University contributes to HM Treasury report

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The University of Northampton is one of only six universities that have contributed to a new independent review of social impact investment in the UK.

The report calls on government and the financial services industry to build a culture of social awareness within the wider financial community.

Senior Lecturer in Accounting Ewan Tracey was approached to take part by HM Treasury earlier this year after being recommended from within the investment banking industry.

He said: “I think, to be honest, the Treasury was a bit surprised that a university was already thinking about the sort of things they wanted to learn from this review – and we are well ahead of the curve in that regard.

“They were probably most impressed at how we were already ingraining a mind-set of social impact investment within our business and finance students.”

Entitled ‘Growing a Culture of Social Impact Investing in the UK’ the report outlines key recommendations to help grow the number of social impact investors across the country and ensure financial providers help people support the issues they care about through their savings and investment choices.

The University was asked for input along with Oxford University, Kings College London, Cass Business School, the University of Nottingham and De Montfort University.

The report found there is a growing interest among individuals for their investments to have a positive impact on society, as well as produce financial returns.

The UK impact investing market is worth £150bn, and includes investments in renewable energy infrastructure, social housing, social businesses and green bonds.

The report, published on Tuesday, said that a recent survey of 1,800 individuals in the UK had found that while 56 per cent had at least a moderate interest in impact investment, only 9 per cent had invested.

The review urges the government and industry to support co-investment and increase the number of social impact investment opportunities in the market; strengthen competence and confidence within the financial services sector and make it easier for people to invest.

“Ultimately though, the only way to achieve a sea change in thinking is through the education of the investment bankers and social entrepreneurs of tomorrow,” added Ewan.

The Advisory Group included 60 senior representatives from across the financial industry and social sector, such as Elizabeth Corley, vice chair of Allianz, Keith Skeoch, co-chief executive of Standard Life Aberdeen, and Jayne-Anne Gadhia, chief executive of Virgin Money.

They also recommend that government and the social sector should look to increase reporting of the growth of the social impact investment market to give the financial services community a better understanding of the non-financial outcomes.

The report was welcomed by Tracey Crouch, Minister for Sport and Civil Society, and Stephen Barclay, Economic Secretary to the Treasury,

Tracey Crouch, said: “We want people to make investments that reflect their values and have a positive impact on the issues they care about. These recommendations are an important first step and I look forward to working closely with the industry to bringing social impact investment into the mainstream.”

Stephen Barclay added that social impact investing has the power to make a change for good, while also bringing “positive financial returns”.

“It’s a win-win, which is why demand is growing. The market has enormous potential, but we need to make it easier for people to make a social impact investment. Today’s recommendations will help make this possible.”

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