Community Development Innovation Review

December 2010

Social Metrics in Investing: The Future Depends on Financial Outperformance and Leadership


In order to truly unlock the potential of the impact investing industry, social/environmental metrics must be directly connected to financial outperformance. When above-market rate—or premium—financial returns are present, large fiduciaries such as public pension plans (who globally hold a total of $23 trillion in assets), are able to invest and the impact investing market will move beyond its current niche. Products and services that present solutions to the increasing constraints on natural resources and unmet basic human needs will be a major driving force for our economy. While there will be numerous investment opportunities that claim both premium financial returns and social/environmental benefit, non-financial metrics will enable us to distinguish the “pretenders” from the “real deal.”