Catalyst for Change
[IMPACT+: This series features IMPACT posts that take a longer look at vital topics.]
Two weeks ago, ACLI held its first in-person annual conference since 2019. We were thrilled to engage face-to-face once again with thought leaders from across the country.
The conference featured many inspiring sessions, so it’s probably not fair to single any out. But I’m going to anyway.
On the final day, Dr. Julie Morita of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation spoke about the Foundation’s interest in using impact investment as a tool to help improve the health and wellbeing of everyone in America.
After her speech, Lincoln Financial Group’s Jayson Bronchetti moderated a conversation with Insurance Commissioners Andrew Mais of Connecticut and Doug Ommen of Iowa about the community impact of life insurer investments.
What brought these leaders together?
Earlier this year America’s life insurance companies launched 360 Community Capital. This historic, nonprofit investment partnership will be the catalyst to linking the life insurance industry’s long-term investment capital with community development partners that provide affordable, sustainable housing for families across the nation.
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation sees affordable housing as a fundamental building block toward good health. And it is eager to work with life insurers to invest more in this area.
As Dr. Morita explained, “Data shows that affordable housing translates into improved physical and mental health. When families are economically secure, they can protect themselves, protect their assets and build generational wealth.
“The link between what you do and what we do as the nation’s largest philanthropy focused on health is so clear. We both want to help communities stay safe, stay secure and be as healthy as they can be.”
Life insurers already invest $7.4 trillion in America’s economy. By focusing more of our investments on affordable housing, we can make an even bigger impact in communities throughout the country.
Bronchetti, the Chair of the Investment Committee of 360 Community Capital, said: “The focus is on affordable housing, but even bigger than that, it’s on closing the racial wealth gap through purpose-driven investments along multiple different lines of social impact, some of which Dr. Morita spoke about. And doing that with our own capital but also with the partnership and support of private foundations like the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, government entities and others. I’m just thrilled to see where this goes.”
So are we. With 40 ACLI members signing on as founding partners, we’re off to a great start.
Commissioners Mais and Ommen also spoke positively about the 360 Community Capital initiative. They emphasized how as regulators their primary responsibility is policyholder protection and insurer solvency. Still, they are very optimistic that this program can be successful and impactful.
“Doing good and doing well, we do not believe should be mutually exclusive,” said Commissioner Mais. “It’s an issue of equity. It’s an issue of social justice. It’s an issue of how life insurers invest their capital to ensure that as a former President used to say, ‘A rising tide lifts all boats.’”
“When people have good housing, when people have access to technology, these are people who can become productive members of society. We’re working together to see how we can fit these investments within our solvency framework. Generally, I think you will find that the NAIC (National Association of Insurance Commissioners) and its members are strongly committed to making this work. Not just because we can. But I think because we should. It’s the right thing to do.”