The latest “Making the Mark” report from the impact verification consultancy, BlueMark, offers a comprehensive examination of best practices in impact management. The report covers84 practice verifications across investors collectively managing a huge $206 billion in impact AUM, a new high for BlueMark’s research sample. 

WIth this expanded dataset the company has this year introduced custom benchmarks according to asset class and thematic focus.

“The expanded dataset in this year’s ‘Making the Mark’ report reveals an increasingly diverse range of impact investors across asset classes and strategies, reflecting growing adoption of impact management standards across investor types,” said Christina Leijonhufvud, CEO of BlueMark. 

“While we are encouraged by how many more investors are committed to aligning with industry best practices, BlueMark’s research reveals significant areas for improvement remain across key practice areas critical to achieving both impact and financial performance.”

Four new investors – AgDevCo, BlueEarth Capital, Calvert Impact Capital, and Nuveen Fixed Income Impact – have joined the BlueMark Practice Leaderboard this year, an exclusive space initially introduced in 2022 to showcase investors scoring in the top quartile based on their alignment with the Operating Principles for Impact Management (Impact Principles).

Key insights, gleaned from the data, include;

  • Limited adoption of staff incentive systems tied to impact, with only 31% of verified investors integrating impact considerations into staff incentives. 
  • Only 7% of the market has connected their impact performance to carried interest.
  • 55% of investors include impact risk analysis in due diligence, but the focus remains largely on execution risk rather than unexpected impact risk, indicating room for growth in considering potential negative outcomes.
  • A small but growing percentage (32%) of investors engage with target stakeholders to validate outcomes, suggesting that stakeholder feedback will become integral to effective impact management.
  • Less than a third (27%) of investors consistently ensure impact sustainability, while just over half (60%) consider sustainability at and beyond exit. This highlights a need for investors to make impact considerations equal to financial ones and to proactively preserve impact as part of exit strategies.

The report showcases innovative case studies from prominent names in impact investing, such as Adams Street Partners, Franklin Templeton, FullCycle Climate Partners, Schroders Asset Management, and Summa Equity.

Having raised $10 million in a Series A round led by S&P Global in April 2023, BlueMark has already completed over 130 verifications for 95 clients across the investment management industry. This impressive roster manages over $214 billion in impact AUM, approximately 20 percent of the total impact investing market, according to the latest estimates from the Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN).

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