Shami Nissan, Head of Responsible Investment at Actis, joins Alberto Lidji to discuss ESG investing from a practitioner’s perspective — exploring key questions and highlighting the latest trends.
We start off by delving into the differences in approach and expectations between traditional investing, ESG investing and impact investing. Today, the broad view is that it is perfectly viable to seek competitive, risk-adjusted returns, while pursuing best practice in ESG (environmental, social and governance). While, on the more philanthropic side of the spectrum, there are those who are happy to accept concessionary rates of return, trading off some financial return in favour of an improvement in social good.
We look at the Net Zero movement and decarbonisation. And, we explore some areas of contention among those who seek a net zero world. For instance, should one divest from fossil fuels immediately or could one have more leverage by staying engaged?
By divesting immediately, some argue that you lose your voice as an investor to help those firms transition into net zero. Within public equity companies, if one divests it simply means that someone else is buying these stocks, and you are arguably not making a real world impact, in the sense that the CO2 is still being emitted. Therefore, by engaging actively as an investor across all sectors (i.e. not just renewables) you continue to wield influence to try to change the strategic direction of firms, such that companies do the transitioning to net zero themselves.
In this episode we also look at the different tools and approaches available for ESG-minded investors in public and private equity markets. We explore how Actis works with their portfolio companies to help them improve on ESG and how they aim to unlock value during the time of ownership.
This episode explores a wide range of areas from an investment professional’s perspective. Please note you may also wish to listen to our previous interviews with Bob Moritz, Global Chairman of PwC, and Carmine Di Sibio, Global Chairman and CEO of EY, where we explore ESG and the move to standardising reporting frameworks globally.
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About Shami Nissan
With over 18 years’ experience in responsible investment, primarily serving the private equity, banking and development finance sectors, Shami was drawn to Actis by its leadership in responsible investing, the firm’s diverse culture and the opportunity to focus on growth markets.
Shami leads Actis’ approach to responsible investment and impact, working closely with investment colleagues and company management to assess and manage ESG issues, helping to build world-class businesses and to deliver measurable societal benefits. Shami is a member of the Actis Executive Committee, and Inclusion and Diversity Committee.
Before joining Actis in 2014 she was as a senior consultant at PwC’s Sustainability and Climate Change team for ten years. Prior to this, Shami led the London business of Innovest Strategic Value Advisors, providing sustainability research and analytics to institutional investors and asset managers.
Shami has also worked with the United Nations Development Programme in Central America. Shami is an Advisory Board member of the World Bank/IFC’s Operating Principles for Impact Management, and is a Trustee of Actis Acts, a registered charity focused on improving livelihoods in the emerging markets. Shami holds an MSc Environmental Technology, with Distinction, from Imperial College London and a BSc Biological Sciences from the University of Durham.