Impact Investing and Next Gens

For the broader field of impact investment, family offices are perceived to be increasingly important actors in the space. They have the ability to set their own investment targets, they are potentially more nimble than institutional investors in their decision-making systems, and impending wealth transfer to Next Gens within families is anticipated to favor a shift of assets towards impact investing.

In the coming decades, the rising generation of high net worth families will inherit an estimated US$41 trillion from the current or retiring generation.[i]  Studies have shown that Next Gens, understood as family members between age 25 and 40, often have more progressive value systems than previous generations and are more interested and drawn to the value proposition behind impact investing strategies. However, they struggle with a number of obstacles, including: familiarity with the range of impact investing options, perceptions of financial underperformance, concerns over greenwashing, limited peer-to-peer collaboration, differing generational perspectives on the role of investment, lack of specialist advisors, and entrenched conventional investment approaches. As a result, only four percent of Next Gen family members consider themselves fully-active participants spending “a great deal” of time engaged in impact investing, although the majority (60 percent) of Next Gens consider it “important” to use their family’s wealth to make a positive social or environmental impact.[ii]

The IRI’s Impact Investing for the Next Generation program is an applied research program that directly engages Next Gen cohorts to explore the role of family offices in impact investing.  Through two workshops and a six-month period of individual and group work, participants develop leadership and engagement skills, gain access to a conceptual frameworks, a body of knowledge about and real world examples of impact investing in practice, conduct a due diligence field exercise, explore the creation of impact investing strategies and policies, and in sum develop a solid foundation for Next Gens to build support for, and then implement, impact investing within a family business and family office context.

The program is convened by the IRI and the Center for Sustainable Finance and Private Wealth (CSP) at University of Zurich, and is developed in collaboration with the World Economic Forum, along with emerging leaders within family offices and industry experts. Participants are supported by a community of like-minded Next Gens, faculty, advisors, experts, and alumni who share their expertise during and after the program.

For more information, please email

IRI Next Gen Program Team


David Wood photo

Dr. David Wood
Director, Initiative for Responsible Investment; research and field-work on responsible investment across asset classes, from pension funds to families

James Gifford photo

Dr. James Gifford
Head of Impact Advisory at Credit Suisse, Singapore; founder and former Executive Director of the UN Principles for Responsible Investment

Falko Paetzold photo

Dr. Falko Paetzold
Initiator and Managing Director, Center for Sustainable Finance and Private Wealth (CSP), Department of Banking and Finance, University of Zurich; research and field work on sustainable finance strategies for families and private banks

Temple Fennell photo

Temple Fennell
Keller Enterprises Family Office; MIT Sloan Fellow; founded and led various firms and set up family office processes; specialist in direct investments and impact investing strategy development for family wealth


[i] Boston College Social Welfare Research Institute (2003):

[ii] Morgan Stanley Private Wealth Management & Campden Wealth (2014):