There is a fundamental change in the investment world starting to happen that will alter financial markets, says Edwin Backes, the chairman of PYM. “We founded PYM to help speed up the shift towards responsible and impact investing in the Benelux.”
“The hockey stick growth curve is taking off”, says Edwin Backes, chair of PYM, the conscious investors’ community, without a doubt. “The undercurrent in the financial markets is changing.”
“For a long time, impact investing used to be a bit of a romantic idea, but investing will fundamentally change. Eventually, sustainable investing will become the norm. That is the conclusion after visiting many impact investing conferences and conversations with private bankers”, Edwin says.
“This reinforces my belief, this is a perfect time to launch PYM and that we really have to grab the momentum of the fast-growing interest in impact and sustainable investing. A private banker recently told me that just three years ago 90% of his clients weren’t interested in sustainable and impact investing. Now 50% of his clients want to learn more about it. There is an enormous mental shift taking place.”
From the Impact Days conference to the independent foundation PYM
The founders of PYM were the drivers behind the organization of the last Impact Days conference that used to be the main annual event of Pymwymic, the Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is Community.
“It was unintended, but as we were preparing this conference, we realized that despite the efforts to grow the number of impact investors over the many years, the number of impact investors remained more or less the same - around two hundred”, says Edwin. “We asked ourselves how we could grow the community of impact investors in the Benelux.”
“Pymwymic developed into an impact fund and in our view, you need an independent organization to be able to grow fast. And that is our ambition”, he says. There are 115,000 wealth owners in the Netherlands who have at least € 3 million in investable assets. “We should be able to reach many more of them and inspire them to invest consciously.”
The community to partner with in new ways
One of the ways PYM is planning to grow quickly is by partnering with leading impact funds and wealth managers. Through each advisor, PYM can reach 30 to 100 families. “We turn around the relationship with wealth advisors, some of whom are our Trusted Partners. We ask what we, as wealth owners, can do for them.”
How? For example, he says, we can have sessions with them to share our experience and lessons learned to grow their understanding of impact investing or we could meet a client with them to illustrate with our stories from the field what impact investing really is. “We are a community of wealth owners with the intention of investing for good.”
Speeding up your impact investment journey
It was a young entrepreneur in his twenties who directed him towards impact investing some six years ago. Edwin recalls him saying: “Your baby-boom generation ‘destroyed’ the planet and now my generation can fix it.”
“It has taken me a couple of years to find my way, to understand the possibilities and who is doing what. We want to speed up that journey for starting impact investors to two months. We have a growing team of Trusted Peers who are experienced investors with specific expertise. New members of our community can talk to them and meet other investors at our events. Our team has knowledge and network within the sector so we can connect them with the right people and organizations.”
Just before this interview, he listened to another webinar, on impact measurement. “Harmonization of the many different methods will be a real gamechanger”, Edwin says. He attends at least one or two impact investing events a week. Some of his fellow board and team members take part in even more conferences every week.
There’s a myriad of conferences and content being produced about impact investing. PYM doesn’t want to reinvent the wheel nor does it want to promote certain investments. “There is no comparable organization in the Benelux,” says Edwin. “We are independent - that’s why we are a foundation. We do not have an investment agenda. We want to inspire wealth owners and PYM to be a leading light in people’s journey to be a conscious investor.”