Veris Partner Alison Pyott pays tribute to the life, work, and impact achieved by gender lens investing pioneer and catalyst at large Suzanne Biegel.

A Tribute to Suzanne Biegel

By Alison Pyott

This August 8th, I am called to celebrate gender lens investing pioneer Suzanne Biegel. This is a tribute to my fellow Leo, colleague, collaborator, and most of all, friend. Suzanne has long been a source of insight, mentorship, and inspiration to me and to so many of us across the global impact space.

I first met Suzanne at Criterion Convergence X: Investing with a Gender Lens in 2011. She brought her own cosmic energy to our diverse group of philanthropists, systems leaders, researchers, and financial professionals. She inspired us to do more to invest in women with our collective networks, expertise, and resources. Over the past twelve years, she has helped me and my fellow Verisians, including Patricia Farrar-Rivas, Luisamaria Carlile, Stephanie Cohn Rupp, and Roraj Pradhananga manifest our gender lens investing work at Veris. She has often served as a trusted sounding board and as primary source for our firm’s gender lens research and papers, including Bending the Arc of Finance

Astrologers refer to August 8th as the Lion’s Gate. According to Yoga Journal, it is “a mystical day, a culmination of cosmic alignments along with wisdom and beliefs passed down from ancient cultures” that embodies “enhanced awareness that lies beyond our usual perception.” It is considered by many to be an ideal day to set intentions and manifest what you want to bring into reality.¹ Like the energy of the Lion’s Gate, I believe Suzanne has awareness beyond usual perception. Her boundless energy shines bright. She uses this energy to challenge our thinking about what is possible, inspires us to unlock possibilities and potential, and she gets a lot of work done!

Suzanne’s intentions and energy have created, contributed to, and curated global networks of people investing in women and positive social and environmental change, including GenderSmart – now known as 2xGlobal. Through her work, Suzanne has influenced hundreds of funds and institutional investors and billions of dollars of capital to move with a gender lens.² She has nurtured and incubated so many initiatives that Suzanne is known as “catalyst at large.” ³

Heading for Change

In the summer of 2021, Suzanne was diagnosed with stage four metastatic lung cancer. While many of us would step back from our work, Suzanne’s energy shined brighter. After considering the legacy she wanted to leave, Suzanne and her husband Daniel Maskit established a donor-advised fund to make investments and grants that would advance both climate and biodiversity solutions and gender equity. The fund, Heading for Change, puts the insights Suzanne has gained through her investment career into practice on a larger scale, dedicating her legacy portfolio to catalytic investments that will help build the investment vehicles, businesses, and institutions the world needs to battle the climate crisis and build a more just and gender equitable world.

Suzanne and Daniel launched Heading for Change with a $1 million investment, and they seek to grow it exponentially with the help of hundreds of donor-partners who are driven to help build the ecosystem and generate investor demand for these kinds of investments more broadly. Suzanne has said that their aim is for Heading for Change to inspire other private investors to move their capital with a joint climate and gender lens.⁴ Suzanne and Daniel believe that these kinds of investments have the collective power to prevent the worst impacts of the climate crisis, and to scale the tools and services needed for mitigation, adaptation, and resilience in a gender-inclusive way.⁵

In true Suzanne fashion, Heading for Change continues to foster and build Suzanne’s global network of entrepreneurs, philanthropists, systems leaders, and investors. It invites collaboration, seeks intelligent innovation, and is designed to inspire others to act so that more pioneering, transformative ideas will succeed. I see Heading for Change as an ongoing spark of her life intentions and manifestations. For more information about Heading for Change and the different ways you can participate, visit

I admire Suzanne’s shining example to help others invest with social and environmental consciousness with elegance, enthusiasm, and intelligence. As we celebrate her today, my hope is Suzanne’s life continues to be an inspiration and guiding light.

Alison Pyott is a Senior Wealth Manager and Partner at Veris. She is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ and Certified Private Wealth Advisor® (CPWA®) professional.  The CPWA certification is an advanced professional education and certification program for advisors who serve high-net-worth clients. Alison formerly led the firm’s Women, Wealth, and Impact strategy, co-authoring several papers on gender lens investing including Gender Lens Investing: Bending the Arc of Finance for Women & Girls. Alison is on the Heading for Change Investment Committee. Read Alison Pyott’s full bio.




Veris Wealth Partners’ Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Task Force Case Study Published as Part of the JEDI Investing Toolkit

by Roraj Pradhananga, Partner – Senior Research Analyst

GenderSmart, a global field building initiative dedicated to unlocking the deployment of strategic, impactful gender-smart capital at scale, recently launched a Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (JEDI) toolkit. This JEDI toolkit is designed to encourage allocators, investors and intermediaries to understand the dimensions of JEDI investing and start applying gender and JEDI lenses throughout their investment processes.

