Impact Investing: Building a Better World
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Impact Investing: Building a Better World

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The following content is sponsored by BlackRock.

Typically, an investor’s main objective revolves around building wealth and then turning that wealth into an income generator. As a result, financial returns are accepted as the default performance metric.

But what if investing could also address the world’s most pressing social and environmental problems?

More Than Investing

This infographic from BlackRock introduces the concept of impact investing and explains why it can be a force for good.

impact

BlackRock Impact Investing

What Does Positive Impact Look Like?

Impact investing is a sustainable investing approach that combines the intention to generate positive returns with positive, measurable social and environmental outcomes.

To understand what these outcomes actually look like, here are some highlights from the companies that the BlackRock Impact Team invests in.

  • 102,000 GWh of renewable energy generated
  • 11 million metric tons of food waste mitigated
  • 114 million individuals empowered with access to financial services
  • 99 million people given access to clean drinking water
  • 600,000 families given access to affordable housing
  • 1.8 billion patients given access to affordable healthcare

These outcomes were generated in 2020, and help to make our world a better place.

The Three Pillars of Additionality

For impact investing to be an effective strategy, investors must be able to accurately measure the positive outcomes their capital is helping to create. A company may claim to be aligned with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), but its actions may not be making a real world difference.

“Alignment to the SDGs is not enough to qualify as impact; we require that companies advance the SDGs by providing a solution that is additional, thereby creating genuine impact.”
-Quyen Tran, Director of Impact Investing at BlackRock

Below is an overview of the three pillars of additionality that BlackRock uses to measure impact. In this context, additionality means an outcome would not have occurred without the company’s contribution.

1. Additionality From the Investee (the company)

A company provides additionality if its products and services address a need that is unlikely to be fulfilled by others. The primary sources of company additionality are:

  • The application of leading technologies
  • The deployment of innovative business models
  • The delivery of products and services to underserved populations

Helping underserved populations is a powerful way to create impact. In 2017, for example, it was estimated that 1.7 billion adults did not have a bank account.

2. Additionality From the Investor

Investors can also provide additionality by empowering businesses to create positive impact. This can be done through five mechanisms:

  • Invest with a long-term ownership mindset
  • Engage with companies to help enhance their impact outcomes
  • Invest capital when an impact company needs to raise more capital
  • Bring much-needed visibility to undervalued impact companies
  • Create a better marketplace for impact companies looking to go public

The effects of these mechanisms are already being seen worldwide, especially as awareness of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors rises. According to a 2020 report by KPMG, 80% of companies now publish sustainability reports.

3. Additionality From the Asset Class

Even with the help of private investments, the world faces a multi-trillion-dollar shortfall in its quest to meet the UN SDGs by 2030. Public equities have the ability to shrink this gap by moving capital towards enterprises that are solving the world’s greatest challenges.

MarketValue
Private market impact investing$0.5T
Private markets$5.3T
Public equities$93.0T

Source: McKinsey & Co (2019), BlackRock (2020)

At $93 trillion in total value, public equities are roughly 20 times larger than private markets.

Building a Better World

Solving today’s greatest challenges often requires innovative solutions. Consider the fact that many regions suffer from a lack of doctors.

RegionDensity of Physicians
Europe1 for every 293 people
Americas1 for every 417 people
Southeast Asia1 for every 1,239 people
Africa1 for every 3,324 people

Source: World Health Organization (2021)

An impact investing strategy will seek out companies whose products or services can help to alleviate this shortage. For example, the BlackRock Impact Team has identified a medical software company whose platform lowers administrative costs and increases productivity.

Cybersecurity is another area where investors can help create positive change—according to McAfee, cybercrime has become a $1 trillion drag on the global economy.

This risk disproportionately affects small and mid-sized enterprises (SMEs) because they have limited resources to protect themselves. Cybersecurity companies that specialize in servicing SMEs can help protect this important part of the economy.

The Time is Now

Impact investing is not limited to a single theme. Around the world, various social and environmental issues are capturing the attention of governments and society. Ultimately, what’s needed are innovative solutions.

“If your savings can earn a strong return invested in companies that are doing good for the world, why would you invest any other way?”
—Eric Rice, Head of Active Equities Impact Investing at BlackRock

By directing capital to the right companies, investors have the potential to generate financial return while building a better world.

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Retirement Spending: How Much Do Americans Plan to Spend Annually?

Retirement expenses can vary significantly from person to person. In this graphic, we show the range of expected retirement spending.

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Retirement Spending

Americans’ Expected Annual Retirement Spending

Planning for retirement can be a daunting task. How much money will you need? What will your retirement spending look like?

It varies from person to person, based on factors like your health, outstanding expenses, and desired lifestyle. One helpful trick is to break it down into how much you estimate you’ll spend each year.

In this graphic from Personal Capital, we show the expected annual retirement spending of Americans. It’s the last in a three-part series that explores Americans’ spending and savings.

The Range of Retirement Spending

To determine how much people expect to spend, we used anonymized data from users of Personal Capital’s retirement planning tool. It’s worth noting that these users are proactive regarding financial planning. They also have a median net worth of $829,000 compared to the $122,000 median net worth of the U.S. population overall.

Here is the range of expected annual retirement spending.

