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Knowledge@Wharton: How Impact Investing Can Change the World

Knowledge@Wharton: How Impact Investing Can Change the World

Stephanie Kim: You supported WSII’s impact investing research this year. Our report, “Great Expectations: Mission Preservation and Financial Performance in Impact Investing,” aimed to debunk the expectation that impact investors must always sacrifice financial returns when seeking social returns. We found no evidence that supports the trade-off. What was your reaction when you heard these results?

Liesel Pritzker Simmons: Quite frankly, I was not surprised. I was very pleased to see the weight and rigor that Wharton can bring to the research. But anecdotally, from my own experience as an investor and in working with other investors, we have not actually seen that trade-off that I keep hearing about from more traditional investors. I was very pleased that my sort of anecdotal experience now had some academic rigor behind it, because I think one thing that’s been a real struggle in the impact investing space is traditional investors sort of believe this myth that there needs to be a trade-off. Sometimes there can be, but if you’re seeking commercial returns or market rate returns, chances are you can achieve those and also achieve your impact goals as well.

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