Editor's Note: This is the first in a series of articles.

Women leaders in sustainable finance are using their industry experience to incorporate two trends into their roles as investment advisors, asset managers, research analysts and financial services executives. One is the exponential growth in the use of non-financial data to drive investment performance and risk management. The second is educating the financial advisor community in the use of this data to create environmental, social and governance (ESG) investment impact on behalf of investors. 

The CEO of Arabesque, a global asset management firm using self-learning quant models said recently in Barron’s that 90 percent of the world’s data is only a couple of years old and perhaps 10 percent of all non-financial data related to corporate environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors is currently available for analytical use.

Colleen Denzler of First Affirmative Financial Network

What excites Colleen Denzler, who is CIO (designee) of First Affirmative Financial Network and President of the SRI Conference, about this burgeoning source of information on companies is the opportunity for the industry to find quantitative and qualitative balance. “Bringing these two ways of thinking will help investors and advisors understand the components of investing in SRI and how it benefits them,” she said. These collaborative firms were founded in 1988 and 1989, respectively. Both were purchased by FOLIOfn in 2016.

In October of 2017 Denzler assumed responsibility for the ongoing development of First Affirmative’s investment philosophy and strategies. Starting March 31, 2018, she will chair the firm’s investment committee. Denzler is also responsible for the agendas of the annual SRI Conference, which in 2017 hosted 800 financial professionals, and targeted regional conferences. The goal of the conferences is to grow the SRI community and educate advisors who either use SRI as the base of their practice or who are exploring how to add it to their services.


Prior to taking this dual management position, Denzler ran Colleen Denzler Strategy Partners LLC, a consulting firm, for three years from October 2014 to October 2017. This followed six years as global head of fixed income strategy for the Janus Capital Group. Her career also includes 10 years at Calvert Asset Management as a portfolio manager.

Pamela Jacobs of Envestnet Inc.Pamela Jacobs, executive managing director, impact investing, at Envestnet Inc. has been in investment management for over 30 years. Prior to developing her current position with Envestnet, she worked at Thomson Reuters in Hong Kong, was sales manager for more than 500 advisors at the SEI Investment Advisor Group and founded PJF Consulting LLC, a firm she managed for 15 years to provide strategic planning for multi-family offices, wealth managers and RIAs.

At Envestnet, Jacobs co-leads the impact investing businesses, focusing on product innovation and advisor education. “Impact investing has moved into the mainstream,” said Jacobs “and educating financial advisors about sustainable and impact investing is one of the biggest challenges we have in our industry.” Despite growing interest among advisors, she noted “many studies indicate that investors, and not advisors, are driving the growth of investment in impact and ESG portfolio strategies, particularly among women and millennials.”

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