• Confluence Scales Advisor Program to Accelerate Impact Investing

November 15 2017
November 15 2017

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This past July, Confluence Philanthropy launched a new membership model that will significantly expand our membership offering to investment managers, CDFI’s, and program related investing intermediaries. Our new Advisor Associate Program is the new entry point for professional money managers to join the Confluence community. A companion Advisor Affiliate membership level is an affordable way for non profit CDFI’s and individual consultants to bring their deep experience to our membership.

“We so often hear that there isn’t enough deal flow. Perhaps there aren’t enough managers that understand what real impact looks like or have the power within their own institutions to pursue it."

This new program was inspired by the realization that accelerating the field requires increased collaboration with Advisors. Through an extensive process of listening and reflection over the last year, our CEO, Dana Lanza, saw that one of the best ways to serve private families and philanthropies is by building more managers steeped in the practice of impact. “We so often hear that there isn’t enough deal flow. Perhaps there aren’t enough managers that understand what real impact looks like or have the power within their own institutions to pursue it. Perhaps there are gender and racial obstacles standing in the way of better, deeper impact in the financial services sector. A supportive peer-to-peer community can work to correct those barriers.”

Confluence set out in 2009 as small band of mid-sized philanthropies set on the idea that they could be more intentional investors. That group did not anticipate the participation of investment managers or anticipate their interest in joining. But in 2013, due to overwhelming interest from managers in the field, Confluence created Advisor Membership to accomodate firms with a deep commitment to impact.

This decision seems to paying off. In a membership assessment conducted in 2015, 83% of Advisors responding reported that their commitment to impact had grown as a result of being a member. Delilah Rothenberg of Pegasus Capital expressed this sentiment best: “We have found great value in the organization’s live events, webinars, and listserve, which are carefully curated to foster enriching dialogue and exchange of ideas. Some of our emerging impact goals have been inspired from our participation in this innovative, knowledgeable, and committed community.”

"As the impact investing industry grows, so does the risk of 'impact-washing'"

This positive feedback was the main imputus for expanding the program. However, we also realize that as the impact investing industry grows, so does the risk of ‘impact washing,' or disguising conventional investments in the lexicon and branding of impact. By opening up our membership to more investment advisors, asset managers and consultants, we hope to help ensure that they stay true to real impact, build best practices, and feel inspired to think deeply about how financing creates positive systemic change.

Since launching in July, we have deepened engagement with existing Advisor members and welcomed 12 new Advisors to the membership, representing almost $44 billion in assets under management. This diverse cohort includes RIAs, private equity funds, board consultants and a commercial bank, all with varying levels of experience and unique approaches to mission related investing.

Starting in 2018, Confluence will support Advisor members with several new discreet programs, including a one-day conference next spring and a new resource guide highlighting board consultants. We also plan to make our watershed guide, “Finding Your Way to the Right Impact Advisor,” more publicly available to draw attention to the services of our Advisors.

 

- Hannah Erickson is Confluence Philanthropy's Advisor Program Manager, supporting Confluence's new and existing advisor members through curated programming and ongoing outreach and referrals. Contact Hannah to learn more about Advisor membership.


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