In late October, I was invited to a meeting of the Institutional Investors Roundtable in Dublin as a special advisor. This is a half yearly meeting of some of the largest pension and sovereign wealth funds in the world, and is specifically oriented toward collaboration and sharing of best practice as it relates to private investments. As liability driven investors with very long liabilities that generally exceed 40 years, these institutions have a significant problem with finding adequately aligned service providers in the financial markets system.
A key consideration in the area of corporate development of such long term institutional investors is to continually advance the opportunities for long term investment. There has been an evolutionary path from the capital markets to private investing, through real property and infrastructure, to regional super investment. It is possible to imagine that a next step in this path could center on investing in economic development in emerging markets.
There are many myths and misconceptions about investing in emerging markets. Additionally, many institutions are not willing to consider any investment that is linked directly to economic development. And yet there is a great opportunity to access good risk adjusted returns from investments in these areas.
A possible innovation in this area is the development of a more integrated model for investing in emerging markets. This model is an expansion of the “life cycle” investment model that was pioneered by a few of us in the technology investing space. In that model, there is an anchor investor who undertakes to invest in a technology opportunity, starting at the benchtop and taking it all the way to market presence and market primacy. Along the way, that anchor investor engages an ecosystem of other kinds of funding partners and development partners to create a successful venture.
Through a series of thought experiments, I will start to see if there is a way to build an integration that brings together the various parties in the emerging markets ecosystem, from philanthropy, through official development aid, through civil society, and on to long term institutional investment. Let’s see where this goes…