Tideline launches Bluemark impact investment verification business
Tideline, a specialist consultant for the impact investing industry, has launched BlueMark, an independent business providing impact verification services for investors and companies.
BlueMark’s mission is “to strengthen trust in impact investing” through rigorous and independent assessments of an investor’s or company’s impact practices and performance, with the aim of building confidence and credibility in the impact label. The new business draws on Tideline’s expertise helping clients develop impact investment strategies and practices, with third-party verification now emerging as the next critical piece of a best-in-class approach.
“Independent verification is essential for scaling the impact investing industry with integrity,” says Christina Leijonhufvud, a Managing Partner at Tideline who has transitioned to become CEO of BlueMark. “By introducing a reliable mechanism for establishing trust and accountability in the impact investment market, stakeholders can have greater confidence in impact claims and performance. Asset owners and institutional allocators especially benefit from the introduction of impact verification, which has the potential to dramatically simplify the impact screening and monitoring process and thereby mobilise greater capital flows toward positive societal impact.”
Impact verification came to the forefront in April 2019 with the introduction of the Operating Principles for Impact Management (OPIM), led by the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and now featuring a growing group of more than 100 signatories dedicated to “establishing a common discipline around the management of investments for impact.” One of these Principles – Principle 9 – specifically requires signatories to publicly disclose and independently verify their alignment with the Principles on a regular basis.
Shortly after the launch of the Impact Principles, Tideline completed the first-ever published OPIM verification on behalf of LeapFrog Investments. To date, Tideline has completed 20 impact management system verifications, including nearly 40 per cent of the verifications published to date by OPIM signatories. The aggregated results of the first 13 of these verifications were featured in Tideline’s April 2020 report, “Making the Mark,” that explored how impact investors are coalescing around best practices and addressing shared challenges. These results spotlighted what is now BlueMark’s signature impact management practice verification, and influenced the introduction of additional verification services that span impact mandate and impact reporting assessments as well.
The launch of BlueMark represents the formal separation of the verification business from Tideline’s consulting business, thereby establishing a dedicated team to provide independent impact verification services. BlueMark will also serve non-US clients out of a newly established London office.
The BlueMark team has designed proprietary methodologies for evaluating how each of the three key components of an investor’s impact management process—impact mandates, impact management practices, and impact reporting—are aligned with industry standards like OPIM, Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), Impact Management Project (IMP), the Global Impact Investing Network’s (GIIN) IRIS+, UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and others.
The Rockefeller Foundation and Radicle Impact intend to make catalytic investments into BlueMark to help seed the business and ensure the impact investing field has access to high-quality and independent verification services.
“Tideline has long been a pioneer in the impact investing space, and this new verification business represents the next frontier and a much-needed step in the evolution of this industry,” says Maria Kozloski, Senior Vice President of Innovative Finance at The Rockefeller Foundation. “We are proud to support the BlueMark team as they continue to advance best practices in impact investing.”
“Our goal at Radicle Impact is to provide investors with benchmark or better returns, deliver measurable social justice and environmental resilience impacts, and catalyse the migration of large amounts of mainstream capital to impact investing,” says Dan Skaff, Managing Partner at Radicle Impact. “In order to do so, we believe in the need for well-articulated impact goals, transparency and independent validation of results. The BlueMark team are proven leaders in data-based impact evaluation and measurement, and we’re excited to join their efforts to accelerate meaningful impact in the venture and private equity communities."
As of this announcement, BlueMark’s verification clients include, among others: BlueOrchard Finance, Calvert Impact Capital, CDC Group, Closed Loop Partners, Community Investment Management (CIM), European Bank for Reconstruction Development (EBRD), KKR, LeapFrog Investments, LGT Venture Philanthropy, Nuveen, PG Impact Investments, PG LIFE, the Osiris Group, and UBS.