Expected Annual Retirement SpendingPercent of People
$10K1.3%
$20K3.3%
$30K7.5%
$40K9.8%
$50K5.2%
$60K12.7%
$70K10.2%
$80K6.4%
$90K9.1%
$100K5.4%
$110K1.5%
$120K9.7%
$130K1.5%
$140K2.8%
$150K2.2%
$160K0.9%
$170K0.4%
$180K2.7%
$190K0.7%
$200K0.8%
$210K0.5%
$220K0.2%
$230K0.1%
$240K1.6%
$250K0.3%
$260K0.2%
$270K0.1%
$280K0.1%
$290K0.1%
$300K0.7%
Over $300K2.1%

Users are a mix of single individuals and people in a relationship. In all cases, expected retirement spending is what the household expects to spend annually.

The most commonly-cited expected spending amount is $60,000. Interestingly, this is roughly in line with what Americans spend annually on their credit cards. This suggests that people may be using their current bills to help gauge their future retirement spending.

Median spending, or the middle value when spending is ordered from lowest to highest, falls at $70,000. However, average spending is a fair amount higher at $100,000. This is because the average is calculated by adding up all the expected retirement spending amounts and dividing by the total number of users. Higher expected spending amounts, some in excess of $300,000 per year, skew the average calculation upwards.

Of course, given their higher net worth, it’s perhaps not surprising that many Personal Capital users expect to spend larger amounts in retirement. How does this compare to the general population? According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Americans age 65 and older spend about $48,000 per year on average.

Chances of Retirement Success

Once you’ve determined how much you’ll spend in retirement, your next step may be to wonder if your savings are on track. Based on an assessment of Personal Capital retirement planner users, here is the breakdown of people’s chance of success.

Retirement Spending Chance of Success

The good news: more than half of people have an 80% or better chance of meeting their retirement spending goals. This means they have sufficient financial assets and are contributing enough, regularly enough, to meet their expected spending amount. The not so good news: one in five people has a less than 50% chance of meeting their goals.

This problem is even more troublesome in the overall U.S. population. Only 50% of people have a retirement account, and the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College estimates half of today’s workers are unprepared for retirement.

Setting Your Own Retirement Spending Goals

While seeing the goals of others is a starting point, your annual retirement spending will be very specific to you. Not sure where to start?

Financial planners typically recommend that you should plan on needing 70-80% of your pre-retirement income in retirement. This is because people generally no longer have certain expenses, such as commuting or childcare costs, when they retire. However, keep in mind your expenses could be higher if you still have a mortgage, encounter unforeseen medical expenses, or want to splurge on things like travel when you retire.

It requires some upfront planning, but being realistic about your retirement spending can give you confidence in your financial future.

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Navigating Market Volatility: Why ETFs Are Critical Tools

Historically, the trading volume of ETFs has spiked during market volatility. We explore why ETFs are preferred by institutional investors.

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ETFs During Market Volatility

Download the ETF Snapshot for free.

Why ETFs Are Critical Tools During Market Volatility

Investors experienced record-breaking volatility in 2020. During COVID-19 market turbulence, the CBOE Volatility index surpassed the previous peak seen in 2008.

In this infographic from iShares, we explore how ETFs rose in popularity during this time—and the characteristics that make them particularly useful during market volatility. It’s the first in a five-part series covering key insights from the ETF Snapshot, a comprehensive report on how institutional investors manage volatility.

The Methodology

To assess how institutional investors navigated this volatility, Institutional Investor published a report in 2021 based on a survey of 766 decision makers. Respondents were from various types of organizations, firm sizes, and regions.

For instance, here is how responses broke down by location:

  • 21% Asia Pacific
  • 36% North America
  • 29% Europe, Middle East and Africa
  • 14% Latin America

Here’s what the survey found.

Rebalancing During Market Volatility

In total, 90% of institutional investors said they rebalanced their portfolios between the first and third quarter of 2020. How did they do it?

Among all financial tools, ETFs were the most popular vehicle for rebalancing. For instance, ETFs were used by 70% of investors globally, compared to the 51% who used mutual funds or derivatives.

The popularity of ETFs was evident in market activity. From January to March 2020, ETFs as a proportion of total equity trading volume increased.

 January 2020February 2020March 2020
VIX142058
ETF trading volume$95B$136B$240B
ETF as % of equity volume26%27%36%

Based on an average of daily values. Reflects all listed U.S. ETFs across all asset classes.

This trend is true historically as well, as ETF trading volume has typically spiked during periods of volatility.

Want more institutional insights into ETFs?

Global Forecast 2022

Download The ETF Snapshot for free.

The Attributes Driving ETF Usage

Why are ETFs preferred by institutional investors? They offer three key characteristics:

  1. Liquidity: ETFs make it much simpler to buy and sell large portfolios instantly, instead of trading individual securities.
  2. Transparency: Among multi-asset managers, transparency of holdings is the top reason for using ETFs. A clear holdings breakdown helps these managers achieve exposures to particular asset classes, sectors, and styles.
  3. Efficiency: ETFs can be traded quickly. They typically also have lower transaction costs relative to the underlying basket of securities.

Based on these key benefits, ETFs were an invaluable tool during extreme market volatility.

Growing Momentum

ETFs are also poised to help institutional investors navigate the market going forward. Globally, 65% of institutional investors plan to increase their use of ETFs in the future.

In fact, this is already coming to fruition. As of September 2021, the average daily trading volume of ETFs was up more than 5% compared to 2020.

Evidently, ETFs play a critical part in helping institutional investors achieve their goals.

Download the ETF snapshot for free.

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