Impact Investing and Social Entrepreneurship: A Way Forward
Tuesday, August 30, 2011
Recently, I interviewed Ron D. Cordes, Co-founder of the Cordes Foundation, which he and his wife Marty created in 2006. The primary focus of the Foundation is to utilize social entrepreneurship and impact investing as tools for global poverty alleviation. Ron has enjoyed a 25+ year career in the investment industry, having co-founded and then sold AssetMark Investment Services to Genworth Financial (NYSE:GNW) in 2006. He is currently Co-Chairman of Genworth Financial Wealth Management, which is responsible for over $22 billion of assets under management.
Rahim Kanani: Describe a little bit about the founding and motivation behind ImpactAssets.
Ron Cordes: My motivation behind the founding of ImpactAssets came out of my personal experiences as an impact investor in our family foundation portfolio. Over the past four years we’ve been active impact investors, and while we’ve now assembled a portfolio of over a dozen investments, it’s been a difficult process to locate investment managers and funds focused on impact and evaluate them with respect to their ability to actually deliver that impact. What became clear to me is that if we’re really going to catalyze meaningful capital, we have to create tools, vehicles and products to better connect investors with impact investment opportunities – – in addition to engaging the wealth management community who act as the “gatekeepers” for much of this capital. We were fortunate to find a great partner who shared this vision in the Calvert Foundation, and receive great early support from the Rockefeller Foundation and others to get the initiative off the ground.
Rahim Kanani: As co-chairman of Genworth Financial Wealth Management, how did you become interested in impact investing?
Ron Cordes: When I sold my business to Genworth in 2006, my wife and I created our family foundation – and began to focus on how we could use our investment portfolio, via this newly emerging field of impact investing, to leverage the impact of our grants portfolio in addressing issues around global poverty. As I built our impact portfolio, I began to fully appreciate the ability to create “double bottom line” returns – particularly in 2008 when several of our microfinance investments were among the top performers in our portfolio. I also had the opportunity to speak with dozens of the wealth managers we work with at Genworth, and found that they had an emerging interest within their client bases to do the same thing we were doing – but lacked any tools or infrastructure to actually build and implement impact portfolios.