Bringing Sustainable & Impact Investing to the Mainstream Capital Markets
Whether the subject is climate change, income inequality, healthcare, nutrition & education imperatives, rebuilding infrastructure, or supply chain management sustainable investing and finance can produce tremendous economic value. Governments cannot meet these challenges alone; and the private sector must work to proactively to get the job done. Leveraging the scale and dynamism of the capital markets is essential. Erika sounds the call for corporate sustainability, transparency and governance excellence. She highlights the need for mainstream investors to push for engaging Wall Street and capital markets around the globe. “We’re at an inflection point where we can have a better and more sustainable form of capitalism if we act consciously, pragmatically and systematically,” she says. Participants will come away with a deeper understanding of the tools available to create change, and ways to bring about superior, risk-adjusted, market-rate returns over the long run.
Women and Diversity in the Workplace
Rising to the top on Wall Street is no easy game. While women have made strides in the past 25 years, wide gaps remain. This is particularly the case with regard to Board leadership and representation in top corporate positions. Erika champions diversity that informs the workplace and improves decision-making by engaging with “new” voices; and she calls on businesses to elevate their commitment to listen. By developing the “soft power” of networks, women can also do better to share lessons learned. Investors are central in promoting more diverse Boards and have a greater voice regarding corporate governance. By repeatedly asking questions, they can advocate for companies to broaden their practices, such as considering skill-sets honed in non-traditional ways. “Activist” investors can play a positive role in promoting diversity and good governance if they take a long-term, constructive view.
Jumping out of a plane, and building the parachute on the way down” is how some people describe entrepreneurship. In leaving the halls of one of Wall Street’s top investment banks to set out on her own, Erika highlights her journey of becoming the Founder of the next generation financial services firm...one which is “purpose built” for sustainable and impact investing. Erika’s offers a compelling tale of seizing opportunities and the need to catalyze change. She talks of ways to stoke business innovation, whether as a standalone company, or from within a large organization to develop models for the future global economy.
A confluence of factors make her new venture, Cornerstone Capital Inc., well-timed: Technology and social media are fueling the rise of impact investors, who have more ways to measure and understand that what is good for society can also be good for business and profitability. Millennials, who are generally more educated, socially conscious and connected, will soon be actors in the largest intergenerational transfer of wealth in history. As such, the next generation of “billionaire investors” will demand not only competitive economic returns, but positive societal impact.
Erika Karp is Chief Impact Officer at Pathstone, an independently operated, partner-owned advisory firm offering comprehensive family office services and customized investment advice for families, family offices, and foundations and endowments. Erika joined the Pathstone team from Cornerstone Capital Group, the sustainable and impact investment advisory firm she founded in 2013, and whose team is now part of Pathstone.
As an early advocate, Erika brings both pragmatism and intensity to driving the discipline of sustainable and impact investing. Having spent decades on Wall Street, Erika developed a deep belief in environmental, social, and governance (ESG) analysis as a critical input to investment decision-making. At Pathstone, she guides the firm’s strategy for engaging with clients who seek to align their investments with their mission or values.
Erika envisions a world where capitalism fully values all forms of capital, including human and natural capital, and where investments serve to foster a regenerative global economy. She has made it her mission to bring the disciplines of finance, economics, and sustainability to bear in pursuit of a more inclusive form of capitalism. More of Erika’s thoughts on this can be found here.
In 2021, Erika was recognized by InvestmentNews for Excellence in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. The award honors individuals who inspire others from diverse backgrounds to join, flourish, and bring their authentic selves to work in the financial services industry. Erika was also recognized among 100 “Women in Impact” by Real Leaders.
Erika speaks at venues and conferences around the world including GreenBiz, the UN Global Compact, Confluence Philanthropy, Mission Investors Exchange, SALT, the Clinton Global Initiative, the Wharton School, the NYSE, the Organization for Economic Co-operation & Development (OECD), the White House, and many other forums.
Erika holds an MBA in Finance from Columbia University and a BS in Economics from the Wharton School.