The GenderSmart JEDI working group created the toolkit with the hope of improving investment decision-making, bringing on board new portfolio or fund managers, improving existing portfolios and enacting organization change for both people and processes. These goals are in line with Veris Wealth Partners’ vision, our firm’s emphasis on our Racial and Gender Equity theme, as well as the recommendations our own EDI taskforce – consisting of Patricia Farrar-Rivas, Jane Swan and myself –  have made over the last two years.

As part of the JEDI Toolkit, GenderSmart published a case study profiling the work of Veris Wealth Partners’ EDI Task Force. As Partner and Chair of our EDI Task Force, they asked me to describe our approach and I responded, “For Veris, EDI is not an exercise in box-checking. The financial services industry’s approach too often strives to increase diversity in management without sufficient consideration of embedded structural EDI obstacles. Black, Brown and Indigenous voices remain severely underrepresented across the financial services industry. To truly scale up impact and drive racial justice across the industry, a majority of firms will need to adopt an EDI approach that is similar or better than ours.”

How is Veris developing this EDI strategy and applying an EDI lens in investments?

Veris’ Investment Committee approved the EDI task force’s recommendations to significantly increase the number of EDI managers and managers with an explicit EDI lens in their investment process over the next five years. This requires us to be intentional in building our priority pipeline and due diligence and approval processes. We have approved funds with an EDI lens – including funds that focus on employee ownership and combine gender, race and community voices.

Veris’ EDI task force is mandated to assess existing investment practices, make recommendations on EDI goals and integrate EDI in our investment decisions. In 2020, we enhanced and amplified EDI elements throughout our due diligence questionnaire. This new data was instrumental in creating our EDI Manager framework and an Advancing Racial and Gender Equity (ARGE) assessment tool that classifies our approved managers in five different categories – from EDI watchlist (needs improvement) to EDI manager (best-in-class). The other categories are EDI aspirational, EDI firm and EDI investment process.

The ARGE tool measures diversity at all levels of the firm and assesses EDI lens of the investment process of the various fund managers. Pay equity, employee benefits, implementation of EDI policies, portfolio company engagement, shareholder proposals and disclosure of EDI proxy voting guidelines and records are among some of the reviewed data points.

Our next steps include engaging our fund managers, communicating best practices and helping them make improvements. We also performed a self-assessment using the ARGE tool and Veris is not yet an EDI manager. We are asking our non-EDI managers to join us on this transformation journey. Collecting data continues to be our biggest challenge. The success of our EDI approach is dependent on our managers’ willingness to engage, share data and implement changes themselves.

Veris Wealth Partners’ EDI Vision and Commitments

Veris is an impact wealth management firm with a vision to build a just, equitable and sustainable world and we believe equity (which is purposefully listed first), diversity and inclusion (EDI) must touch every aspect of our work. Veris strives to transform our firm and the industry in pursuit of this vision, such that along with this vision, mission and values, EDI is an integral part of our investment philosophy. Veris strongly believes EDI should be embedded firm-wide in every aspect: mission, vision, values, culture and policies (including hiring, retention, mentoring, promotion, and vendor/supplier selection). Our signatory commitments include Confluence Philanthropy’s Belonging Pledge, Due Diligence 2.0, Investor Statement of Solidarity & Call to Action to Address Systemic Racism and Women’s Empowerment Principles. Veris approaches commitments with great intention, evaluating internal changes required to ensure they are accountable.

Click here for a recording from the launch of the GenderSmart Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (JEDI) Investing Toolkit

Roraj Pradhananga is a Partner and Senior Research Analyst at Veris Wealth Partners. He leads the Investment Research team and is a voting member of the Investment Committee.

The information contained herein is provided for educational purposes only and is subject to change without notice.  

Women, Wealth & Impact: A Conversation with Ellen Remmer and Janine Firpo of Invest for Better

By Alison Pyott, CFP®, CPWA®

Growing the number of impact investors working to address the world’s most pressing problems has long been part of Veris Wealth Partners’ vision and mission. We wanted to highlight the efforts of Invest for Better, an organization founded by Ellen Remmer that is working to inspire women to harness the power of their money to create a better world through education, peer learning circles and community. Recently Ellen joined forces with Janine Firpo, author of Activate Your Money: Invest to Grow Your Wealth and Build a Better World, to expand their collective support for women investors. It has been wonderful to witness and support the success of this effort to empower women impact investors. I recently asked Ellen and Janine a few questions about Invest for Better and their approach to growing an impact movement focused on women.

Alison Pyott: Ellen, why did you start Invest for Better?

