The Great Wealth Transfer is Coming


Members of the next generation share their thoughts on how to invest with values.

With estimates that as much as $57 trillion of wealth will be transferred to the next generations over the coming decades, many are anticipating that the impact investing field will explode as many younger people seek to invest according to their values. Many of these wealth-holders are already guiding investment decisions personally or for their family foundations, and wealth advisors are seeing a rise in demand for values-aligned investment opportunities. Big Path Capital sat down with members of Generation X and the Millennial generation to understand what challenges they are running into when it comes to impact investing, and what is driving their investment decisions.


Jason IngleJason commits equal focus to investing and philanthropy with the common goal of improving the food system and the health of people and planet. He is the co-founder of Closed Loop Capital, a venture capital platform investing in exceptional entrepreneurs leading ventures in agriculture technology and food system innovation. Jason also co-founded Greener Partners, a not-for-profit organization with a mission of connecting communities to healthy food, vibrant farms, and hands-on education experiences.

What advice would you give to Millennials who are in a position of influence within their families or organizations around investment-making decisions for impact and return?

JI: Impact investing is like anything else that is new or a bit unknown in that it is important to get some “early wins” that will support this new idea and approach to investing to gain the trust of the older generation and family advisors.

I would say start small; size investments cautiously. Stay liquid; avoid direct, early-stage investments that will be locked up and have a long lead time to generate positive results. Learn from others; invest through fund managers to gain sector-level knowledge on themes you are passionate about before doing direct investments. And collaborate with others; share your experiences and learn from peers and their experiences.

Does the Millennial generation think about risk and reward differently in terms of impact investing?

JI: I don’t necessarily see a different approach to risk and reward — the same level of due diligence and rigorous process to evaluate a potential investment should still be in place. It’s more the fact that there’s the mindset that we can target and align social and environmental returns just as we evaluate and monitor our ability to generate financial returns through investments. Maybe there’s a stronger expectation placed on reward in that you’re targeting these social and environmental returns on top of the traditional expectation of a financial return, but risk management seems the same as it’s always been.

What challenges did you run into in directing assets toward impact investing?

JI: For Closed Loop Capital, we have spent a lot of time considering the best way to measure and capture the metrics of our social and environmental impact. We’ve found that this can be a significant challenge to fit into one of the existing impact platforms available, especially when you are investing in early-stage companies that, by nature, are still zigging and zagging to fine-tune their business strategy, so [having] a preset array of measurement screens is difficult.

Another challenge we have had within our family, as in any extended family — there is a dynamic with impact investing that can look a little like philanthropy in that it’s not like evaluating traditional investments, where you are really just comparing financial performance against a benchmark. With impact investing, there is a passionate connection to the underlying investment, as you would see in philanthropy, where you’re committed to a certain thematic cause or geographic region. This is fine for an individual, but to get an entire family on the same page about what themes or geographic focuses to take on can be a challenging process. It is like asking everyone what they want for dinner — good luck!


Luke ApicellaLuke Apicella has over nine years of impact investing experience. As an associate with Prudential Financial in the Corporate Social Responsibility’s Impact Investments group, he is responsible for the origination and asset management activities to help grow the portfolio to $1 billion. He covers numerous relationships, industries, private asset types and impact objectives. Apicella has a degree in sustainability management from Columbia University (MS), nance from New York University (MBA) and entrepreneurship from Syracuse University (BS).

What advice would you give to Millennials who are in a position of influence within their families or organizations around investment-making decisions for impact and return?

LA: Start by learning the investment preferences of the organization. For example, is the portfolio allocated for current income or capital gains? Impact investments cut across many traditional asset types, so it is important to look for the investment characteristics that align with the existing investment strategy.

Does the Millennial generation think about risk and reward differently in terms of impact investing?

LA: The proven business solutions of the past are being reconsidered under a more holistic approach. For example, creating housing with electricity is not enough anymore; Millennials want housing that is net-zero, resilient to storms, and integrated into diverse communities. Millennials are willing to take on these new development risks to have more sustainable solutions.

What challenges did you run into in directing assets toward impact investing?

LA: Having a cohesive impact strategy is critical for finding support and resources. Develop a strategy that’s authentic to the history of the organization and what it wants to stand for in the future. The focus will increase the chances of impact. At Prudential, we focus our investments in three strategic areas of savings and protection, quality jobs, and urban transformation, as those ladder up to the overarching business strategy.


Stephanie Cordes

Stephanie joined her family foundation as vice chair after transitioning out of a career in publishing at Self Magazine within the Condé Nast group. Currently, Stephanie advances the foundation’s initiatives that directly leverage capital to organizations that elevate the role of women and girls worldwide, with a particular focus on ethical fashion and sustainable supply chains. Eric Stephenson is the portfolio director at the Cordes Foundation, working to advance the foundation’s impact investing, philanthropic, and eld-building work around women’s empowerment and poverty alleviation.

What advice would you give to Millennials who are in a position of influence within their families or organizations around investment-making decisions for impact and return?

SC: Inspire a collective vision with your family or organization that enables it to leave an enduring legacy of having made a difference in the world. Impact investing has the power to bring families closer together over shared values.

Does the Millennial generation think about risk and reward differently in terms of impact investing?

SC: The term “Millennial” cannot sum up an entire generation; rather, it represents a mindset affecting people of every age who are alive today — a mindset characterized by individuality, global connectedness, and purpose. As individuals, we seek to maximize our utility, which is a similar concept to happiness, and we invest in companies that seek to maximize profits in a way that benefits all stakeholders, not just shareholders. We invest in alignment with our values and seek returns that are commensurate to the risk we take on; however, this goes beyond liquidity, default, maturity risks, etcetera, and includes environmental and social costs and benefits of doing business in our global, interconnected world.

What challenges did you run into in directing assets toward impact investing?

ES: Historically, it was difficult to find investable opportunities across asset classes that were directly aligned with our impact profile and gave us the underlying portfolio diversification and exposures we were comfortable with. However, we have seen many more aligned products come to market over the last two years.

This article appeared in Issue 7 | May/June 2016

Issue 7 features exciting interviews and profiles all focusing on youth and Millennials including: Sweetgreen; Radha and Miki Agrawal; Nisolo; a spotlight on the higher education system including a look at the student debt crisis and the top 15 sustainable MBA programs; and our inspiring cover story — Nikhil Arora and Alejandro Velez of one of the most exciting food companies in the nation, Back to the Roots.

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