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Thursday, October 29, 2015

Hobbs to Fundsters: Be the Bridge!

Reported by Neil Anderson, Managing Editor

Value and valuations are converging, and fundsters need to catch up before they're left behind. Doing good to do well is the name of the game.

Darby Hobbs
SOCIAL3
Founder, President
That was the central message today of Darby Hobbs of SOCIAL3, an alumnus of BBH and Fidelity. Hobbs delivered the luncheon keynote address at the 2015 NICSA GMM at the Hyatt Regency Boston. Hobbs offered fundsters statistics and brand examples about the growing importance of corporate social responsibility.

Hobbs started off by having some attendees identify nine things: their favorite food, their favorite person, their favorite space, what makes them feel happy, what makes them feel proud, what makes them feel fulfilled, what makes them feel loved, their favorite activity, and what they care about the most. People pointed to their kids, their families, their parents, their homes, their pets, the world, the environment, even beer and golf and pizza. Yet, as Hobbs pointed out, money and investments never came up. The message was that understanding that disconnect between monetary stuff and what people really value is key to 21st century business survival.

"We're seeing a new ecosystem where the heart and the mind and the wallet are coming together," Hobbs said. "Be the bridge. Think ... be ... and do differently."

Individual investors are increasingly looking for an individual impact plan defined by the three Ps, Hobbs said. Yes, performance is the first one, but the other two are personal choice and principles.

Hobbs pointed that by 2010, 80 percent of the drivers of the market valuations of S&P 500 companies was intangible assets. Yet financial services companies, she noted, routinely don't rank well when it comes to public trust, a key factor in those intangible assets. (And financial advisory and asset management companies rank even lower on trust, 46 percent compared to 50 percent for all financial services companies.) On the flip side, she noted, Fortune's recent list of the top 50 companies changing the world does include one mutual fund shop: Vanguard, at 22.

The "blurring of philanthropic and for profit", Hobbs said, means that the "investing DNA is changing." Millennials in particular, she added, want to work and invest in ways that are both financially rewarding and in line with their principles.

"The train's left the station," Hobbs said. "How do we tag into that?" 

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