Ellen Remmer: I had personally gone through a challenging process as I became inspired to do values aligned investing. Through my day job, I was meeting others who were promoting impact investing and one of those people was Melanie Audette at Mission Investors Exchange. We brought a group together that cared about bringing values aligned investing to a broader audience with a specific focus on women.  This began as a project with amazing partners and shaping it was a collaborative effort. As the circle model took off, we needed to build capacity to make it bigger. Partnering with Janine has been a wonderful evolution.

Alison Pyott: Janine, what inspired you to write Activate Your Money?

Janine Firpo: In 1995 I quit my high-tech start-up job and went on a four and half month sub-Saharan journey. I was inspired to do more meaningful work and help solve some of the problems I saw in Africa. This started a career in international development. I was at a global philanthropy conference – everyone there was high net worth and institutions. That wasn’t me, but I wondered why can’t it be? Over the next 10 years of exploring how to invest all my money with impact, I discovered there were options for everyone. And yet, it was hard to get actionable information about how to align all my assets – even from my advisors. So, I wrote a book. I wanted it to be a resource for women learning alone, as well as in clubs. I’ve had great experiences in clubs. Learning in groups is powerful.

Alison Pyott: Why focus on women?

Janine Firpo: There were few finance books for women, except those focused on the basics. Those books did not include a discussion of our goals and values. Women don’t want to think about money from just our heads. We want to connect it to our goals and aspirations.

Ellen Remmer: The data was clear that women and millennials are interested in shopping and investing with purpose. In my philanthropic experience working with families and donors, women saw philanthropy as the way to create change but did not recognize the power of investments to support a social purpose. Women are curious, but the activation gap between interest and action was significant. The existing on-ramps were limited to angel investing. Nothing helped women look at all asset classes.

Alison Pyott: Do you feel women invest differently than men?

Janine Firpo: I think they do. Women want to take informed risks and understand the stories behind their investments.

Ellen Remmer: The data is confusing and not consistent. The message given to women is not about investing – it is focused on saving. Women often underestimate their knowledge and ability. We see this with investing. We’re socialized to underestimate our abilities. Learning circles help build confidence to ask the right questions.

Alison Pyott: Speaking of circles, what have been your results to date?

Ellen Remmer: We’ve been excited about the number of women we’ve reached. Since 2020, we have hosted 50 total circles with more than 500 women. We are really gratified by the results from our first cohort – 60% of the respondents moved their money to impact investing. They were poised to do it.  And 95% took some action – talking to a partner or changing advisors. Invest for Better has also inspired a variety of spin-offs (including) Jewish Women Invest and groups in Canada, Europe and Mexico.

Alison Pyott: Those are great outcomes. What do you think is the tipping point for women to go from interest in impact investing to action?

Janine Firpo: What I’m seeing is the gap disappears when there is education and community – when it is fun, engaging, and resonates.

Ellen Remmer: This is what is beautiful about our model. Women come curious and poised. They hear stories of other women and realize this is just about asking the right questions and they don’t have to be brilliant at everything. The circle gives you support and accountability to take action.

Alison Pyott: You both shared that you have faced obstacles on your journey to impact investing. What can other women do to overcome their obstacles?

Ellen Remmer: The first thing is to understand your obstacles. Sometimes you have to convince somebody else. Sometimes it is finding time. Or, not being able to find the resources because you don’t know where to start. Each obstacle requires a different solution. At Invest for Better we don’t assume everyone has the same obstacles, but we provide support to help them with their obstacles. Our resources include tips on how to talk to your partner or someone else in your financial world they need to get on board. Or, how to find the right advisor including a new partnership with Values Advisor. The circles provide support and accountability.

Alison Pyott: What do you feel is the role of financial advisors in supporting women impact investors? What do you feel is essential in that relationship? 

Janine Firpo: Listening and educating. Women want to be heard, recognized, and educated. We want to understand. We don’t want to be told. Don’t patronize me or make me feel less than. A great financial advisor should help me feel informed, empowered, and successful. I should know that I am investing in the things that I care about and achieving my financial return objectives.

Ellen Remmer: They are holistic in understanding their clients’ objectives. They listen to understand financial and personal goals so the person feels like they will find meaning and demonstrate impact. A good relationship is a learning journey together and not just about money. It’s experiences, engagement, and collaboration that is organic and natural. Women want advisors to help them understand more and expand their horizons. In the best relationship you continue to challenge each other.

Alison Pyott: What is your vision of success?

Ellen Remmer: Millions of women are engaged with their investments. They are at the table creating a more just and sustainable financial system. This is a way to engage women in shaping the capital markets for the future.

Janine Firpo: My hope is that values-aligned investing becomes a given. It is just how we invest. People will automatically consider the impact of their investments as part of the process, and they will recognize the importance of where their money flows. We’ll put more money into the things we care about; our communities, gender and social equity, and a more sustainable environment and economy. That’s my goal. I would love to see millions of women join this movement. Invest for Better is a catalyst to help more women be aware that their money matters and that they don’t have to go it alone.

