Continuing our volunteering series, Rebecca McCartney shares her experience volunteering with the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) Institute.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been volunteering for causes I care about whether that was baking fairy cakes as a child for my local community centre, or representing young peoples’ voices in policy discussions with my local council or supporting young people establish their own businesses with Young Enterprise.
Like a number of my colleagues, I’m a bit of a serial volunteer and often have to stop myself putting my hand up to join amazing initiatives from a lack of hours in the day. That being said, I’m currently a trustee of UK Youth, a national charity for the youth sector, and a mentor for ventures at the School of Social Entrepreneurs.
There’s a common thread running through my volunteering choices in that I tend to focus on young people and/or knowledge and skills development. The former is driven by being given many life chances as a young person, but I passionately believe the latter is crucial for every individual no matter their background, age or occupation.
On that basis, I also decided to volunteer for the CFA Society of the UK which is the UK’s leading association for the investment profession with over 11,600 members and is the national member of the CFA Institute, the world’s largest community of investment professionals. Its mission is to lead the investment profession globally by promoting the highest standards of ethics, education and professional excellence for the benefit of society. It is often known for its CFA Programme qualification (which I’m currently doing).
Nearly everyone I met while studying for the CFA and at events had no idea what impact investing was and seeing an opportunity to do something about this, I started working with the CFA UK in summer 2016 to establish a new Social Impact Investing Special Interest Group to begin to engage its members and broader network.
So why the CFA rather than volunteering my time in a more traditional way? I believe there are a lot of investment professionals who want to do things differently, more ethically and create positive change, which is what the CFA is all about. However these professionals don’t always have easy access to the knowledge and networks to fully engage with emerging trends such as impact investing. This is what the Special Interest Group has been set up to address. My hope is that at a most basic level, individuals will gain knowledge and skills through participating, and that there will also be a multiplier effect over time as there is greater awareness and capital flows of impact investment to generate increased social impact.
The Special Interest Group was formally established in late 2016 and is beginning to build a community of interested individuals to exchange knowledge and ideas. It will also run regular talks from interesting speakers and networking events, the first of which was held a few weeks ago when Big Society Capital’s Chief Investment Officer, Jeremy Rogers, gave an overview of social impact investing to a group of 45 people. I was encouraged by the positive reception of all the attendees and a genuine desire to learn more.
Given its prominence within the investment profession, the CFA UK has an important role to play in shaping the profession’s future and demonstrating the contribution it makes to the economy and wider society. I feel an engagement with impact investing should be part of helping achieve this. As a result, I’m pleased to be working alongside other CFA UK Special Interest Group Chairs and volunteers to support this mission.