Climate Finance | April 29, 2019

Watching for an institutional shift at Michael Milken’s gathering of the finance tribe

David Bank
ImpactAlpha Editor

David Bank

ImpactAlpha, April 29 – The sheer volume of cable hits, headline tweets and boldface names can make it hard to parse the meaning the annual Milken Institute Global Conference, kicking off today in Beverly Hills. It’s usually best to Follow the Money and listen for what major asset owners themselves are saying. The institute’s Global Capital Markets Group represents $23 trillion in assets.

A global transformation is disrupting social and economic norms around the world,” says Richard Ditizio, the institute’s president. The programming is highlighting institutional peer pressure for proactive consideration of environmental, social and governance, or ESG, factors, he said. “Investors have a tool they can use to great advantage,” Ditizio told ImpactAlpha.

  • Gender-aware. Somebody got the memo. Citi is hositing an “Equality Lounge” with a roster of diversity programming by Female Quotient. Expect gentle (or not) ribbing for the lounge’s offerings of meditation, yoga, sound baths and puppies. Still, declarations from large asset owners declare, for example that they will screen their portfolios for gender equity, Ditizio says, “has the CEOs in the audience perking up.”
  • What climate emergency? In contrast to Milken’s passion for medical research and market-driven “shared prosperity,” the rising climate crisis merits only a handful of sessions and little high-level airtime. Drawdown’s Paul Hawken makes the business case for climate action in one of a series of essays for the conference.
  • Punctuated equilibrium. At least some of the 4,000 attendees are focused on demography and other megatrends to 2030, 2040 and beyond. Look out 20 years on the decline of oil and youth unemployment in the Middle East, a rapidly aging Japan and other countries, vast hordes of low-interest cash on the sidelines, a rapidly rising middle class in Southeast Asia and Africa, Ditizio suggests, and the opportunities for connecting capital supply and demand are massive.