Impact Investing and a Trip to the Vatican

April 2019 | ESG

I recently had the very good fortune of visiting Italy with my family during my kid’s spring break.  I had been to Italy once before – about 15 years ago – but this time was different for two main reasons.  The first reason is that I was going to see Italy through my daughters’ eyes.  They are nine and twelve – great ages for travel, and even more importantly, great ages to understand and learn about another culture, cuisine, and language.  The second reason is that on this trip to Italy, specifically my visit to the Vatican, I had a deeper appreciation and understanding of the Catholic religion given my experiences working at CCM over the last 14 years, where we have many Catholic clients who invest in our impact investing strategies and where I attend many Catholic conferences – speaking with and learning from the women religious and clergy.

I was super excited the day of our Vatican tour – it was a picture-perfect day and we had walked around Rome all morning, stopping for a quick lunch (pizza of course) before meeting our guide, Francesco.  I had booked a tour of the Vatican through a company for kids figuring that a guided tour catered toward kids would be the most interesting and engaging for my girls.  And it was!  Francesco was delightful and I could tell from the moment we met him that this tour was going to be educational and fun.

The Vatican is amazing and walking through the halls and seeing St. Peter’s Basilica and hearing about the history of the religion reminded me of my day job and why impact investing is so important.  From speaking with clients and attending faith-based conferences, I have learned about Catholic organization’s ministries, missions, and core values – all of which look to help those in need – whether through education, charity, and/or social justice.  In fact, many of the world’s religions—whether you’re Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, or Hindu—preach certain basic values that are cornerstones of the religion.  By engaging in impact investing, faith-based investors place capital in investments that focus on providing solutions to social or environmental issues – that are also in-line with their beliefs.  Just like the Catholic Church used brief summaries from its earliest days to describe an outline of its most essential beliefs.

As we entered the final part of our tour, Francesco brought us into St. Peter’s Basilica and I watched my girls stare up at the ceiling in awe.  It is truly magnificent.  We are not Catholic so seeing my kids’ interest for the religion in this profound place was inspiring.  We left the Basilica talking about faith and our beliefs.  Faith, at its core, is deep-rooted in the expectation of good things to come.  It again reminded me how this follows the ideals of impact investing – investments made with the intention to generate a measurable, beneficial societal impact.

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