Going Green had the chance to sit down with Gordon Power, Entrepreneur and investor; based in London at the Earth Capital HQ. We are firm believers in the people who are investing in sustainability will see a lot of financial success as the technology and infrastructure comes into place. We are excited to share this interview with you about investing in sustainability with Gordon Power.
Gordon, thanks for being here. Tell us a little bit about you and your background:
I started life as an art student, but realized quite quickly I wasn’t able to make sufficient income from using my creative skills, so I trained as an accountant which gave me strong analytic skills which I then used when I moved into the private equity (PE) world. I started my first PE business as a division of Guinness Mahon in 1984 and eventually bought it out in 1998. I named the business ProVen Private Equity and sought to raise publicly quoted funds alongside traditional institutional funds to invest in general PE Growth businesses.
I met my great friend and mentor Stephen Lansdown at that time (co-founder of the private client business Hargreaves Lansdown (HL), the UK’s largest independent private client brokerage, and a FTSE100 constituent) and when we sold ProVen we decided to build a PE group focused on sustainability. Our business now manages $1.6bn across the world, all in sustainability.
My career IRR to date from 256 investments is 28.5%.
What is a fun fact about you?
I started my career by selling my paintings on the railings at Hyde Park Corner. I realized that whilst this was great fun and I learnt vital sales technique skills I was never going to make a fortune out of my creativity and that I needed to focus on enhancing my numerical skills and put them to work.
What was your motivation to get into this industry?
I was always interested in understanding the mechanics of business and realized the ability to also provide capital to SME’s whilst assisting them with mentoring to grow their business could be a hugely satisfying career. I have enjoyed it so much that I also wanted to look at a sector that made a difference to the way we operate as a community and that led me to want to build a stronger, more sustainable business that would outlive me.
Why do you think climate change/sustainability is such an important topic today?
It’s the most dangerous business risk that anybody is facing. The effect of climate change on business resilience is going to have an enormous affect on the wealth of company’s far greater than Covid–19 will have. The effect of climate change will not only require us to review our business practices but it will also render certain industries stranded and valueless in time. There will not be an industry that will not be affected by increasing temperatures and the effects it will have on its environment, societal focus and governance and its ability to operate.
What do you envision your industry looking like 10 years from now?
A large proportion of our industry will be invested in sustainable opportunities otherwise there will be significant stranded assets of little value. The industry will find it more difficult to exit businesses that are less sustainable with the resulting effect on returns.
What can the average person do to make a difference?
Focus on reducing their purchase and use of discretionary products especially high carbon products. Investment activity should be more focused on ESG and away from “business as usual” investing. These activities would make the providers of such goods and services drive change in businesses to meet the new consumer demands.
What positive changes are you seeing?
A significant increase in awareness of the risks of climate change and the effects it has on our lives and attitudes towards making change happen being driven by students on the streets focusing government and financial institutions minds on the longer-term changes that need to happen to ensure we combat the rigour of climate change.
Thank you Gordon, for taking the time and diving deep into investing in sustainability.
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Dylan Welch is the CEO and Host of Going Green, a podcast, website, and social media brand that highlights renewable energy, cleantech, and sustainable news.