Key Insights and Opportunities from the Values-Aligned Investing Survey

Date: Jun 28 2019

Paulina Cromwell, CFA, Manager, Knowledge Center, Family Office Exchange

Earlier this year, we completed our 2019 FOX Survey on Values-Aligned Investing alongside our annual Global Investment Survey for the first time. We felt strongly that it was time to gather information on this growing trend - and share the findings with our members and their advisors – because there has been a fundamental shift in how families of wealth view capital deployment. Today’s families of wealth are increasingly focused on aligning their activities and dollars with their values. What was once a conversation held at the philanthropic table is now being discussed across the capital spectrum. The latest FOX research brings new insights about values-aligned investing and a fresh perspective – in terms of its depth, scope, and specificity to this unique group of private investors.

  • Families allocating capital are “all in.” Families with values-aligned investment programs in place are deeply committed to this philosophy, allocating an average of 60% of their total investable assets to these strategies. Many FOX families are already 100% values-aligned investment-wise or are on their way toward that stated goal. These families are implementing their “responsible” and “sustainable” strategies using public market vehicles and their more deliberate “impact” strategies through private investments.
  • Families plan to double their focus on direct investments. As market uncertainty looms, families are turning to direct investments in operating businesses to have more control of their investments compared to a private equity fund manager. Going forward, 64% of families currently making values-aligned investments plan to invest directly, compared to the 36% of families today, As the values-aligned market matures, families are also less concerned with diversifying concentration risk as they seek to make deeper, more personal connections with fewer recipients of their capital. It is important to note that the most significant challenge for experienced investors in this space is identifying high-quality and innovative investment opportunities (a quality, not quantity issue).

Opportunity #1
Families are allocating significant capital in meaningful ways when they find the right opportunities, and the market needs to prepare accordingly.


  • Investors are expecting market-rate returns and they are getting them. Market-rate return is by far the most common financial target among current investors across the full spectrum of values-aligned investments. Interestingly, families newer to these types of investments have meaningfully lower financial return expectations. As they gain experience, many come to realize that their values-aligned returns are not concessionary. It is noteworthy that when evaluating both financial targets and social/environmental targets, surveyed investors stated that over 80% of values-aligned investments have met or exceeded expectations.
  • Families need education and are asking for it. Those families not-yet making investments find educating decision makers (around financial returns, social impact, and common terminology) the primary challenge to getting buy-in within the family. This presents a tremendous opportunity for leaders in this industry (both families and their advisors) to provide these families with the educational and research tools to mitigate their concerns and move them toward the deployment of capital in a more integrated and values-aligned way.

Opportunity #2
There is a significant gap between the perceived challenges in the values-aligned investment market and the actual challenges that investors face. This is an important opportunity for families and advisors to bridge that gap so families can better unleash the power of their capital.