to share experiences and doing that widely. And to, in a way, evangelise for what you learn so that others can take that journey. So in my own firm, Bridges, the way that we did that was by creating a nonprofit, almost a think tank, called Bridges Insights. And we have shared through that what we've learned about social impact bonds investing, what we've learned about how to measure impact and to manage impact. All that has turned into this really huge project that we never really thought would get so huge which is trying to create global standards for impact measurement and impact management. My three are take what you're already doing, and make it more future positive. Do new stuff that you haven't done before for people and the planet. And then three evangelise, and share your learnings, and tell people about what you are doing so that others will follow.

- Wonderful.

- If there's one thing you wanted people in the world to know about Bridges Fund Management, what would you tell them?

- I would tell them that the single most important thing that we've been a part of is breaking down the idea that if you want to do good, use philanthropy. And if you want to make money, forget about doing good. At the heart of Bridges has always been the goal to invest in things that would make attractive financial returns and have positive impact on business and society. And I hope that through the practice of doing that.. So we have raised about approaching at 1.5 billion dollars, all of which is dedicated to that goal so far. I hope that in the practice of that then our sharing our experience in doing that we have played a part in creating a whole spectrum of opportunity to do good and make financial return that sits between those old polar ends of philanthropy that sits between those old polar ends of philanthropy and pure financial investment.

- And if there is one thing you wanted people in the world to know about their ability to create change, what would you tell them?

- I would tell them to...

- I would tell them to... We don't always all look around to see the ways in which we are powerful. And I would tell them to put aside all those feelings of self-doubt and that sense that, "Look, I'm not the person that can solve the climate crisis, I'm not the person that can change inequality in our society." Just put those all aside and start from a different premise which is, "If I don't, it's not like there's some other person out there that's going to do it all." All of us, all of us need to decide what our superpower is in terms of achieving change and absolutely every single one of us has one. And so I would tell them all to try to not let And so I would tell them all to try to not let the fact that you can't solve it on your own stop you from doing something on your own or with others to make positive change. And even if you start with a small step, you'd be amazed quite often how far that goes. And if I may, an image of that which I really love is an image I saw online of Greta Thunburg sitting on her own outside, I think, one of the government buildings protesting on a Friday, and then literally just one year later, a crowd of something like a million, I think in Melbourne, all gathering, all kids gathering on the climate strike. Now when Greta made her decision to sit outside the school, she probably.. Well, she would have never imagined that within one year she might have that effect. And she decided to do that one thing. And she decided to do that one thing. And I think that if ever any of us doubt what one individual can do, they just need to look at those two photographs.

- Thank you so much for being here on the breezy and kind of cold waterfront in Sydney. And thank you so much for all your work.

- Thank you.