Alison Pyott: What most excites in this moment for women impact investors?

Janine Firpo: I’m excited that so many women and young people want to invest their money in a meaningful way. This movement has real momentum.

Ellen Remmer: I’m excited about our new curriculum and alignment with Janine’s book. I’m really excited to see how impact investing is taking off right now – clients demanding solutions, new products accessible to investors, and educating a whole new population to keep us moving in the right direction.

Alison Pyott is a former Invest for Better Steering Committee Member and current Advisor to Northern New England Women’s Investor Network (NNEWIN).  She is a Partner and Senior Advisor at Veris Wealth Partners.


The Data Shows Gender Lens Investing is Growing. There is More Work To Do.

By Alison Pyott, CFP®, CPWA®

The flow of assets into Gender Lens Investing (GLI) continues to grow rapidly. According to a new analysis by Veris Wealth Partners, asset growth in public market separately managed accounts (SMAs) doubled over the last two years – from $500M to over $1B in assets among 18 products.

Total public equity and fixed income GLI funds accelerated to over $12B as of June 30th, 2021 based on Veris research and the work of Parallelle Finance. In Veris’ 2018 GLI analysis, we reported $2.4B invested in GLI public market products. In addition, Catalyst at Large and Wharton Social Impact Initiative recently released Project Sage 4.0 – a global scan of private equity, venture capital and private debt funds with a gender lens. Over 200 private GLI offerings have raised $6B. This puts combined GLI assets across public and private funds over $18B.

Racial Equity and Gender Lens

At Veris, we are also focused on equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) internally, across our investment managers, and through placement of capital. For our 2021 scan we asked fund sponsors if they were including a racial equity analysis as part of their strategy. Thirteen of the eighteen respondents said no or did not respond. Of those, one said they were considering inclusion. Others reported they have a separate strategy or an add on screen for racial equity. Some respondents mentioned the challenge in collecting racial equity data for their portfolios. Five managers reported they do include racial equity in their gender lens strategy.

Gender Diversity at Firm and Fund Levels

We also wanted to know if GLI fund sponsors were walking the talk. We collected information on gender diversity at firm and fund levels. Where applicable, most firms responded. Private firms that disclosed ownership had women ownership ranging between 20 – 100% with an average of 37%. Fund sponsors averaged 27% women board representation along with 27% women representation in senior management.

The Pandemic’s Impact on Women in The Workforce

While equity markets are robust and assets continue to flow into GLI products, it is becoming more apparent that philanthropy and investing alone will not create the outcomes we desire for women and their families. In the U.S., where we lack universal basic support for women and families, including family leave and affordable childcare, COVID is forcing many women to drop out of the workforce. According to research published by the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, women’s participation in the labor force has not returned to pre-pandemic levels and when motherhood, race, and ethnicity are incorporated the results are worse. The researchers found “larger increases in pandemic-era labor force exits among women living with children under age 6 and among lower-earning women living with school-age children after controlling for detailed job and demographic characteristics.” (Source)

Public Policy Work

When we started Veris in 2007, we often stated that government and philanthropy alone would not solve the world’s problems and that we needed capital markets and impact investment to create change. However, as Impact Investing has grown we have come to recognize that philanthropy and Impact Investing alone will not create change. Over the last few years Veris has shifted to become more involved in public policy.

In 2021 we partnered with the PL+US (Paid Leave for the United States) initiative to campaign for a national paid family and medical leave policy by 2022. We have also experienced firsthand the patchwork of state level benefits and adjusted our family leave policy to fairly benefit all Veris employees across the country. We feel that a paid family leave program for all employees and more accessible and affordable childcare is essential for families and economies.

The Past and Future of GLI

In 2009 the term “gender lens investing” was created. In 2014 Veris published its first scan of gender lens investments. At that time assets totaled $100M. In just a few years we have seen explosive interest in gender lens investing, product, and asset growth. We can celebrate these achievements, but it is clear there is more work to do.


This research would not be possible without Edward Fisher, Tracy Lynch, and Mihir Mehan. We are also grateful to Suzanne Biegel, Catalyst at Large and Co-Producer, GenderSmart Investing Summit for her generous collaboration, and Diana van Maasdijk, Equileap for her support.

Thank you also to the companies who provided their time and information:

  • Aperio Group
  • Bank of America
  • Breckinridge Capital Advisors
  • BNY Mellon
  • Envestnet® PMC™
  • Fulcrum Capital
  • Glenmede
  • Green Alpha
  • Impax Asset Management
  • Invesco
  • Lazard Asset Management
  • Parametric
  • Prometheus Capital
  • Nia Impact Capital
  • Reflection Asset Management
  • Rothschild & Co
  • ThirtyNorth Investments, LLC
  • Anonymous

Alison Pyott is a Partner and Senior Advisor with Veris. She is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ and Certified Private Wealth Advisor® (CPWA®) professional.

