They may be generation £$€, worth around $100bn, but the delegates of the Nexus Youth summit are bringing a new set of values to philanthropy and investing, says Amanda Feldman in her latest column for Pioneers Post.
A Nexus Youth Summit is not your typical conference. It begins by convening a small group of social entrepreneurs and young wealth holders in a stately room, without nametags. By young, I mean under-40s, and by wealth holders, I mean Nexus’ global youth network represents over $100bn.
I showed up at my second European Nexus Youth Summit with a conviction: if we could ensure that young wealth holders were investing in line with our generation’s values, surely we could revolutionize the social investment marketplace? With all the talk of what our generation expects and wants – it’s time to put some money where the millennial mouth is.
To set the tone for the weekend, my first conversation (and buddy for the glitzy photo shoot upon arrival by Bindelglass Photography) was Eveline Maas of ABN Amro. She is trying to change wealth management from the inside-out, and her intrapreneurial spirit isn’t just stirring the pot within ABN Amro. She has catalyzed partnerships like the one between Enviu and ValuStrat’s millennial-led pro bono arm, who have embarked on a journey together to improve the lives of rickshaw drivers in India – using clean energy.
Camila Batmangelidjh of Kids Company reminded every young investor in the room that most philanthropic money is going towards relieving symptoms, like increased violence, and not understanding the root causes – especially psychological ones – which have shown up consistently in the thousands of youth that have self-referred themselves to Kids Company since 1996.
Marcin Jakubowski believes that capitalism optimizes for efficiency, not robustness – so OpenSource Ecology is enabling anyone to build a civilization from stuff in our backyards.
And Mark Florman of the BVCA opened a panel with the idea of an External Rate of Return (ERR) – recognizing that the traditional concept of shareholder value has changed. Supply chains are being exposed, and everything that is impacted by a business action could (and should) add or subtract from a company’s Internal Rate of Return (IRR).
Family affairs were also the name of the game. Two generations of the Brenninkmeijer family laid their hearts out about the complexity (and joy) of a seven-generation business, when it comes to doing what’s right for the future, even if it changes the traditional rules of the game – for example, just recently inviting female lineage into C&A management.
The family business conversations were painfully honest and raised a fundamental conundrum. How does the millennial generation take on the challenge of doing well while doing good now, when their parents and grandparents invested so sincerely in earning now, then giving back later?
Oh, and Nexus wasn’t all about talking business. Apparently the Brenninkmeijers pursue musical talents on the side, as embodied publically by Hot//Light//Fiesta and privately at family gatherings. You heard it here first.
Tarek Mouganie, Marie Phillips and Marlon Roudette got real about how useless celebrity backing can be for a cause, if it’s just celebrity for celebrity’s sake. Key takeaway: if you need a celebrity for your media campaign, just be honest and invite them to a photo shoot, not an ill-planned African site visit, thinking they’ll feel any better about their “endorsement”.
These are just a few highlights from an action-packed program. Some sessions missed the point, getting stuck in the philanthropy versus social investment debate – but overall, Nexus was a refreshing conversation about intergenerational wealth. Nexus outcomes were represented at the G8 Young Summit, and further summits are rolling out across the globe in 2013.
By deliberately bringing young values and financial value together, Nexus reminds me that revolution has yet to arrive, but inspiration is all around us. The young brains trust behind Kantian Advisors summed it all up: “remain open to unsolved questions, and savour unexpected answers.”