While speaking with the investment head of a family recently, the concept of blended investing came up in the conversation.
A theory put forward by Jed Emerson , blended investing is defined as:
a conceptual framework for advancing a vision of value creation which is not based upon a bifurcated understanding of the nature of value (either/or), but rather a unified, holistic understanding of value as “both/and,” integrated and non-divisible.
The discussion, centered around how the family could make socially responsible investments in firms and people, was interesting for me was the genesis of how the family was approaching their investments, and offered some valuable lessons to others who are looking to do the same. How what started off as philanthropic “investments” (i.e. donations) turned into increasingly working to build a portfolio that was investing in firms with strong social and environmental missions.
It was a genesis of awareness that occurred over several years, and one that took more than a few discussions on the exact nature and structure of investments. Investments that were initially divided into separate pools, but over time have ‘blended’. A transformation that begun as the family looked for a middle ground between philanthropic investments and their traditional investments, but continues to evolve as the family understands the issues of social and environmental sustainability and identify organizations (profit and non) who are solution providers.
It is a time intensive process, and one often slowed by the nature and structure of the organizations, but because the family sees the tangible imperative to making socially and environmentally responsible investments, this time still offers a positive ROI.
At a wider level though, and in a way similar to the sustainability movement, where the transformation of this families approach is significant is that it shows a level of maturity and understanding that can only come with time, awareness, and commitment.
For the family, it is a commitment to leaving a positive footprint legacy where hey are able to say that they have not only looked for ways to reduce their own impacts, but also make investments that have the ability to reverse the impacts of others. It will take a mix (or blended) approach to do so