Financial advisors take note: your impact investing offerings will soon define whether you are ahead of the curve or whether you will be trying to catch up in years to come. JP Morgan’s recent Perspectives on Progress report, released in partnership with the Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN), found that impact investing among the fund managers interviewed will grow 12.5 percent to reach $9 billion in 2013.

But it’s just the sector’s expected growth that’s important, it’s how the shifting mindset of clients is already changing the landscape for financial advisors.

Last year’s Gateways to Impact survey of financial advisors found that nearly half of them already have clients engaged in sustainable investing, while 72% of advisors expressed interest in recommending sustainable investments to their clients.

"We've seen firsthand the growing interest in investments that have both financial and social ROI,” says Kathy Leonard, a financial advisor with UBS Financial Services and head of the Boulder, Colo.-based Leonard Social Investment Group,. “Impact investing has emerged as the dominant global trend that will drive future financial market opportunities." 

While the term "impact investing" is relatively new, it’s based on more than 40 years of evolution in socially responsible investing. Impact investments are investments made into organizations and funds that generate measurable social and environmental impact as well as financial returns.

Going beyond the definition, impact investing is about investor intention to create real and measurable positive outcomes for the world. As individuals seek “blended value” investment options that combine economic and social value creation, and as fund managers develop track records that support the claim of a range of positive outcomes including––but not limited to––market rate returns, impact investing is poised to attract significant capital going forward.

To successfully direct a portfolio of investments to achieve its full potential, investors must do two things:

• First, they and their wealth managers must reconceive the overall investment strategy to allow for consideration of more than just financial performance.

• Second, investors need a more comprehensive understanding of, and access to, the array of investment instruments available to them to construct their portfolios.

For financial advisors who are ready to incorporate impact investing, here are some tactical ways to get started:

Become more knowledgeable about the field. Several resources are readily available, including:

The Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing the scale and effectiveness of impact investing. Their website includes an online impact investing resource center that features research, news clippings, events, useful links, and GIIN publications about impact investing.

• The ImpactAssets 50 is a screened roster of private debt and equity fund managers offering impact investment strategies across a variety of asset classes, issue areas, and geographic areas. The IA 50 is available online at www.impactassets.org and focuses on filtering for track record and commitment to impact investing at the firm level and is a starting place for investors and their advisors who are looking for credible firms across thematic areas of impact investing.

• Impact Investing: Transforming How We Make Money While Making a Difference, co-authored by Jed Emerson and Antony Bugg-Levine, is the first book on the topic of impact investing and charts the growth of the field while explaining the “blended value” proposition for investors, funders, and entrepreneurs.

Know what is available to your clients: