COVID-19: An update and a look forward.

From the CEO, Daniel Madhavan

Published: April 9, 2020

Firstly, thank you for taking time to read this. Despite the fact many of us rarely leave our homes we are more busy than ever, and lots of us have extremely pressing concerns.

As we go into Easter and Passover, it feels like we are nearing the end of the first phase of this Covid-19 year. We have taken the first shock. We have adjusted and we are moving into a new phase. We can only hope it will be less frantic, but it is likely to last longer.

At IIG, we have been highly focussed on two things. We are making sure our team is safe, supported and well-equipped to work and live in this new environment. We are protecting our community’s investments and their impact. We have now updated each Trust’s investors on that work, and will continue to do so in the coming months – as we can deliver information and guidance that is accurate and has an on-going utility.

We have set up temporary structures to focus more resources on monitoring and managing COVID-19 related risks to the investments while ensuring IIG’s operational capability continues unabated. I am leading that work.

Our Chief Impact Officer is leading a temporary team to consider how we may support our communities during the hardest phase of this outbreak.
Our Head of Product and Strategy is leading a stream of work to explore what role we might play in the recovery phase that will follow. We have begin to consider the work and capital needed to support businesses and communities in line with our enduring mission.

But although we are confident in our own capabilities, the weeks and months ahead will be very complex. It is not possible to predict the responses and effects across varied and interlinked systems.  Pinning hopes to predictions is not a sensible strategy, in our view.  Instead we believe the best course of action is to set ourselves up to observe, understand and respond rapidly in a fast-changing emergent environment.

Already, the assumptions that everyone held at the start of 2020 are out the window. The environment has changed remarkably in such a short space of time.  The conditions under which we managed our last major transactions seem long ago; selling the Kingsgate property last financial year, or even since settling the sale of the Byron Beach Hotel in February this year. Those are distant memories.

The environment has also changed remarkably for the new ideas we had in the pipeline. We have had to shelve some plans, but we are already seeing new impact-supporting capital needs and opportunities. For example, we believe impact investments in the alternative asset class have become even more relevant.

Australia’s deputy chief medical officer is forecasting that we will not beat COVID for at least 9 months, possibly 18. Less fortunate parts of the world look extremely vulnerable. There are long lines across the world for unemployment benefits. Equity markets are swinging day-to-day. In every country governments are forced into difficult trade offs at every turn.

So, amidst all of this uncertainty, I have tried to stay aware of the things which will remain true. We are still driven to show that finance can and should be a force for good. We need forces for good more than ever.

As we move into the recovery phase it will not only be public funds that are required to move us forward.  Private capital will also play a vital role in any recovery.  The need for considering the impact of that capital has never been greater. On the other side of this we will have a choice to make on how capital is used.  A choice between what is built and what is not. A choice between what is saved and what is lost. A choice between who we support and who we abandon. A choice between what we reimagine and what we cling to. We can choose well.

We can choose to support resilient communities where local businesses thrive and where people have fufilling work.

We can choose to continue moving our towns and cities towards sustainability, and to be inclusive and supportive for everyone.

We can choose to shift our energy systems to become 100% renewable, affordable and accessible.

These are still the crucial elements of a resilient economy and society, and they will be into the future.

So, the path between this crisis and that better future is not clear, but we must take it anyway. That has not changed.

I hope that you and your family are safe and well.

– Daniel Madhavan, CEO