New Summit Investments is a new joint venture between Arjuna Capital and Baldwin Brothers focused on the impact investment market. Arjuna Capital spun off from Baldwin Brothers in August 2016, and now operates as an independent registered investment advisor. The two firms built off this relationship to launch New Summit. Both firms continue to offer sustainable and responsible investment advice to their wealth management clients.
Alex Lamb, New Summit’s managing director, spoke to RI about the fund. Lamb, whose career tracks through a who’s who of ESG research – E&Y, Trucost, MSCI, KLD Research Analytics – said that the firm was co-founded between Arjuna and Baldwin to improve investor access to the impact investment space through a multi-manager strategy. “There are a lot of funds and a lot of managers vetting private opportunities for clients,” he said, “but not a lot of efficiency in the market. We were responding to clients interested in the space who were finding a lack of access to good investments because of the barriers around sourcing, high minimums and expert diligence.”
New Summit is focused exclusively on environmental and social outcomes. “Impact,” said Lamb, “is an investment lens focused on both an enterprise’s intentionality and the results an enterprise is able to achieve through its goods and services. Therefore, we look for the shared value between social and economic return.”
The fund will be offering three funds: Highwater, which is a public equity strategy that has been running for close to a decade, Income & Impact, which is a private debt strategy that has been running around three years, and a private equity fund that is currently closed. “We will look to launch our second Private Market Impact fund within the next year, based along similar lines as the last one,” said Lamb. The Income & Impact fund focuses on community development and food, health and wellbeing, largely through investments in credit unions and other micro-funders, but also in impact funds put together by other SRI funds and by non-profits.The Highwater fund is focused on green innovation, conscious commerce and economic empowerment; it has holdings in companies as diverse as water technology firm Xylem, insurer Chubb and organic food distributor UNFI.
I asked Lamb if the current funds have been running for so long why was it felt that a new organisation was needed to run the funds. In other words, why New Summit? Both firms felt that they needed to provide a greater clarity to the core strategies and have a single focus for the market. Resources were leveraged internally through Baldwin and Arjuna, but they are now provided through New Summit as the firm now has employees with roles specific to each strategy; though even so expertise can and will be provided by managers from the two founding firms.
“The new firm aims to offer an efficient conduit between owners of capital and those putting impact capital to work. through partnership and collaborations, this becomes even more effective” said Lamb. One partnership that Lamb described, for example, was with BSW Wealth Partners, in Boulder Colorado. BSW had clients who wanted greater access to impact investing solutions in the private equity and real asset space. In partnership with BSW, New Summit took the lead in building a solution given its expertise in fund design and portfolio management. In most cases, investments would be allocated to one of the investment strategies already in place, though there is a possibility of more active management with a significant enough investment.
Finally, I asked Lamb what plans were for the future. “To continue to grow the strategies that we are currently managing,” he answered, “and to deliver them as efficiently as possible.” Once the currently closed private equity/real asset fund is fully committed by the end of this year, Fund II will be brought on line.