The finance and investment system is the “control centre” of our unjust and unsustainable economic model. As a financial asset owner and investor as well as grant maker, we have several tools to influence and disrupt this system in order to advance our mission.
What is the purpose of this work?
This inquiry seeks to bring finance and investment practices into alignment with Lankelly Chase’s desired “system behaviours”. The first of these, ‘Perspective’, entails an acknowledgement that “we are part of an interconnected whole” with an interest in overall system health. Applied to investment, our objective is therefore to orient the system towards the holistic flourishing of people and planet. This requires a shift away from its prevailing short-termism, atomisation, and reductive prioritisation of individual financial performance and even singular sustainability goals.
Reflecting Lankelly’s two other “system behaviours”, the second objective of this inquiry is to rebalance power and participation in the investment system so that it is increasingly accountable to, even directed by, those whom it currently marginalises and harms.
What is currently happening?
As well as providing grant funding to partners aligned with these goals, we pursue them through our own capital stewardship practices. These include capital allocation decisions, investment mandates and manager relationships (you can read more about these on our Investments page), as well as directly influencing companies, policy-makers, and other market participants through engagement, thought-leadership, convening and collaboration.
Examples include filing and publicly supporting resolutions at company AGMs, convening an investor inquiry into critical perspectives on economic “growthism”, participating in the Deep Transitions Futures Global Investor Panel, and contributing to a reassessment of charitable investment norms.
We fund and collaborate with incredible partners who are disrupting and reimagining investment practices, including Barking and Dagenham Giving, The Good Ancestor Movement, r3.0, ShareAction, Ten Years’ Time, The Shareholder Commons, among others.
What are we learning?
The challenge is less to persuade ‘mainstream’ finance of the need for a sustainable and responsible approach to investment, but to contest and define what this actually means. Investment industry narratives about “doing well [financially] by doing good” are coming under growing scrutiny from regulators, clients, and civil society. We think this is necessary, since the priority for much ‘ESG’ or “sustainable” investment ultimately remains private financial profit rather than collective flourishing.
We are also concerned that efforts to reform the finance and investment system are failing to challenge – and often reinforce – many of the harmful norms and logic which currently underpin it, such as ‘shareholder primacy’ and limitless growth. It may be that some of these cannot be dismantled using an investor toolkit, and that we need to coordinate more systematically with economic justice movement actors focusing on work, tax, care and pensions systems.
What is next?
Our focus now is to learn about, support, and develop “movement-aligned capital strategies”, as described by the Centre for Economic Democracy in ‘Social Movement Investing’, to help realise Lankelly’s commitment to regenerative and reparative capital stewardship.