John Goldstein, Goldman Sachs

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ImpactAlpha, Apr. 24 – Goldman Sachs is among the many financial institutions trying to get out ahead of the COVID crisis with ‘social bonds’ and other forms of sustainable financing. The bank had a head start with its commitment last December of $750 billion, over 10 years, in financing for sustainable transportation, agriculture, ecosystem services and clean energy.

Goldstein helped champion that announcement as head of Goldman’s sustainable finance group, and this week said the bank has underwritten $18 billion in social bonds so far this year, with perhaps multiples of that coming to help fund COVID relief and recovery. 

Goldman Sachs’ new Sustainable Finance Group charts ESG rise to the C-suite

Goldstein is a crossover figure in impact investing as an industry pioneer – his Twitter handle is @impactinvestor – who went to Wall Street to make more, uh, impact. He was a co-founder of Imprint Capital, a boutique impact investing advisory that managed about $550 million when Goldman acquired it in 2015.

Now he is helping institutionalize impact and ESG investing (for environment, social and governance) across Goldman’s $1.5 trillion in assets under management.

Simply introducing ESG datasets into Goldman’s corporate credit underwriting can help move tens of billions of dollars, he says. The same with social bonds, which are following the same trajectory as green bonds, which accounted for $258 billion in issues last year.

“Today’s innovation becomes tomorrow’s mainstream, that’s the basic cycle,” Goldstein said this week. “Those early transactions take more time, take more effort, take more work…But once it’s in the toolkit, it’s in the toolkit.”

Goldman Sachs: Big investors press asset managers to integrate ‘ESG’ and impact across portfolios