Responsible Asset Owners (“RAO”) brings together investment professionals and investors to share thought leadership and innovation regarding responsible investing while also promoting collaboration. I virtually attended ROA’s Europe 2021 symposium and particularly enjoyed the session titled “Impact Investments: How to find, measure, and track them” led by the following contributors:


  • Chris Perceval – Head of Business Development EMEA, S&P Sustainable


  • Sarah Gordon– Chief Executive Officer, Impact Investing Institute
  • Elena Manola-Bonthond– Chief Investment Officer, CERN Pension Fund
  • Mark Campanale– Founder & Executive Chair, Carbon Tracker
  • Carlos Martins Senior– Portfolio Manager, European Stability Mechanism


The panelists repeatedly clarified that impact investing differs from ESG investing in that the latter equates to “doing no harm,” whereas the former parallels “delivering good.” There must be clear intent to deliver measurable positive impact alongside a competitive financial return for impact investing. Fundamentally, an impact investor must reconcile her fiduciary duty with impact, or equivocally purpose with a return.

As we all know, measuring impact is challenging. Carlos described his organization’s unique approach to impact measurement as two-fold:

Measure impact inside-out by asking yourself how your portfolio (inside) will impact the world (out)—for example, an individual green bond issuer’s impact on the environment.
Assess impact outside-in by considering the risks posed by the external environment (outside) to your portfolio (in)—for instance, scores provided by ESG rating agencies.

Mark controversially asked if it’s hypocritical for an impact investor to invest in an offshore investment vehicle that does not pay tax? He believes the most responsible thing a company can do is pay tax, which in turn provides for education, healthcare, etc. Additionally, Mark disagrees with the assertion that all investments generate impact, and therefore all investing is impact investing. Instead, he thinks impact investing addresses what traditional investing has failed to do thus far by transforming the relationship between society and finance.

The session closed with the panelists advising attendees to merely decide to invest in impact investments, which signals to the market that investors are indeed interested in this strategy.