There is a Strong Business Case for Racial Equity, But Investors Must Look Beyond the Data

By Stephanie Cohn Rupp

George Floyd was murdered by a white police officer on May 25th, 2020–just a few days before the anniversary of the Tulsa Massacre on June 1st. On that day in 1921 a white mob attacked, burned and bombed Tulsa’s Greenwood District; a thriving Black business area known as Black Wall Street. Hundreds of Black Tulsans were murdered and over thirty-five city blocks of homes and businesses were destroyed. Overnight, one of the most prosperous Black communities in the nation was reduced to ash and rubble.

In May of 2021 Viola Fletcher, a 107-year-old survivor of the Tulsa Massacre, testified before a Congressional House Judiciary Subcommittee about how this act of racially-driven violence and destruction has haunted her throughout her long life. “I have lived through the Massacre every day,” she said. “Our country may forget this history, but I cannot. I will not.”1 In the same testimony, Viola Fletcher also shared details of how racially-driven economic oppression has impacted her daily existence. “Most of my life I was a domestic worker serving white families,” she said. “I never made much money. To this day I can barely afford my everyday needs.”2

The congressional testimony of Viola Fletcher, and the confluence of these two horrific anniversaries, the death of George Floyd and the Tulsa Massacre, reminds us how much work we have left to do to dismantle systemic white supremacy in our society and our economy in the United States.

What can investors do to advance racial equity?

I recently participated in an investor dialogue hosted by RFK Human Rights focused on the question “One year after the tragic murder of George Floyd, how can leaders in finance move from talk to concrete actions in their hiring practices, compensation equality, asset allocation, and leadership diversity from a racial equality standpoint?”

I recommend watching the full conversation here, but I thought I would share a few reflections.

Sancia Dalley, Senior Vice President at RFK Human Rights, started off our conversation by citing statistics about the state of the racial wealth gap in this country:

  • Research from the Federal Reserve Bank at St. Louis showed that between 1992 and 2016 college-educated white Americans saw their wealth increase by 96% while college-educated Black Americans saw their wealth fall by 10%.3
  • The Brookings Institute found that the net worth of a typical white family in the United States is 10 times greater than the average net worth of a Black family.4
  • Only 44% of Black households own their homes compared to 73.7% of white families.5

There is arguably greater awareness and more conversation about these statistics and about racial inequality in this country than ever before. But how much of this talk is being backed up by action?

After the death of George Floyd, there was an outpouring of commitments to racial justice from corporates and investors. At the RFK dialogue, panelist Olivia Knight, who is the Racial Justice Initiative Manager at As You Sow, shared that after Floyd’s murder her organization began keeping a racial justice scorecard to measure the actual progress made by S&P 500 companies on racial justice issues. As of March of 2021, As You Sow found that a significant portion of the S&P 500 scored zeros across all of their KPIs. They also found that only 36% of companies had actually given financial support to racial justice causes, much lower than the percentage that made public statements pledging that very support.6

This data indicates that too many public commitments to racial equity and racial justice amount to impact washing–it is more a marketing tactic than an authentic, action-backed commitment to change. To ensure authenticity we must look beyond public statements and seek action and accountability. We must look to see who is in leadership. Is racial equity evidenced in the C-suite or in the boardroom of these corporations? Is pay equity addressed at all levels of the firm? Unfortunately, not a lot has changed on that front.

We, as investors, must demand change and put our dollars into companies that are showing their commitment to building racial and gender equity and dismantling white supremacy. We can use shareholder advocacy to move companies toward action. We can invest in Community Development Finance Institutions (CDFIs) that drive capital and build wealth in Black communities by supporting Black-Owned businesses. According to a CDFI expert at Opportunity Finance Network, Amir Kirkwood, demand for financing of Black-owned businesses in the US outweighs supply of capital by five-fold. We can insist that justice, equity, diversity and inclusion are made a standard part of the due diligence process and that we not shy away from investing in CDFIs – not as philanthropy but as an intrinsic part of the investment portfolio. Our firm can attest that authentic EDI investing is achievable. As a manager of managers, Veris aims to select best in class managers across asset classes and sub-asset classes and we seek to weave justice, equity, diversity and inclusion throughout our due diligence process.

Going beyond the business case for racial equity.

