One of the top financial advisors in the country (Barron's List) at one of the most prestigious Wall Street firms is having a hard time selling an impact investing program -- a program where more than half the downside is covered.
The unique impact investment is an exclusive offering targeted for accredited investors and is only being offered to select, uberwealthy clients of "president's club" advisors.
There aren't any commission issues as everything is being donated to the program's cause (which I will get to in a minute), and the projected return on investing beats any type of money market rate: between 4% and 5% annually.
An investment where more than half your risk is covered and has better upside than a Treasury - and you still can't sell it?
That was my question to the FA who was trying to hawk the program to clients old and new.
"Nope," he said. "They won't even fill out the application so I can send the [sales] materials." Investors in private equity offerings, as any good salesman knows, must meet certain Securities and Exchange Commission guidelines. Therefore they have to fill out an application of accreditation.
"Who are you soliciting?" I asked.
"Foundations whose mission is exactly this cause."
And the cause? Health care. The impact investment program as described to me by the FA on background-hence my inability to name names-would fund $100 million worth of programs in the developing world, from disease prevention to research, to building healthcare facilities. All good things, life-saving things. But how do you make money? That again was my question to the FA.
"Royalties and PDPs," he said. Royalties could stem from a pharmaceutical company acquiring any one of the patents borne from funded research and product development programs. PDPs are nonprofit organizations with scientific, technical, clinical development and policy expertise that manage and advance portfolios of global health products. (Yes, I had to look up that definition.)
Actually, that is quite a brilliant model and idea. Not only should this impact investment program garner investors, it should coax Big Pharma into the impact investment area. Remember the book and film, The Constant Gardner? Think that but in a good way.
The problem with the program, the FA told me, wasn't that it wasn't good, it was likely with his pitch: It was too smart, he thought. It took him too long to explain everything to prospects. So he was changing direction. He wasn't giving up, rather he is dumbing down.
The new pitch: "How would you like to get in on the next Viagra?..."
Oughta have an impact, for sure.
Let's hope the program gets funded.