Millennials driving growing popularity of impact investing

31 August 2018

A new study from American Century Investments has found that though impact investment is growing in popularity across age groups, the socially-conscious investment movement’s most enthusiastic proponents are Millennials.

Impact investing is a growing trend of investing in organizations that will create beneficial societal impact as well as financial returns. Impact capital can be invested in emerging or developed economies, in areas ranging from renewable energy to healthcare to sustainable agriculture. North American and European institutional investors (pension funds, endowments) have played a key role in developing the field of impact investment, while the Catholic Church under Pope Francis has also dipped its feet into the trendy investment area.

Now, socially-conscious Millennials are propelling the growing appeal of impact investing. According to a new study from American Century Investments, the overall ‘appeal’ of impact investing reached 49% among US respondents in 2018 – a growth of 11% since 2016. Millennials found impact investing most appealing, at 56%. Meanwhile, 52% of Gen-Xers found it appealing, and 44% of Baby Boomers. As such Millennials are significantly more likely to find impact investing appealing than their (mostly) Baby Boomer parents.Appeal of impact investing has increased 49% in 2018 compared to 38% in 2016Relatedly, familiarity with the concept of impact investment has grown in the past two years, according to ACI’s survey. In 2016, 20% of respondents were familiar with impact investing, while 24% were familiar with it in 2018. Millennials were most aware of impact investments, with 32% familiar with the concept. 26% of Gen-Xers were familiar with the concept, while 17% of Boomers knew about it.

A rising proportion of people also believe that impact on society is an important part of choosing where to invest. While 42% of respondents in 2016 said that impact on society was important when investing, that number grew 54% in 2018. As in the other categories, Millennials were most keen, with 60% believing that impact investing was very or somewhat important.

Gen-Xers and Baby Boomers were less enthusiastic, with 51% and 52%, respectively, rating impact investing as very or somewhat important. Furthermore, women were more likely to rate impact investing important than men (57% of women vs 51% of men).Important decision factors – very/somewhat important by gender and generation 2018Meanwhile, all age groups rated return on investment as the most important decision factor when selecting investments (84-88%), followed by fees (81-88%), and risks (80-87%). Millennials were less concerned about the three factors than Boomers, though 80% or more still rated the three as somewhat or very important.

"This research shows that interest in impact investing continues to grow across all age groups but particularly among the next generation of investors," said Guillaume Mascotto, vice president, head of ESG (environment, social and governance) and investment stewardship at American Century Investments. "As an asset manager, we're committed to offering solutions for those seeking to have a positive impact on society by investing in companies whose business activities are focused on addressing global issues, notably the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)."

The UN SDGs are made up of 17 goals to address social and economic development issues, including poverty, health, education, gender equality, and global warming.

When asked which causes mattered most to them when making impact investments, the most popular one was healthcare/disease prevention at 33% overall. Boomers were most enthusiastic about the area at 42%, while Millennials were least so (28%) – perhaps echoing slightly selfish generational concerns. Likewise, Millennials were most concerned with ‘improved education’ (29%), while Boomers were much less so, at 12%.

The areas of environment/sustainability and mitigating poverty were about equal in importance across generational categories. 22% of Millennials and Gen-Xers identified the environment as the cause that mattered most when impact investing, while 18% of Boomers selected it. Meanwhile, 11% of Millennials and Boomers selected poverty mitigation, and 12% of Gen-Xers.

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Software firm NICE Actimize launches financial crime consulting practice

28 January 2019

NICE, a provider of technology solutions, has launched a financial crime consulting practice that falls under the NICE Actimize brand. The arm is led by US-based company veteran Chad Hetherington, and provides advisory and execution services on the full range of financial crime operations.

Globally, more than 22,000 organizations in more than 150 countries, including more than 80 of the Fortune 100 companies, are using platforms and solutions from NICE. The NICE Actimize platform supports global financial institutions and regulators in financial crime prevention, such as fraud identification, anti-money laundering detection, and surveillance concerns such as payment fraud, cybercrime, sanctions monitoring, market abuse, customer due diligence, and insider trading. 

Leveraging its extensive experience in the field, NICE Actimize has extended its portfolio with management and digital consulting services. “Financial institutions are continually facing new regulatory and financial crime risks, and as a result operational compliance staffs have ballooned over the past decade. In a world of increased regulatory reporting, financial crime, insider trading, and more unknown risks, institutions are looking to leverage today’s technology, reduce costs, and protect their brands,” Chad Hetherington, global vice president of professional services and the head of the Financial Crime Enterprise Consulting & Advisory (eCAP) unit, said. 

According to an estimate by Thomson Reuters, financial crime costs the global economy $2.4 trillion annually, with the amount projected to increase in the years ahead. Despite spending approximately 3% of their turnover on battling it, “organizations are clearly struggling to curtail financial crime,” David Craig, an executive at Thomson Reuters’s Refinitiv. said. “Inefficient, costly compliance processes are simply inadequate when it comes to screening,” and as a result spending on third-party expertise is on the rise. Consulting in the area of risk and compliance last year represented 5% of US’s $58 billion consulting industry, with the segment one of the fastest growing areas in the landscape. 

Asked about NICE Actimize’s track record in advisory, Hetherington pointed at the firm’s nearly two decades' experience working with financial institutions of all sizes in implementing financial crime solutions across anti-money laundering, anti-fraud, market surveillance, and compliance. “We have worked with hundreds of our customers implementing NICE Actimize’s portfolio of financial crime and compliance solutions. Our eCAP unit offers the depth of experience gained from these engagements and continuous learning in the field," he said.

NICE launches financial crime consulting practice

“We have already consulted on a range of issues, including: Robotic Process Automation (RPA) operational assessments and business case ROI evaluations; alert tuning and optimization; end-to-end investigation observations for operational enhancements; technology eco-system evaluations; enterprise consultancy to align business and technology roadmaps and infrastructure; and adoption of cloud technology," he added.

Tackling financial crime and compliance

Alongside the firm’s financial crime expertise and heritage with clients, the eCAP arm will enable results delivery through its proprietary "Financial Crime Target Operating Model." “This methodology is at the heart of our approach and is designed to pinpoint objectives, create a meaningful technology roadmap and establish a strong enterprise operational plan," Hetherington said. Similar to other areas of operations, a Target Operating Model (TOM) is key for ensuring an effective rollout, with a TOM providing the contours on which to build financial crime programs. 

“eCAP works with clients to evaluate all aspects of their financial crime programs – not just process and technology, but also people. Inefficiencies are identified, with guidance provided to help reduce costs and improve the effectiveness of financial crime programs. Our holistic approach addresses all financial crime technology implementation and compliance related integration matters and outlines the best business and technology operational practices across the enterprise," he said. 

Building on first-hand access to NICE Actimize’s technology backbone – the new consulting firm will enable clients to “stay on top of developing technologies such as artificial intelligence and robotic process automation, as well as create best practices for operational excellence and utilization of cost effective techniques,” Craig Costigan, who leads the NICE Actimize suite, said.

NICE is positioning the consulting arm as an independent player, providing support to both NICE Actimize user groups as well as non-NICE clients. Led from New York, the Financial Crime Enterprise Consulting & Advisory wing will serve customers globally. The team consists of consultants, subject matter experts, analytics experts, software engineers, and solution architects.