We can offer plenty of data from economists showing that diverse teams outperform homogeneous teams – as diversity of thought yields better risk mitigation and more holistic problem solving. But we need to go beyond proving that diverse teams outperform the market to actually invest in this way. Cynics will always find counter-examples, or make the case that there is insufficient data, in private markets especially, or that we do not have enough business cycles to prove our case. I feel strongly that we should not need to make an economic argument because we do not need a business or economic argument to end human trafficking and slavery. This horrific system was and remains economically beneficial to the few who perpetrate it. So, when a financial professional or fiduciary in the industry asks for the economic benefit or business argument for EDI investing, I reply by asking in return “economic benefit for whom?”

In terms of macro-economic data, there is a huge opportunity cost of racial discrimination. Lack of investment in Black entrepreneurs and communities through business lending, consumer lending and mortgage finance means that the United States loses trillions of dollars of GDP.  A 2020 study from Citigroup found that the U.S. economy lost $16T over the past 20 years because of discriminatory policies surrounding Black wages, education, housing and investments.7 That is a huge opportunity cost, not only for investors, but for the whole economy in this country.

If you’re an investor and you want to back the future of the United States, we believe you need to be growing economic wealth that touches all communities. Investing in all communities helps us avoid this growing wealth gap and wellness gap for the benefit of all of us. This universal approach to wealth creation also will have political ramifications and enable us to become a truer democracy – with power to “all people.” It requires taking a longer-term view as an investor.

All that being said, I believe we have to look beyond both short term and long-term data. There are certain decisions that need to be made simply because they are the right thing to do. We must invest in underrepresented and historically marginalized communities because we care about all of humanity. We should invest in all communities because we believe that, as the late social entrepreneur Leila Janah once said, “talent is distributed evenly, but opportunity is not.”

We cannot undo what was done to George Floyd, Viola Fletcher, the untold numbers of Black Tulsans whose lives and livelihoods were lost and destroyed in June of 1920. But we as investors can put our efforts and our capital towards building an equitable future in which safety, health, opportunity and wealth are equally distributed across all communities in America – without having to necessarily make a business case for doing so. This should be an intrinsic part of our mandate as impact investors, in how we invest and how we operate.









The foregoing reflects the opinions and views of the authors.  All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the authors as of the date of publication. There is no guarantee that the views and opinions expressed herein will come to pass. Additionally, this document contains information derived from third party sources.  Although we believe these third-party sources to be reliable, we make no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information derived from such third-party sources and take no responsibility therefore.

Standing For Racial Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion

Standing For Racial Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion

By Patricia Farrar-Rivas

All of us at Veris stand in solidarity with the family of George Floyd, and the many others who have been a victim of police brutality and injustice.

The moment is upon us to realize, once again, that racial injustice isn’t an isolated event. It’s a systemic problem deeply embedded in all aspects of our society, and it is tearing us all apart.

Despite many concerted efforts to foster change, racism and inequality remain the status quo in most cities in America. When another tragic death takes place at the hands of police, we’re reminded how unequally we are treated based on the color of our skin, sexual orientation, gender, disabilities or religious preferences.

We stand with demonstrators across the country who are speaking out against racism.  And we stand by those who believe we must act now. We cannot wait any longer. Our historical behaviors and policies are no longer acceptable. 

Toward A More Just and Equitable Society

What does this mean for each of us?

It means combating racism and inequality in all forms in our personal lives and in our work. It means calling out injustice, leading by example in our communities, and raising awareness about the issues that need to be discussed openly.

At Veris, this means looking at all of our internal and external practices to identify and disrupt implicit biases. It demands that we work within our industry to maintain the commitment to racial justice, and equality at the forefront.

It also means providing financial support to organizations who can make a difference now. We’ve chosen four: Movement for Black Lives, MVP (Movement Voters Project), Equal Justice Initiative, Color of Change, Minnesota Freedom Fund, and NAACP. There are many others that deserve your support, and we urge you to give to the organizations of your choice.

Now is the time for all of us to unite and create a more just, equal and equitable society.

Gender Lens Investing: Assets Grow To More Than $3.4 Billion

Gender Lens Investing: Assets Grow To More Than $3.4 Billion

Growth In Public Products Accelerates As GLI Marks 10th Anniversary 

By Patricia Farrar-Rivas and Alison Pyott

The flow of assets in Gender Lens Investing (GLI) continues to grow rapidly.

According to a new analysis by Veris Wealth Partners, asset growth in GLI products accelerated and totaled $3.4 billion as of June 30, 2019. In our 2018 GLI analysis, we reported $2.4 billion invested in GLI products.

As important, the size of the funds continued to grow, reflecting their growing popularity among individual and institutional investors. There were 10 investment products with over $100 million and six with over $250 million as of June 30, 2019.

Our analysis also showed that the gender lens market is still primarily a North American phenomenon and that the investment focus continues to be global and US large cap equities. However, there are now eight funds open in Asia/Pacific, two funds in South America and one in Africa.

Ten years after the term Gender Lens Investing was coined by the Criterion Institute, there are now more than 50 publicly available GLI products, a 300% increase since 2015.

