Adair Morse, an associate professor with the Haas Finance Group, is one of three University of California researchers to win the 2016 Moskowitz Prize for their finding that Europe’s demand for impact funds over more traditional investments is outpacing supply.
Morse, along with UC Davis’ Brad Barber and Ayako Yasuda, received the Moskowitz Prize for Socially Responsible Investing during the 27th annual SRI Conference, held Nov. 9-11 in Denver. The long-running conference draws investors and investment professionals in sustainable, responsible-impact investment in North America.
The winning paper, “Impact Investing,” is a study of 3,500 limited partners, 5,000 funds, and 25,000 capital commitments results. For their research, the authors developed a model to chart investor demand for impact funds over traditional options, matching characteristics between fund and investor. Their study found the lack of options for impact investment is most acute in Europe, where demand is three times higher than in the U.S. and the rest of North America.
The private capital pool is enormous, and even a small redirecting of that capital could have a huge impact on the world’s most pressing problems, Morse said. “We hope that by documenting the demand for impact—and the institutional factors that promote or hinder investing for impact— we can add just a bit of knowledge that empowers policy and society,” said Morse, who teaches New Venture Finance at Berkeley-Haas. Her research covers household finance, entrepreneurship, corruption and governance, and asset management.
Robert Strand, executive director of the Berkeley-Haas Center for Responsible Business, which manages the Moskowitz Prize, called “Impact Investing” a landmark article, noting the sheer quantity and quality of measurement the study required.
Lisa R. Goldberg, co-director of the Consortium for Data Analytics in Risk and an adjunct professor of economics and statistics at UC Berkeley, said the study’s main finding represents a huge incentive for innovation in impact investing funds “that can do such things as mitigate climate change and elevate the standard of living around the world.”
The prize is named for Milton Moskowitz, one of the first investigators to publish comparisons of the financial performance of portfolios screened for social and environmental issues and impacts. Its sponsors are Calvert Group, First Affirmative Financial Network, Nelson Capital Management, Neuberger Berman, and Trillium Asset Management.