Over the last few years, many foundations have sought new ways to augment their grantmaking efforts. One emerging approach is mission-related investing or MRI. But many institutional investors, including foundations, struggle with implementation strategy, risk management and manager selection.
In 2007, Meyer Memorial Trust commissioned representatives of Equilibrium Capital Group LLC to conduct an independent study to assess the state of the MRI market and develop a practical MRI implementation strategy for institutional investors. Equilibrium is a private equity company which invests in and partners with entrepreneurs to build companies in multi-hundred billion dollar sectors that are being transformed by global sustainability trends. The unconventional partnership reflects an emerging willingness among financial services professionals and institutional investors to forge new relationships and collaborate as the financial services industry looks to innovate through MRI.
Mission Related Investing: Building a portfolio explores current obstacles to MRI development and sets out a four-step implementation plan. The work reflects the Meyer Memorial Trust’s deep dedication to issues of sustainability. Key findings suggest that institutional investors and foundations are the leading entities looking for MRI investment products in different asset classes. Traditionally, investors work with consultants or so-called ‘gatekeepers’ to identify investment products. The study found that these ‘gatekeepers’ are not aware of the many products and MRI opportunities being developed so institutional investors themselves have become the market drivers for MRI. They are therefore at the forefront of influencing the development of MRI and sustainability domain expertise across the traditional investment value chain. The report suggests a four-step implementation process: 1) objectives setting; 2) investment; 3) evaluation; and 4) integration. The fourth step achieves mission implementation across all organizational tools, programmes and assets.
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