The GLI Impact
The growth of GLI investments continues, but the real question is how is GLI improving the lives of women and girls?

The good news is that GLI is having a real impact.

More than 50% of public GLI investment products focus predominately on women in leadership and increasing gender diversity, according to Veris. This is defined differently with each product strategy, but most often is women on boards, women in the C-suite, and women in management. The focus on leadership, coupled with increasing shareholder advocacy efforts to increase board diversity, have helped. In 2009, women comprised 16% of S&P500 boards, and today they represent 26%1. Progress, yet still a lot more work to do.

The Business Case of GLI
We believe this trend is likely to continue because there’s a very compelling business case for GLI.

McKinsey & Company’s Power of Parity Report (2015) estimates global annual Gross Domestic Product (GDP) could be $12 trillion higher if gender inequality was addressed. Diversity also produces terrific results. Over the past decade, many studies have confirmed the superior financial performance of public companies with strong female representation at the board level and in senior management.

The positive impact of GLI goes beyond greater representation at the leadership level.

Research now shows connections between higher proportions of women in leadership with increased environmental, social and governance performance.2

Investors are also looking for broader impact and product sponsors are starting to take notice.

More than 20% of public GLI investment products focus on broader gender factors, according to Veris. They include reducing the gender pay gap; increasing women in the workforce; lowering barriers to women working outside of the home; improving health and well-being; increasing employee engagement; and expanding products and services serving women.

And, a handful of funds are incorporating UNSDG goals including UNSDG #5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.

Another significant area of asset growth has been providing access to capital for women in girls. Capital flows to those initiatives are typically made by angel, venture and private equity investors. In the public markets, access to capital for women is provided primarily through CDs, CRA qualified bonds and the growing number of gender bonds.

Just the Beginning
Clearly, there is much to celebrate as GLI marks its 10th anniversary.

The brave women who dared to ask if capital markets could improve the lives of women and girls have started a movement that is increasingly gaining momentum. From a handful of investment strategies with only one CD and one mutual fund, there is now an expanding number of stakeholders who believe in the possibilities of Gender Lens Investing.

The goal for all of us is to keep pushing and demonstrating the value of GLI to an expanding universe of investors for the benefit of all.

The Veris team is especially grateful to Suzanne Biegel, Catalyst at Large and Co-Producer, GenderSmart Investing Summit for her generous collaboration, and Diana van Maasdijk, Equileap. 

12019 U.S Spencer Stuart Board Index Highlights
2Cristina Banaham and Gavrial Hasson, “Across the Board Improvements: Gender Diversity and ESG Performance” Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance and Financial Regulation, September 6, 2018

The information contained herein is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as the provision of personalized investment advice, or an offer to sell or the solicitation of any offer to buy any securities. Rather, the contents including, without limitation, any forecasts and projections,  simply reflect the opinions and views of the authors. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the authors as of the date of publication and are subject to change without notice. There is no guarantee that the views and opinions expressed herein will come to pass.

Furthermore, the information contained herein contains certain forward-looking statements, often characterized by words such as “believes,” “anticipates,” “plans,” “expects,” “projects,” and other similar words, that indicate future possibilities. Due to known and unknown risks, other uncertainties and factors, actual results may differ materially from the expectations portrayed in such forward-looking statements. Readers are cautioned not to place undue reliance on forward-looking statements, which speak only as of the date of this report. 

Additionally, this document contains information derived from third party sources.  Although we believe these third party sources to be reliable, Veris Wealth Partners makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information derived from such third-party sources and takes no responsibility therefore. 

Past performance is not an indication or guarantee of future results. Investing in securities involves risks, including the potential loss of all amounts invested.

Gender Lens Investing: 2018 Is A Watershed Moment

By Patricia Farrar-Rivas, Alison Pyott, Luisamaria Ruiz Carlile

Linda Pei had a vision. In 1993, she launched the Women’s Equity Mutual Fund, the first U.S. fund investing in companies with positive track records ofhiring, promoting and generously compensating women.

Her fund marked the birth of “gender lens investing” (GLI), which is founded on the premise that investing intentionally for gender balance and equity can generate both financial and social returns.

For decades, however, there wasn’t much progress. Over the next 20 years, only four new strategies emerged explicitly incorporating gender into their financial analysis of publicly traded securities.

GLI Blossoms
Fast forward to 2018. Over the past 12 months, we’ve seen more growth in GLI in a single year than we have in the past two decades.

As of June 30th, 2018, investors had poured $2.4 billion into 35 GLI vehicles holding publicly traded securities, according to the 2017 Gender Lens Investing report from Veris.

This is a 23-fold increase from $100 million just four years ago.

These investment vehicles range from U.S. and Canadian ETFs, to French and Nigerian mutual funds, to Australian ‘gender equality bonds.’

