Which investors are making a difference with their allocations? As part of our 50 Influencers list, we identify investors driving sustainability in private markets, either through bar-raising ESG requirements or game-changing investment decisions. This is part one of two; part two is available here.
Nick Abel, California State Teachers’ Retirement System
Nick Abel is co-manager of a 5 percent allocation to sustainable investments from CalSTRS’ $318 billion portfolio. This allocation has capacity for investments across the risk-return spectrum in pursuit of impact themes, including yield-generating, growth and venture opportunities. This means Abel has capacity to invest in the growing set of impact funds that bridge asset class boundaries, such as Just Climate’s industrial decarbonisation debut.
Michael Cappucci, Harvard Management Company
While many university endowments are reticent about their investments, Michael Cappucci, managing director of compliance and sustainable investing for Harvard University’s endowment, has been an outspoken advocate for both impact investing and ESG. As well as leading several impact fund commitments (Just Climate’s debut, Material Impact II), Cappucci has of late been calling on GPs to provide climate scenario analysis data to LPs.
Peter Cashion, California Public Employees’ Retirement System
Peter Cashion oversees one of the world’s biggest pension fund climate allocations: CalPERS has set a $100 billion investment target (more than 20 percent of its current $462.8 billion portfolio) for climate solutions by 2030. Cashion also leads the implementation of CalPERS’ groundbreaking climate strategy, which includes integrating physical and transitional climate risk assessments and scenario analyses into investment decisions. Cashion’s team will likely be the reason fund managers are compelled to produce and disclose this climate data in coming years.
Anna Follér, AP6
The Sixth Swedish International Pension Fund (AP6) invests exclusively in private equity and has a portfolio worth around $6 billion. As head of sustainability, Anna Follér has shaped the fund’s ESG strategy, which has seen it pressure mangers to take non-financial risks seriously, and overseen its entry into impact investing. Follér also plays a key role in shaping industry practices: she has chaired the PRI’s private equity advisory committee since 2022.
Cyril Gouiffès, European Investment Fund
Through its mandate to stimulate economic activity, the European Investment Fund is an important and influential investor in private markets. It is also, due in no small part to the work its head of social impact investments Cyril Gouiffès, a driving force behind the adoption of impact-linked carry. The LP has working with managers on tying their compensation to impact outcomes since as far back as 2014. While the practice is far from commonplace today, it is certainly part of the mainstream impact tool kit, with the likes of EQT, L Catterton and others adopting it.
Sultan Al Jaber, Altérra
The United Arab Emirates made clear its climate intentions when it announced green investment fund Altérra at COP 28. The platform has already committed $6 billion to climate funds, including the largest ever single LP commitment to an impact fund ($2 billion to Brookfield’s Global Transition Fund II), and has plans to mobilise $250 billion by 2030. Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, UAE minister of industry and COP 28 president, chairs the $30 billion programme.
Henrik Lundin and Willem Huidekoper, IMAS Foundation
IMAS Foundation, a €13.4 billion investment platform linked to the retail giant IKEA, has been pivoting its portfolio towards private markets, where it sees the best opportunity to create impact. It recently surpassed a target to make €1 billion of energy transition-related investments. Henrik Lundin, who at the start of the year stepped up to a joint CEO and CIO role was described by one impact GP as “personally passionate about impact and sustainability”. Willem Huidekoper, head of non-listed equities, will take on a broader remit to include a more holistic approach to sustainability across the whole portfolio.
Liqian Ma, Cambridge Associates
As head of sustainable and impact investing research at Cambridge Associates, Liqian Ma helps the firm’s extensive asset owner client base identify sustainable fund managers worthy of capital commitments. An active thought leader, Ma has published white papers on issues including racial equity investing and shareholder engagement. He also leads CA’s clean tech benchmark, which has analysed over 1500 investments to provide returns data on the space.
Liza McDonald, Aware Super
Liza McDonald heads responsible investment for a big investor with big plans. The A$160 billion ($107 billion; €98 billion) Aware Super has ambitions to grow to A$250 billion and last year opened its first office outside Australia to boost its European private markets investment activity: with the energy transition and affordable housing as two priority investment themes. McDonald sits on numerous industry working groups and committees.
Diane Mak, Matt Christensen and Patrick Peura, Allianz
The Allianz brand, through its different entities, is a pervasive presence in private markets. One GP backed by Allianz Global Investors described it as “almost single-handedly providing the gravitational pull on climate”. A number of individuals were put forward as having outsized influence on the market, including Diane Mak, head of impact strategy, and Matt Christensen, global head of sustainable and impact investing, both of Allianz Global Investors; and Patrick Peura, of Allianz Investment Management.
Angela Miller-May, Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund
Angela Miller-May, chief investment officer of IMRF, has long been a prominent advocate for diversity, equity and inclusion in money management – and has built a track record of backing diverse-owned managers. Between 2021 (the year she joined IMRF) and 2023, IMRF assets managed by diverse-owned firms have grown from 22 percent to 26 percent of IMRF’s total portfolio.