Over the last decade, impact investing—a targeted approach to investment in companies, organizations, and funds with the intention of generating social and/or environmental impacts alongside a financial return—has gained traction within the financial sector. Market surveys have shown steady growth in impact investing using multiple indicators, including assets under management, investor interest and activity, product availability across asset classes, and demand for impact investment. However, many of the opportunities remain accessible only to accredited and institutional investors.

Retail impact investment aims to make impact investment products available to the average individual investor. Driven by growing demand and shifting preferences among retail investor segments – including women and Millennials – there is increased interest in integrating social or environmental values within investment decisions. While several mainstream financial institutions are now developing custom strategies and products in this area, these have been limited in terms of their availability for the majority of retail investors.

As credit unions seek to provide their members with new products and strategies that generate social and environmental value, they are exploring the opportunities provided by impact investing. The Guidebook describes the relevant trends around retail impact investing, situates the opportunity for credit unions, describes six product examples from Canada and the US, and illustrates the product development roadmap for retail impact investment. The site also provides a set of Resources on impact investing trends, products, demand and performance.

The full Guidebook can be downloaded at ImpactInvesting.ca, and Purpose Capital and the Canadian Credit Union Association look forward to your feedback and suggestions, in order to catalyze the market for retail impact investing.