Ron D. Cordes on a Mission to Activate New Change Agents
MEET RON CORDES
Ron D. Cordes is a man on a mission to change the landscape of impact investing. He is the co-chairman of Genworth Financial Wealth Management (NYSE:GNW), which is responsible for over $25 billion in assets under management. He is also on the board of Impact Assets, a non-for-profit financial service firm focused on impact investments. Ron is driven by an entrepreneurial spirit. He built a financial asset management business, which he sold to Genworth in 2006. Now he has expanded his vision towards impact investing.
In my recent interview with him, I asked him who was the new change agent in impact investing. He said, the financial advisor.
NEW CHANGE AGENTS: FINANCIAL ADVISORS
Ron is familiar with working with financial advisors. He has done it all his professional life. And what he knows is that most clients seek insights from their financial advisors. According to Hope Consulting, 27% of high networth individuals seek advice from their financial advisors. And according to the same report, over 48% of high networth individuals are interested in impact investment opportunities. Large houses are tuned into this trend and pioneers like Morgan Stanley have launched impact investment platforms.
Other leading institutions like CalPERS are integrating impact criteria into their asset allocation and leading minds at firms like Imprint Capital are helping other fund managers gain access to this market.
The question is with such significant interest from investors to participate in impact investing, why is the total amount of assets under management in this field still relatively small. Ron says that it boils down to the empowering financial advisors with know-how.
In his view, financial advisors lack a voice when it comes to impact investment.
FINDING THEIR VOICE
Ron says that educating financial advisors is essential for substantial capital to flow into this sector. In an effort to contribute to the general education of financial advisors, Impact Assets launched its The ImpactAssets 50 (IA 50). It is an open-source, publicly published database of experienced private debt and equity impact investment fund managers. In addition to on-line resources, Ron encourages firms to build up their internal know-how and for individual financial advisors to attend conferences like SOCAP and Net Impact to become familiar with the companies and stakeholders that are emerging in this space.
THE ROAD AHEAD
He recognizes that the field is emergent and that there are heated discussions over how to define impact investing. When I asked about the narrow pipeline of highly scalable companies operating in the impact sector, he remained optimistic. He indicated that more mature sectors like micro-credit will be early recipients of the capital flows and that as the capital availability increases household names will tap into it to finance impact projects and it will invite talent that normally goes to traditional companies to start impact focused ventures.
Ron sees a $120 billion impact investment marketplace. To tap into his brain, you will have to chase him down on a plane, train or automobile for he is perpetually on the road helping financial advisors learn that they can do both good and well.
Original post in Forbes