‘Purpose will complement profits’ – Q&A with Anne-Marie Gillon

The latest numbers from OECD indicate that pension funds hold investments surpassing almost €30 trillion. And the priorities are shifting on how they and where they are allocated. To that end we checked in with Anne-Marie Gillon, a Chartered Financial Analyst and veteran investment professional and pension fund trustee. In her role at IC Select, Anne-Marie provides advice and governance oversight to UK pension funds… 

Why should startups worry about sustainability and impact?

Anne-Marie Gillon

As companies produce and publish their own stewardship reports we can see a clear trend: companies setting themselves the objective to set a positive example as an employer, as an investor and within their own communities. Companies are publicly declaring their aim to uphold and promote the highest standards of service and professional behaviour measured against a set of core values relating to human rights, labour laws, the environment and anti-corruption. They require partners, suppliers and investments to undertake a similar commitment.

What is your most surprising prediction when it comes to impact and sustainability?

Purpose will complement profits.

Possibly not surprising, but there will be increasing focus on companies continuous improvement on impact and sustainability factors. I believe it will soon no longer be acceptable to “comply or explain”. Companies will adopt a stronger stance, striving not just to comply, but to add positive impact. By this I mean the goal of contributing towards a more sustainable world for current and future generations while making attractive investment returns.

What 2-3 books / podcasts would you recommend?

The Guardian UK has a 12 part podcast on climate change called The Biggest Story In The World. Climate change being a key environmental risk. This podcast challenges Guardian journalists to report on climate change in a new way to engage listeners.

This 60 minute podcast by altitude explores a more holistic approach to sustainability strategies for businesses – It is not limited to green buildings anymore. Urbantech can be at the forefront of this change.

I would also recommend reading the stewardship reports of the company or companies you aspire to be like. These reports are published on their websites.

Where’s the best place for new ideas?

Speaking to people. Explore their concerns for now and the future, what problems need solving and how can you help.

Who inspires you?

As an investment company, Hermes has been a pioneer of ESG integration, stewardship and responsible investing for nearly 40 years, long before it became mainstream. In general, companies that can generate solid investment returns while benefiting society and preserving the environment for future generations – gets my vote.

What is your call to action for startups and large firms alike?

Regulation and legislation is changing fast. Keep up to date on rules in your trading jurisdictions. Better still, anticipate change and adapt for it.

Follow Anne-Marie on LinkedIn.