Women invest

Alison Pyott speaks about impact investing at a Northern New England Women’s Investor Network seminar Wednesday, April 17, 2019, in Portsmouth.

PORTSMOUTH — With women expected to control $22 trillion in personal wealth by 2020, female investors gathered on the Seacoast last week to explore the power of impact investing.

Alison Pyott, partner and senior wealth manager at Veris Wealth Partners in Portsmouth, started the conversation Wednesday by asking the group of about 45 women to think about social issues that are concerning to them. That could include forest fires, flooding, poverty, the refugee crisis or any other global challenge.

Pyott said there is not enough philanthropy in the world to tackle these problems, but there are ways to invest in companies working to solve them, and that means women can financially benefit from finding organizations which align with their core values.

Pyott said women are already investing money into the market, so they should ask themselves what that means.

“If you care about gender equality, do you invest in companies with all male boards?” Pyott asked. “If you care about climate change, do you have a company in your portfolio that has a large carbon footprint?”

Pyott said the US SIF Foundation estimates 26 percent of total dollars under professional management in the country is being used for sustainable, responsible and impact investments.

A group of panelists talked about their personal journeys as impact investors. Angel investor Barbara Clarke spoke about helping a product reach the market that stops postpartum hemorrhages.

“This is one of the products that will save the lives of women,” Clarke said.

Clarke said when she looks at potential investments, she thinks about women’s health and other issues that impact her gender collectively. Then she works with companies that have diversity in their ranks.

“There have to be lots of different types of people. It can’t be just one woman and a bunch of dudes,” Clarke said.

Janice St. Onge, president of Flexible Capital Fund in Vermont, spoke about her passion for slowing down the negative impacts of climate change and how it drives her investments.

“Everything in my mind is linked back to climate change,” St. Onge said. “Climate change impacts agriculture, it disproportionately affects gender equality.”

Panelists also discussed investing in companies that employ minorities, immigrants and help impoverished communities in Northern New England.

According to investforbetter.org, 70 percent of women are interested in impact investing, but only 15 percent are currently engaged in the practice.

Statistics show women spend 39 percent less time on investing activity than men and only 13 percent of women take responsibility for all household investments, according to the organization.

The seminar in Portsmouth was organized by Northern New England Women’s Investor Network. For more information, visit nnewin.org.{