Role & Organisation:
Victoria Adams is Managing Director at For Purpose Investment Partners
What was your first job?
After the usual high school jobs of babysitting and paper run, I spent a summer in retail in the children’s shoe section of a department store. During university I worked for the Student Recruitment Office at University of NSW, doing everything from stuffing envelopes and answering phones through to recruitment roadshows and visiting high schools to talk to the kids.
When did you know you wanted to work in finance/business?
I studied Economics in high school and started investing in the share market when I was 18. I loved Economics (especially environmental economics) but I also really liked Science. When I was leaving school, I made the decision to study Civil Engineering with the rationale that I could always go into finance with an engineering degree, but I couldn’t necessarily go into engineering with a business degree.
I did a few work placements in engineering while I was studying my first degree, one of which was working on a bid for a large infrastructure project with a consortium that included investment banks. I found that I was drawn to the financing side of the transaction and began my Masters of Commerce and started applying to the graduate programs in the investment banks shortly thereafter.
When did you first discover the concept of Impact Investing?
I think I developed an awareness of valuing non-financial impacts of investing through studying environmental economics, but until I joined the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, I think it was a very theoretical concept. At CEFC there was a focus on making a good financial return from carbon abatement which really highlighted to me an opportunity for a career in the intersection between having a positive impact whilst making sensible economic returns.
As Head of Social Infrastructure at CEFC, I particularly liked the transactions we did in Community Housing where there was not only a good environmental outcome but also a social outcome.
I am really enjoying being back in the social impact investment sector at For Purpose.
What’s one exciting development you and your team have in the pipeline?
We are currently in exclusive negotiations for an investment into a National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) food delivery business serving customers living with disability. The business provides a wide selection of chef-prepared specialty ready-made meals that are nutritionally balanced (and delicious!). The relative cost per meal is an efficient use of a participant’s NDIS funding rather than having a support worker shop and cook for them.
At For Purpose, we like that the company is an NDIS specialist who understands the needs of the disability community. The company is also a B Corporation, that make a positive impact across our workers, customers, suppliers, community, and the environment and balance profit and purpose.
What was the most interesting impact deal (from any team across Asia/Pacific) in the past 12 months?
I’m really interested in technology and financial solutions for the impact investment market, so the investment by Blackstone into Xpansiv was an interesting deal. Xpansiv is a global carbon and environmental commodities exchange platform, connecting buyers and sellers of environmental commodities and provides market data for voluntary carbon offsets, renewable energy credits, and low-carbon fuels. Creating exchanges for these financial products is essential for accelerating decarbonisation. Perhaps at some point we will have tradable commodities in the social impact space!
Name one high impact company (globally) that investors should keep their eye on?
Hard to choose just one! In the social impact investment market, I like the work that Big Society Capital is doing in the UK. I like their focus on building a social impact investment ecosystem across venture, lending, outcomes contracts and property. They have been very successful in attracting and deploying a large amount of capital over the past ten years.
What’s your vision for impact investing in 5 years time?
In five years’ time, I would hope that the social impact investment market has become significantly more developed and is attracting institutional capital at a large scale. I expect that good impact investment funds will be performing well and there will be increasing demand from investors for opportunities for their capital to have a positive impact whilst generating good financial returns.
There will be a better understanding from investors that you don’t need to take a discount to your financial return to have a positive social impact.
I anticipate that impact measurement and monitoring will become increasingly sophisticated, and I hope that there are transparent and accurate frameworks and standards which can be utilised across a range of investments to enable better information to flow to investors. I also think there will be increasing pressure (and potentially regulation) for all corporates to report on impact, both positive and negative.