Social impact gurus to charge the growth of impact market
15 April 2019 at 4:46 pm
Australia’s impact investing market is ready to be taken to the next level, according to the newly appointed leaders of the expert panel, who will take charge of developing the nation’s fledgling social impact market.
The Morrison government announced on Wednesday, Social Ventures founding CEO Michael Traill AM would be chair, and Philanthropy Australia council member Amanda Miller, would be deputy chair of the Social Impact Investing Expert Panel.
The expert panel will support the Social Impact Investing Taskforce that was announced as part of the 2019-20 Budget.
The taskforce will need to deliver a national strategy outlining the Commonwealth’s role in the social impact investing (SII) market, and highlight policy changes that allow for private investment solutions to entrenched disadvantaged, by the end of the year.
Traill said he was excited about the opportunity for the expert panel to work with the government to develop practical recommendations that would oversee a growth in the impact investing market.
“While the market has continued to evolve, there is in particular the potential for developing larger scale impact investments that appeal to major institutional funders which has the capacity to transform the size of the market,” Traill said.
Miller told Pro Bono News, over the last few years the Australian market had proved there could be both social and financial returns from social impact investing, and said she hoped the panel could now take the market to scale.
“What we have seen is a huge unmet demand from private capital to invest in this space, and if we can build out the market to scale, there’ll be a lot more opportunities to keep that private capital in Australia rather than them looking to impact investments globally,” Miller said.
“If we don’t move fast enough, the risk is that the funding goes overseas because internationally there are far more products and opportunities for these types of investments, and we really want to keep the capital in Australia.”
She said the panel would look into the policy levers and changes that could be made to help build the market to scale, explore partnerships with the private sector to bring together funding, and new mechanisms to bring institutional investors on board.
Following the announcement of the taskforce, Impact Investing Australia (IIA) called on the government for a one-time investment in Impact Capital Australia, designed as an independent institution, to unlock capital and capacity to tackle social issues at scale.
Miller said the proposal put forward by IIA would be looked into by the panel, but it was important to review all other possibilities as well.
“We need to map the market here, look at the potential ideas that are already being talked about, and think about new ideas,” she said.
“And then come up with a way forward to really stimulate the market and build a kind of ecosystem around us, which I think will really take it to the next level.”
She also acknowledged the work and research already done by groups such as IIA, the Australian Advisory Board on Impact Investing (AAB), and the Centre for Social Impact.
“They’ve done some great work in the area, and I think one thing will be to collaborate and to bring in lots of different voices to build on the benchmarking reports and research that’s already out there,” she said.
Simon O’Connor, CEO of the Responsible Investment Association Australasia (RIAA), welcomed the appointment of Traill and Miller to the roles, describing them as “pioneers” in the early development of impact investing in Australia.
“[They] are very well-placed to help government deepen its role in market development and help realise the potential of impact investment in Australia,” O’Connor said.
“We look forward to working closely with the taskforce in this process.”
Traill and Miller are the first to be appointed to roles following the funding announcement, and Miller said the next step of picking who would make up the taskforce was important to get right.
“That’ll be really important because it needs to represent different stakeholder groups from the sector,” she said.