Anthos: Attitudes to impact are evolving

The pandemic has highlighted that impact investing can be an effective tool for addressing a wide range of challenges, says Anthos Fund & Asset Management’s Dimple Sahni.

Dimple Sahni, managing director of impact funds portfolios at Anthos Fund & Asset Management and one of Private Equity International’s Women of Influence 2021, outlines how the asset manager approaches impact.

Dimple Sahni

What is Anthos’s approach to impact investing?

The Anthos Multi-Asset Impact Strategy delivers impact across a wide range of asset classes and investment styles, all as part of one coherent approach. Our mission is to enable prosperity for people and the planet by addressing unmet societal and environmental needs around the world and combining human dignity, good citizenship and sustainability with decent financial returns for investors.

Over time, diversifying impact and financial risk-adjusted returns across multiple assets, with a balance between liquid and illiquid investments, creates an all-weather portfolio better able to withstand business cycles and different economic scenarios. As well as manager selection, our active management includes strategic and tactical positioning across asset classes, regions, countries, markets, sectors, currencies, duration and market risk premiums. We see this as the best way to generate an optimal balance between financial returns and social impact.

Impact diversification across different asset classes also allows one to have both a systems level change as well as influence at the grassroots level.

You have over 15 years’ experience in impact investing; how has the industry changed in that time?

The investment world has changed dramatically in the past 15 years. Many investors’ mindsets have shifted from an uncompromising focus on risk and return to firmly believing we also have to consider the social and environmental impact of investing. Today’s investors are increasingly aware that financial returns can go hand-in-hand with responsible investing, and there is no need for a trade-off.

Many institutional investors continue to make progress in integrating ESG aspects into their investments and moving towards a net-positive impact. This is both in response to stakeholder demands and new regulations such as the EU Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation, and also because they genuinely believe this is the right way forward. The introduction of the UN Sustainable Development Goals also highlighted that the world is facing huge challenges, ranging from climate change, poverty and pollution to loss of biodiversity.

Did 2020’s events alter your view on how impact can best serve communities?

If the past year has taught us anything, it is how everything – from global health and climate change to racial and social justice – is fundamentally interconnected. As a result, many people now see impact investing as an effective tool for addressing these challenges. Investment sectors strongly associated with impact investing include healthcare, renewable energy, finance, education and food/agriculture. Many of these sectors, especially the ones that were tech-enabled like healthtech, edtech, fintech, etc, proved to be resilient in an otherwise volatile year.

How do you encourage DE&I at your firm and with the funds you invest in?

As a diversity and inclusion ambassador at my firm, I’m a culture champion who advocates for diversity in hiring, promotions and operating practices. In my due diligence process with fund managers, down to their portfolio companies and more broadly on public/private boards, I inquire about and incorporate a diversity filter as part of my larger impact assessment.