RiA Virtual Conference - June 3-10, 2022
Canadians can lead by example when it comes to investing sustainably, or incorporating environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors into investments - this was one of the calls to action at the June 3-10, 2022 RiA Virtual Conference, Canada’s largest responsible investment conference.
Two Canadian co-operatives speaking at the conference, Desjardins Investments and the Co-operators, shared how they are moving beyond sustainable investing with impact investing strategies with the intention to generate positive, measurable social and environmental impact alongside a financial return.
Desjardins, the wealth management and insurance co-operative with 7.5 million members, outlined its ethos has been to improve the life of community by putting contribution to positive outcomes at heart of its investment strategy. This ethos is driven by Desjardins members who, when asked their investment objectives, say the number one objective is to contribute to positive environmental and social outcomes.
Co-operators, the insurance and financial services co-operative with 5.2 million members, is purpose-built to enable financial security and has over 20% of its invested assets in impact investments, including ‘green bonds’, or bonds used to fund projects that have positive environmental and/or climate benefits. In 2020 when the market crashed - the green bonds had lower volatility and positive impact. Given the resilience of green bonds and other social impact investments, The Co-operators is now aiming for 50% of assets in impact investments by 2026.
Several speakers at the conference acknowledged that the next frontier for sustainable investing is impact investing, but noted the challenges, ranging from reliable data for measuring impact to the multitude of reporting guidelines and regulations, can be daunting. To overcome these challenges, investors will need to speak the same language and share impact investing stories that inspire and encourage a new wave of impact investors to get involved and align their dollars with their values.