In conversation with Raelan Lambert, Global Head of Alternatives and Ashley Knight, Fellow, World Economic Forum
By taking notice of what is going on outside our immediate focus, we believe we can create long-term investment strategies that can generate returns.
As investors, it is sometimes easy to operate in isolation. We become used to targeting our own objectives using our own methods based on our own principles.
This approach can help us create portfolios that align with our beliefs about broad world philosophies, and it can help assure us that we are doing the “right thing”.
This “right thing” may pertain to how we allocate capital, to whom and with what sustainability concerns in mind. Adhering to this “right thing” may also have caused conflict with those who claim the approach is too idealistic to make either a real difference or real returns.
But for investors who want to make returns while making positive change, and believe they have the power to do so, knowing where we sit in the world is important. Knowing what is going on around us helps us learn from observing the actions and intentions of others.
It can also give our portfolios a potential edge.
Recently, we participated to a panel of experts drawn from industries spanning pharmaceuticals to scientific engineering. Alongside them were also leading figures from banking, public and private investment and industry think tanks.
The panel, who appeared at the AIF Annual Investors Meeting, had been assembled to discuss and illustrate just how widespread the push towards a more diverse, equal and inclusive society has become.
Rather than it just being something investors talk about as an aspiration to work towards, these companies are already implementing D&I strategies on the ground.
They have worked out that rather than it being a “nice to have” in their workplace, taking this approach can deliver tangible improvements to how they operate and what they produce.
From the pharmaceutical giant using an inclusive approach to fortify its clinical trials to the scientific engineering firm gathering a diverse team to spark new ideas on plastic waste, it was clear they were no longer talking in theory.
For investors, this is important. It is key to note that outside of the asset management and investment industry, positive change is already happening. It shows that diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) is not just attainable in the future but is becoming integral to the current agenda. For investors to position their portfolios for the long term, we believe it is vital to take a view outside our own world.
Understanding the context of our investments alongside companies and industries that seem to be already making progress should help us construct and manage sustainable, return-generating portfolios.
The growing trend by investors to “do the right thing” looks like it could translate into being the right thing for our alternatives portfolios, too. We believe embracing DEI in a private markets portfolio can open up a world of opportunity and potentially improve performance for our clients. At Mercer, we therefore invite managers and asset owners to become collaborators in transforming investment management with a rich dialogue around how this subject can help progress the investment industry.
Raelan Lambert, Global Head of Alternatives
Raelan leads Mercer’s Alternatives group, which has $179bn of global assets under advisement, more than $22bn global assets under management and encompasses strategic research, trusted advice and implemented advisory solutions for institutional investors globally. She leads 190 private equity, private debt, infrastructure, real estate, real assets and hedge fund specialists across 21 offices globally.
Ashley Knight, Fellow, World Economic Forum
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