Assets devoted to impact investing in Canada have almost doubled over the past two years, and are set to grow further, according to a report from the Responsible Investment Association (RIA) and Rally Assets published Thursday.
The 2018 Canadian Impact Investment Trends Report says total assets under management (AUM) in impact investments — companies, organizations, or funds that aim to create a positive social or environmental impact in addition to a financial return — rose to $14.75 billion as of Dec. 31, 2017, from $8.15 billion at Dec. 31, 2015.
Increasing demand from individual investors, family offices and investment foundations for impact investments across all asset classes, including public markets, is driving the growth in AUM. In particular, impact equity investments have grown notably, the report says, and now account for 41% of impact assets.
This impressive growth trajectory is expected to continue in the years ahead. A survey of Canadian impact investors, which was carried out in the summer of 2018, found “a high degree of optimism” for the impact sector to continue growing, the report says. The survey found that 43% of investors are expecting “high growth” in Canada, 47% see “moderate growth”, and just 10% are anticipating flat or low growth.
“Considering the growth in impact AUM since we started this survey, this year’s results further indicate that impact investing has momentum in Canada and continued significant growth in the industry is to be expected,” the report says.
The primary motivations for impact investing include contributing to community development, fostering sustainable development, and reflecting individual values, according to the report.
“Consumers and investors are increasingly aware and concerned about societal challenges, and these concerns have paved the way for impact investing,” says Dustyn Lanz, CEO of the RIA, in a statement. “There is still a long road ahead for addressing poverty, climate change and other great societal challenges. But the growth of impact investing brings cause for optimism, because many of the solutions will start with a single investment.”
Despite the optimism, investors see a number of obstacles to demand for even greater impact investments, according to the report, including concerns about performance, a shortage of viable products, and the absence of qualified advice about the sector.