What was your first job?
My first official job was selling shoes in a sports store, but I guess years of snow clearing (I grew up in Canada) and clearing gutters of Autumn leaves count as work experience.
When did you know you wanted to work in finance/business?
On a gap year between High School and university, I had a motorbike accident that changed the trajectory of my life. I had been accepted into Queen’s University in Physics, and was going to go through my undergrad degree with the Canadian Air Force, with a view to entering the NASA space program. The accident left me with an injury that meant I wouldn’t be able to fly, and so I traded Physics for a Commerce Degree and a life of business. Definitely a “sliding door” moment!
When did you first discover the concept of Impact Investing and do you remember how it felt at the time?
I was very fortunate to be introduced to microfinance as a young banker, and the idea that you could use capital markets (or capitalism) for good was mind-blowing! So I spent a decade of days making rich people richer, and nights helping poor people become less poor. David Bussau, one of the fathers of microfinance, became a mentor for my wife and me and, since, we have really shaped our lives and careers around using money to do good.
What’s one exciting development you and your team have in the pipeline?
After 15 years in the Impact Property space, I recently joined Wesley Mission to run its property portfolio. We have the privilege of transforming old or under-developed property into housing for vulnerable people, and creating fit-for-purpose real estate for Wesley’s extensive community services. We have half a dozen really exciting projects, but one favourite is repurposing an aged care nursing home into a shelter for victims of family & domestic violence.
What was the most interesting impact deal (from any team across Asia/Pacific) in the past 12 months?
I was most excited by the Homes Victoria social and affordable housing partnerships with institutional investors like Conscious Investment, BrightLight and others. Finally we are getting real scale into housing for purpose!
Name one high impact company (globally) that investors should keep their eye on?
I really like the crossover between philanthropy and impact investing as best exemplified by UBS Optimus Foundation. How cool that private wealth can be blended and focused on helping some of the world’s most vulnerable in developing nations…and at scale!
What’s your vision for impact investing in 5 years time?
I see a time when investors insist on every investment reporting on financial and other objectives – that impact is all its forms will become baked into every investment offering. And that the ones that don’t intentionally do good, will get weeded out by the market, no matter how attractive the financials are.