You may not immediately utter social impact and Bank of America in the same breath, but the giant lender kicked off its impact investing program for retail clients back in 2013.
“It is a marked transition over the last 10 years, but even the last three years in terms of demand we see from our clients — it is really growing,” said Jackie VanderBrug, managing director and head of sustainable and impact investing strategy at the bank in a video published on the Bloomberg terminal on Tuesday. She spoke at Bloomberg’s Global Responsible Investing Forum in New York.
Bank of America is now looking to expand its retail social-impact offering in response to broader client demand. Both retail clients as well as institutions want to invest responsibly, VanderBrug noted.
“Invest in your values was where we were 10 years ago. I want to sleep at night, this is who I am. This is how I grew up,” she said. “Increasingly, we just see people saying, I believe companies should be responsible. These companies are going to be long-term winners.”
Investors also have moved beyond specific causes like caring about the ocean to a broader concern based in the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, Vanderbrug said.
Bank of America’s offerings are increasingly reflecting this shift.
“I’m encouraged with our clients — their interests can be gathered and grouped,” VanderBrug said. “There are large themes that do address issues, whether it’s in climate or resource efficiency or inclusion and gender.”
Bank of America may start to pose a threat to impact-focused fintech startups and advisors.
“We’re starting to create total sustainable portfolios with some clear impact elements to it,” she said. “There are increasingly products that have retail orientation, very low minimums.
In terms of investment themes, VanderBrug said, “Affordable housing continues to play, renewables, gender, but gender with diversity inclusion.”
“What’s interesting about gender is that where data is best right now, so we have a lot more data of understanding where integrating gender-based factors in terms of risk and opportunity matter,” she said.
- The total size of the impact investing market is estimated at $502 billion, according to the latest data compiled by GIIN.
- Bank of America’s wealth management arm had more than $17 billion in client balances “with a clearly defined ESG approach” at the end of last year, according to the company site.