2014-07-13_karen-wendt_403_WEB_640x480Investment banker, co-initiator of the Equator Principles

Editor of literature on responsible investment banking, positive impact investing and organizational culture

Consultant on responsible investment banking and positive impact investment

Coach for corporate culture, change management and leadership development

Areas of Expertise

  • Responsible investment, finance and banking
  • Positive impact investing
  • Sustainable investment and financing-strategies and the creation of voluntary global administrative law
  • Climate-friendly markets and value chains
  • Change management and creation of a responsible corporate culture and leadership

Curriculum Vitae

Karen Wendt has got more than 20 years of experience in different areas of investment banking. She was instrumental in the development of the Equator Principles, widely accepted eco-social standards for international financings, in 2003 and contributed to their further development and strategic review (Equator Principles II in 2006 and Equator Principles III in 2013). With these principles she, together with her colleagues in other institutions, created a level playing field for the evaluation of environmental and social risks. Since its establishment, she has been seconded as a member to the steering committee of the Equator Principles Financial Institutions Association (EPFIA) and has been involved in the creation of voluntary global administrative law. One of the lessons learned from these activities is, that intensive stakeholder engagement is at the heart of every movement towards sustainability in banking. Creating a shared vision, mission and cultural language will help to push social and environmental values.

The success of the Equator Principles convinced her, that a change in the parameters of world economy, towards an internalization of negative externalities, is possible. Various sound initiatives can now be bundled together, in order to reach the next level in the evolution of investment and banking by turning positive impact investing and finance into a mainstream approach.

Karen has experience with human rights issues, especially in the context of project financings, international labour law and environmental reviews as well as the creation of environmental management systems, action plans and mitigation strategies (with regard to environmental and social risks) for large international transactions in various industries and regions.

Karen initiated and conducted stakeholder-dialogues with international network organizations about ESG and took the initiative on positive impact investing.

She holds an MBA from the University of Liverpool, UK and is a professional executive coach. In addition, she is the editor of various books about responsible investment and finance and positive impact investing. She conceives this idea as the further development of the people, planet, profit and responsible economy concept towards an opportunity-oriented approach.

As a visiting professor at two universities in Russia and Belarus, she lived with her family in Moscow in 1993 and 1994 and witnessed an economy and a society in intense transition to a market economy.

Furthermore Karen did profound research on culture in investment banking, the role of alignment of interests and values as well as the effect of leadership behaviour on trust and the value identity within banks.

Editor’s Summary of Responsible Investment Banking

At the World Economic Forum in Davos 2011, the analyst Barrie Wilkinson from Oliver Wyman came to the conclusion, that despite numerous efforts, the factors that caused the financial crisis still exist. Shareholders and bankers have incentives, which carry them to take extensive risk. With this statement, Wilkinson seems to confirm Milton Friedman, who replied, when asked what economics contributes to the welfare of society: „The business of business is business” (1972).

Do we have to accept, that the financial system is following its own logic, which makes it impossible to take eco-social parameters into account? Or, is there still hope for a more sustainable and responsible investment and finance business.

The contributions to responsible investment banking tackle the dilemma that on the one hand infinite growth and “business as usual” in a finite and changing world comes at a high price and may be impossible at the long run. On the other hand, we need sustainable growth and new innovative concepts and products to overcome malnutrition, lack of health care and insurance and build up sustainable infrastructure. We need to create climate friendly markets, support sustainable entrepreneurs and sustain access to public goods like water. Responsible investment banking provides an overview of the current ideas, innovative strategies and solutions, which led to initiatives towards more effectiveness, sustainability and responsibility in the investment and finance industry and outlines proven and avant-garde concepts and potential next steps towards creating positive impacts through investment and finance. In the editor’s contribution you can additionally find short abstracts of the rest of the contributions to the volume.

Virulent questions being addressed are: What and how can banks and financial institutions contribute to a sustainable economy? To what extend can investments and financings generate a positive impact? Do we have to change the value chains, and if so, how? How can the investment industry regain trust? Should we “double the impact and half the footprint” ? Should we look to establish positive handprints and how would climate friendly markets look like?

Responsible Investment Banking tracks the changes that appeared in the models and ways of thinking from environmental and social risk management to people orientation and pays special attention to human rights, climate change, living wages and positive impact creation. Additionally it discusses banking culture, diversity, as well as risk management, governance, fiduciary duties and the most common frameworks of global administrative law.

There is already a whole bunch of approaches for more effectiveness, sustainability and responsibility in the investment industry. More and more investors, academics, and thought leaders from the industry demonstrate, that an integrated view of the ecological, social and economic performance – in short triple bottom line (TBL) performance – and the effective evaluation of eco-social impacts can turn the table from risk avoidance into opportunity creation. By integrating these social and environmental aspects, the classical triangle of return, risk and liquidity gets complemented by a fourth component – the eco-social impact of use of funds.

My Network

Equator Principles Financial Institutions Association, FNG, Bund Naturschutz (Friends of the Earth), UNEP FI, World Vision, FidAR

Hobbies and Social Engagement

Seeking solutions for a sustainable society, responsible investments and positive impact investments; presentations at conferences; writing and editing books; doing interviews; being curious about projects.