2015 PENSIONS FOR PURPOSE
As part of our twentieth anniversary celebrations this year, Resonance published a book of its journey since 2002 and many people and organisations that have been part of our story contributed.
Daniel met Karen Shackleton seven years ago, and as well as being the founder of Pensions for Purpose, she also serves as Chair of the Board of Resonance. Here Karen shares her recollections of their first meeting and the seven year relationship that followed.
It was like a light bulb switching on
I first met Daniel (and Peter Dawe) in a café opposite the Eurostar platforms in St. Pancras in 2015. Having recently stepped down as Chief Executive of an investment advisory company, I was looking to develop a non-executive portfolio. The moment I met Daniel and Peter, it was like a light bulb switching on. I hadn’t really heard about impact investment up to that point, but I realised this was completely aligned to my personal beliefs that investment capital could be used in a way which benefited society. I was immediately inspired to get involved with Resonance. It was the start of an amazing, educational, and catalytic personal journey.
I always say, it takes about three years to become a valuable and valued nonexecutive director. Those first three years saw me learning a lot about Resonance, meeting the wonderful and passionate team, and getting to grips with the board agenda items. By 2018, that learning process was beginning to peak, and the Board approved my appointment as Chair. I had always found the directors to be respectful and supportive of each other, so I was confident this was going to be an enjoyable and rewarding opportunity.
Improving the Board’s effectiveness
Daniel and I have worked closely since 2018 to try and improve the Board’s effectiveness. This has included taking detailed discussions from the main Board into new sub-groups which could report back to the Board. It allowed us to maintain a more strategic perspective as directors, and we improved this further by splitting the agenda items into “the past” (what’s gone on), “the present” (challenges that the team are facing) and “the future” (strategic opportunities to discuss). We continue to try and improve Board effectiveness: we are just about to introduce an agenda item that focuses on macro events that might impact Resonance, for example. I have always been keen that the executive directors find it beneficial to attend a board meeting, rather than something that just involves a lot of preparation but with little value in return, so every board paper now contains three questions that the executives would like to ask the non-execs.
In 2017, I launched Pensions for Purpose, a collaborative platform helping pension funds to make informed decisions about impact investment. This gave me an opportunity to engage with a broader universe of impact managers. It has been a good reminder of why I chose Resonance in 2015. The passion of team members, their focus on the impact being achieved, their authenticity, and of course, their twenty-year track record, all mean they continue to stand out as best in class.
I clearly remember listening to one of Resonance’s tenants talk at an event some years ago. Everyone in the room fell silent as the young woman talked candidly about the struggle of leaving an abusive relationship, homeless and vulnerable, sleeping at St. Pancras with a young baby, and then finding the charity St. Mungo’s, which then housed her in a Resonance flat. The impact of having a new, permanent home had allowed her to register for college and life had completely turned around for her. To me, that is what Resonance is about transforming lives, making a real and long-term difference to those that they help.
Delivering for investors and beneficiaries
But of course, it doesn’t stop there. As a pensions expert, I am equally focused on the investor perspective and a best-in-class impact manager needs to be able to deliver to both the investor and the beneficiary. The property funds team at Resonance, led by Simon Chisholm and John Williams, has worked hard to understand pension fund investors’ needs and so the funds have been developed in a way which is aligned to pension fund trustees’ fiduciary duties, delivering a competitive market-rate, risk-adjusted return combined with genuine social impact which transforms lives.
Leading the way
Resonance has led the way on so many occasions over the past twenty years: one of the first impact investment managers in the UK, the first to launch a Social Investment Tax Return (SITR) fund, quick to respond to the pandemic with a successful role in the government’s Social Enterprise Support Fund, and one of the first UK gender-lens focused managers with the launch of the Women In Safe Homes Fund. It makes me incredibly proud to be the Chair of Resonance.
In recent years, more and more asset managers have launched impact funds. Just seven asset managers supported the Pensions for Purpose platform in 2017 (including Resonance, of course). That has grown to 117 firms today… which shows just how crowded the impact investing space has become! Yet how many of these organisations can point to a twenty-year track record of impact investment? How many can point to investments that have delivered to the expected financial and impact goals several times over, during that time?
So where next?
As the focus on impact increases, as investors become more discerning, as social need in the UK grows, then Resonance will respond. We are already thinking about investing in impact in a more holistic way, bringing environmental impact into our property funds, for example. The Impact and Innovation team at Resonance continues to explore new opportunities, ways to address social need that has not yet been tackled effectively, and helping social enterprises become more effective.
But the final shout out must go to Daniel and the team at Resonance. Without Daniel’s leadership, without his vision, his creativity and his tenacity, Resonance would not be here today. Without the passionate and hard-working team supporting Daniel, with enthusiasm and commitment to the firm’s purpose, Resonance would not be the success that it is. Put a great leader and an amazing team into the mix, and Resonance emerges, twenty years on, still destined for even greater things to come.
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Resonance Limited is a company registered in England and Wales no. 04418625
Resonance Impact Investment Limited, a subsidiary of Resonance Limited, is authorized and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). Firm number 588462.
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