A new episode of SOCAP’s podcast series, Money + Meaning is now available!
The Executive Director of the U.S. Impact Investing Alliance on The State of the Field
“All investing has an impact that is largely opaque to the investor, and I think that the work of our field, in part, is to make that impact, positive and negative…transparent to the investor so that the investor can choose.”
“In 1998 (I felt that) the social, economic, environmental problems were so large and so intractable and felt that grant capital alone and foreign government aid alone wouldn’t be enough to address the pressing issues of our time….I’ve committed my career to this work and it has been so exciting to see the development of the field.”
Fran Seegull is the Executive Director of the U.S. Impact Investing Alliance, an organization working to grow demand for impact investing across America, attract more impact capital across asset classes globally, and build the impact investing ecosystem. Before taking the Executive Director role at the Alliance, Seegull served as the Chief Investment Officer at ImpactAssets.
Much of Seegull’s career has involved impact work, even before the term impact investing was coined. Right after finishing business school, Seegull began working with and for impact entrepreneurs before transitioning to the investment side in 2006. Over the years she has charted the tremendous rise in impact capital. In 2011, when Seegull joined ImpactAssets, a nonprofit financial services firm which deploys capital across asset classes for impact through their donor-advised fund, their assets under management totalled $30M. In 2019, assets under management at ImpactAssets has exceeded $1B. Seegull notes that this “extraordinary growth” can be seen as “a microcosm of the growth of the field itself.”
When Darren Walker took over the leadership of the U.S. National Advisory board (which grew out of The G7 Social Impact Investment Taskforce led by Sir Ronald Cohen), the board transformed into the U.S. Impact Investing Alliance. Walker recruited Seegull to run the new alliance and, in her words, “build on the policy heritage that we have from the G7 work, but also expand into other areas where felt we could be value-add and very high leverage in trying to catalyze the flow of more capital for impact among U.S. asset owners with a global eye.” Walker and Seegull first introduced the Alliance, which is being accelerated by the Ford Foundation, at the 2017 GSG Impact Summit.
Long time attendees of SOCAP know Seegull as a prominent and influential voice in our community. She has led the popular State of the Field session on impact investing at the flagship SOCAP conference every year since 2013 and will do so again this year at SOCAP19 along with Cathy Clark, Director of the CASE i3 Initiative on Impact Investing.
In this episode of Money + Meaning, released on the first day of SOCAP19, Lindsay Smalling has a conversation with Seegull that looks back at her career in impact, offers insight into the history and growth of the field (naming many of the most important watershed moments and policy landmarks) and offers her perspective on the mainstreaming of impact investing, recent critiques of the field (including Anand Giridharadas and his book Winners Take All) as well as the recent Business Roundtable announcement which expanded the purpose of a corporation to be about serving all stakeholders, not just shareholders.
Seegull also covers some of the big opportunities and challenges that we are grappling with right now in the impact space, the potential impact of the $30 to 40 trillion dollar wealth transfer that will happen over the next decade, democratizing access to impact investing, the need for strong market infrastructure, and what keeps her dedicated to the work.
About Money + Meaning
Money + Meaning is the official podcast of SOCAP. This series aims to expand the conversation around impact investing and strategies to finance and support social change while stimulating innovative and valuable new partnerships across sectors.
- SOCAP Conversations: Fran Seegull on Impact Investing in 2015
- The OZ Framework
- GIIN 2019 Sizing the Impact Investing Market Report
- USSIF 2018 Trends Report Executive Summary
- Morgan Stanley 2019 Sustainable Signals Report
- Arabesque-University of Oxford 2015 Study, From the Stockholder to the Stakeholder: How Sustainability Can Drive Financial Outperformance
Watch Darren Walker, President of the Ford Foundation and Chair of the U.S. Impact Investing Alliance, and Fran Seegull, Executive Director of the U.S. Impact Investing Alliance, introduce the organization’s mission and vision.