The Weekender features a longer form publication or multimedia production from a reputable source. We select articles or things to watch or listen to that discuss issues and opportunities we deem just off the radar for many business people, students, and faculty. We aim to expand the mind, broaden the heart, and sharpen the analysis. Have a great weekend.
Actuary and author Nick Silver, author of Finance, Society and Sustainability says that finance at its core is a “social technology which allocates economic surplus back into the economy.” And it provides many important services:
managing the payment system
allowing people to manage risk
enables people to smooth lifetime consumption
it allocates savings to useful investment.
So finance was making an impact, long before impact investing. It is woven into daily life from debit card payments to Venmo to small business loans. Finance is always changing and quickly. The growth of financial technology vehicles ("fintech" for those in the inner circle) has been staggering. Our MBA Sustainability Case Competition this year is focused on fintech so I have been trying to catch up. This piece from Fast Company provides a great overview of the evolving space with a ton of links to examples.
There are financial management tools like Mint and YNAB; robo-advisors like Betterment and Stash plus robo-impact advisors like Aspiration and OpenInvest; sustainable investment funds for impact themes like solar (Wunder Capital) and women’s empowerment (Ellevest); and there are investment firms specializing in impact like Community Capital Management and Calvert. Even large incumbents like BlackRock and Goldman Sachs are creating impact investing funds.