Today we have published our response to the conversation we held on transparency.
Transparency is one of Big Society Capital’s founding principles and we are committed to ensuring Big Society Capital as an institution as well as the wider social investment market is as transparent as possible.
In the summer we published 11 proposals to improve our transparency that arose from a review of best practice and a discussion with our stakeholders. These ranged from publication of further information on investments made by the fund managers Big Society Capital invests in to holding a Town Hall Meeting open to all members of the public. To engage our stakeholders, we held an Open Conversation inviting feedback on the proposals as well as suggestions for other proposals we should be taking forward.
The input we received through the “Conversation” has been very valuable. In addition to the comments we received in response to our publication, we discussed our proposals in greater detail with ten of our fund manager investees and convened a roundtable of experts to discuss the proposal regarding publication of data on individual investments.
We did not receive any significant objections to any of the proposals so over the next year we will be implementing all of them. Most importantly we will work with our fund manager investees to publish detailed data on investments made into charities and social enterprises. We have also considered and in many cases will be taking forward the additional suggestions made by our stakeholders. These include publishing a further breakdown of our operational costs and scoping the use of customer service surveys in investment processes.
There were many themes in the discussions that ensued from the proposal: importance of developing a clear rationale for each proposal given the likely resource cost, the challenges of potential misinterpretation of data given the early stages of the market as well as the lack of reporting standards to facilitate comparability and importance of differentiating between steps to make data available and the usability of that data.
The plans we set out are just a first step and over the coming years we will look to continually improve our own transparency as well as that of the market. We hope that this improved transparency will lead to increased learning and confidence in the social investment market and in the longer term enable a greater number of charities and social enterprises to benefit from access to repayable finance.