Chief Investment Officer Leah Nguyen on Creating Impact with InBC
We finally had the chance to sit down with Leah Nguyen, CIO at InBC, and ask about her formal education, professional experience and future vision for InBC. Here is a snapshot of what we uncovered about our inaugural Chief Investment Officer and some of the thinking that will inform InBC’s investment policy.
Leah’s entrance to the entrepreneurial ecosystem developed at a young age – as early as high school.
“I’ve always been interested in business and entrepreneurship. As a young child, I used to pretend to be a cashier, and in high school I managed the school store,” says Leah. “After finishing my business degree at Simon Fraser University, I started my career in management consulting at Accenture and eventually ended up at TELUS where I helped launch the TELUS Pollinator Fund, a $100M corporate impact fund that invests in startups that are doing good and driving financial returns.”
Now, with a variety of different career-building experiences under her belt, Leah is our Chief Investment Officer at InBC. Leah is tasked with defining the vision for our investment policy, which outlines what we will invest in, including impact themes and financial objectives. Once our investment policy is approved, her team will then be responsible for sourcing, evaluating and executing investments that align with our triple bottom line mandate.
InBC is an impact investment fund with a triple bottom line mandate, that focuses on valuing people, profit and planet as part of our decision-making process. Leah explains that this means going beyond the financial opportunity to also understand how a company will produce or provide positive social, economic and/or environmental impacts, where purpose and profit are not mutually exclusive.
“It is a common misconception that investing for impact means you’re willing to take concessionary returns,” Leah continues. “In 2020, the Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN) surveyed 1,720 investors and found that 67% look for risk-adjusted market returns, compared to 18% who were look for close to market rate returns, and only 15% were closer to capital preservation. Of these investors, 20% outperformed their returns expectations, and 68% with in line with expectations.”
In addition to the financial analysis of an investment decision, impact investing weighs both the positive and negative externalities associated with investments to assess risks and returns. Historically, one of the challenges has been how to quantify “impact”. However, now, there are a number of global frameworks and standards in place to evaluate this – such as UN Sustainable Development Goals, IMP’s Five Dimensions of Impact, and Global Impact Investing Network’s (GIIN) – which InBC can look to when evaluating its own investment returns.
When asked what inspires Leah and what ultimately led her to her impact investing career with InBC, she replies with “her family.”
“My parents were refugee immigrants from the Vietnam war, and came to Canada with nothing but the clothes on their back, my older sister, and a dream to create a better life for their family. They taught me the value of hard work, resiliency, and gratitude for my community. I recognize the immense opportunities they’ve provided me through their sacrifices, and I want to ensure that I am instilling the same values in my three young children and doing my part to create a better future for my community in the work that I do. I believe that capital can be a force for positive change and am grateful for the opportunity to bring my experience in impact investing to InBC.”