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Bankers without Boundaries Talk Series – Kelly Clark | Laudes Foundation

Jennifer Faust, Managing Director, hosted the latest event in the BwB Talk Series, where we bring innovative leaders in impact, finance, and the environment to speak with our network around the world. The BwB Talk Series helps generate new ideas for our network by bringing experts to share their deep knowledge of sustainability topics.

We recently enjoyed a presentation and discussion from Kelly Clark, Director of Finance and Capital Markets at Laudes Foundation. Kelly began her rich and varied career as a banker, working for both Merrill Lynch and UBS. She then began working for a family office, where she established an impact investing fund. Finally, Kelly moved into the philanthropic capital space – she is now a director at Laudes Foundation. Kelly’s career has been driven by her strong belief in the potential for finance and capital markets to facilitate systemic transformations.

Laudes Foundation was launched in 2020 – its mission and purpose is to respond to the dual crises of inequality and climate change, by supporting innovative efforts to challenge and inspire industry to harness its power and potential for good. Laudes Foundation provide their partners with philanthropic capital, expertise and connections, working across sectors, and influencing finance and capital markets to move towards a new economy that values all people and nature. Some of the key takeaways from the talk were:

  1. We are at a crisis point: climate change; the energy crisis; food shortages; a global recession; rising interest rates; rising inequality; increased geopolitical instability; a worsening refugee crisis; and runaway inflation; the scale and severity of these challenges amounts to an existential threat to the international economic system. Failure to effectively address these issues will inevitably lead to civil unrest. Finance can play a role in finding solutions: the current financial system has generated a vast amount of wealth and know-how, and these resources can and should be utilised to tackle these problems. Organisations such as BwB and Laudes Foundation are uniquely positioned to help bridge this gap.

  1. Multi-lateral development banks (MDBs) must change: on a wholesale level, MDBs are failing to fulfil their primary purpose – that is, facilitating economic development in poorer nations. If properly executed, investments from MDBs in poorer countries should facilitate the entrance of large scale institutional investors from the private sector. However, this is not currently happening on anywhere near the scale required. MDBs must revise their investment strategies and risk tolerance, so that investments can flow into countries that are less politically stable and economically developed – to those that need it most. MDBs receive their mandate from governments, so efforts must be made to push for a change in government policy and priorities. We need institutional champions and advocates, and we should utilise all available means to push for these crucial shifts. Change is possible, we only need to take decisive action towards it.

  1. Silos must be broken if genuine solutions are to be found and implemented for systemic problems: part of the problem is that policy makers, financiers, governors of MDBs, academics and others, do not sit down together and collaborate often enough. Many feasible solutions exist for the challenges we face, but silos are stopping interactions across organisational/disciplinary boundaries, and the vital communication needed to coordinate solutions is thus, not happening. We need get better at convening these groups. We must also be braver and bolder in our actions – the scale and importance of the challenges we face demand nothing less.

Bankers without Boundaries, an innovator in finance, is a not for profit powered by former investment bankers to assist high impact projects that benefit the environment and social good. BwB works with local and national governments, cities, institutions, and foundations to mobilise capital advisory and research services. BwB applies financial concepts and structuring to public projects to align them with the investment needs of capital markets, thinking about risk reduction, scaling and generation of financial returns alongside broader positive co-benefits and impacts.


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