New study about Finnish investors and impact investing – contradiction between good returns and impact is breaking
The discussion about impact investing continues with the new study of Aalto Fellows growth entrepreneurship program students from Aalto University and Aalto Ventures Program. The study investigated attitudes towards impact investing among Finnish venture capital and private equity investors. Impact investing defines as investments made to generate positive, measurable social and/or environmental impact alongside a financial return.
The new survey got answers from 31 venture capital and private equity investors regarding understanding and attitudes towards impact investing, challenges, and future possibilities. A similar study about impact investing was conducted in Finland already in 2017 by the Finnish Venture Capital Association (FVCA), Sitra, and Deloitte. On the other hand, research on European impact investment funds has also been conducted recently by FVCA and Annemari Kirppu. The new study is done in co-operation with FVCA, Sitra, Tesi, Inventure, Maki.vc, and Taaleri.
According to the new study, Finnish investors consider impact as an essential topic. Old beliefs that associate impact investing with philanthropy seem to start breaking. 87% of those surveyed felt that investing in impact does not mean compromising on returns. Furthermore, investors participating in the study see the future of impact investing bright.
“It is wonderful to see that in addition to sustainable investing, 58% of the respondents have already taken impact into account in the design of future funds. In 2017, the percentage was only 27%, which means very positive development, ”says Pia Santavirta, CEO of FVCA.
Mika Pyykkö, Sitra’s project manager, is also delighted with the development: “Growth in the impact investing market is essential for sustaining well-being and economic growth. Finland has a good opportunity to lead the way in this development. ”
However, there are only a few actual impact funds in Finland. Funds that make systematic use of impact investment strategies are also rare. The biggest challenges in implementing impact strategies are the measurement of impact, the lack of potential investment targets, and the lack of general knowledge.
“It is important for investors to recognise and promote the impact of companies’ products and activities on society and the environment. We still need concrete tools for creating impact and measuring results. We develop and pilot these in our operations and are happy to discuss experiences with other actors,” says Heli Kerminen from Tesi.
Finnish companies also play a crucial role in promoting the spread of impact investing. As a good example, The Upright Project is developing a neural network-based tool that seeks to explore the different overall impacts of businesses on the surrounding society.
Millennials are known to think more than previous generations of social and environmental impacts. As the baby boomers age, $ 30 trillion will move to the millennials over the next 30 years. This change will, for sure, also have an impact on the investment strategies of the funds.
“As millennials, we place great emphasis on investing in impact. We wanted to move the discussion with other Aalto Fellows people forward and provide data to support the development,” says Pauliina Meskanen and Pirkka Sippola, students of the 2019 Aalto Fellows Group.
The full study is available at Aalto Fellows website: www.aaltofellows.com/impact
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