Click here to download Gender Lens Investing: Bending the Arc of Finance for Women and Girls.

Fully Diversified GLI Portfolios
As the number of GLI vehicles has increased, investors have begun making the leap from investing in single products to constructing entire, fully diversified GLI portfolios with clear missions.

Our 2018 report highlights three of these portfolios, each tackling distinct social issues: gender-based violence, women’s chronic under-representation in leadership, and the need for innovation in women’s health care.

This week, Alison Pyott and Luisamaria Ruiz Carlile of Veris will be sharing this research at theGender-Smart Investing Summit, taking place in London on November 1-2. The goal of the summit, expected to attract 300 champions of GLI, is “moving gender-smart capital with vision and velocity.”

Linda Pei would be proud that her vision endured.

Even greater would be her delight at the accelerating flow of capital into public market GLI products: the first $1 billion took 25 years. The second $1 billion took 12 months. How long to $100 billion? The first $1 trillion?

Racial Parity In America

Racial Parity in America: Making Progress, But Still A Long Way To Go

By Patricia Farrar-Rivas, CEO

At the recent Confluence Philanthropy’s Practitioners Gathering, I couldn’t help but notice the growth of interest and attendance in the panels with a racial equity focus.

At the 2016 event, the racial equity panel I attended barely attracted 10 people. This year, there were two back-to-back racial equity panels, and the rooms were packed.

I left the conference more emboldened than I have been in a while.

The reason for my optimism is that people of color attending the event, as well as some allies, brought the root issues of racial equity and equality to the impact investing conversation. There was more frank discussion about the topic than I had ever heard at a gathering of impact investors.

Thinking Bigger
We have so many urgent and entrenched social and environmental issues to solve, while climate change is breathing down our neck. They not only include racial equality and equity, but also gender equality and equity, workplace and domestic violence, mass incarceration, gun violence, access to both primary and secondary education, plastics in ocean, lead in our homes and schools, access to healthcare, to name just a few.

All of these issues are important, and we cannot solve any of them on their own. We can’t take a siloed approach. We must raise them all with the same level of intention. They are all symptoms of economic systems built on flawed constructs of race, gender, class and entitlement.

So, I am also very encouraged to see more impact investing funds founded and managed by women and people of color. Today, the diversity of those who currently control and influence capital allocations simply don’t reflect the full breadth of our gender or racial demographics. The key to solving our multitude of issues is democratizing the flow of capital. Changing whose hands are on the levers may be just what we need to benefit people and planet.

Changing the Conversation
Over the years, impact investing gatherings like Confluence Philanthropy have attracted those seeking to change the impact of capital flows and who controls the powerful levers of money. There are an increasing number of diverse voices in the conversation.

Big Path Capital, for example, has put on a number of regional diversity conferences, including the Impact Capitalism Summit, to highlight multiple diverse fund managers. The quality and number of funds available they have showcased has been truly impressive.

What’s also evident is that the growing awareness of gender lens investing has opened the door to candid dialogue about racial equality and equity.

In the past year, gender lens investing has moved into the mainstream. It now has a seat at the table with other major issues for women, such as access to healthcare, control of reproductive rights, freedom from sexual harassment, among others. Racial equality and equity should have a seat at the table, too.

It takes work to recognize and reverse established biases, both personally and culturally. We need to be supportive as we forge ahead, but we also have to keep pushing. There hasn’t been nearly enough progress.

We are at an opportune moment to listen and to flip the conversation on its head. Low-income people, people of color, women and girls and our planet have de-risked investments to their own detriment for too long. Yes, time’s up. If change is to come, we must all work together to make sure we seize this moment.

Investing with a Gender Lens

On March 5th, Veris Wealth Partners and Criterion Institute hosted the webinar Women, Wealth and Impact: Investing with a Gender Lens. Increasingly individuals, families and foundations are exploring how to use their consumer dollars, philanthropy and now their investment portfolios to address gender inequality.  This webinar outlines several easy steps to shift your investments to support and empower women.

The program starts with Joy Anderson, President and Founder of Criterion Institute interviewing Patricia Farrar-Rivas, CEO of Veris Wealth Partners. Together they explore the webinar’s big take-away — moving beyond the ‘why’ and into the ‘how’ of investing to support women. This is followed by a short presentation and Q&A led by Luisamaria Ruiz Carlile and Alison Pyott, both Certified Financial Planners and Wealth Managers at Veris Wealth Partners based on their recently published thought piece Women, Wealth and Impact: Investing with a Gender Lens.  This paper explores the business case for gender lens investing, but more importantly provides tangible steps you can take to increase gender equality with your investment portfolio.

Watch the webinar

Presented by: Criterion Institute & Veris Wealth Partners