For-profit

Sonen Capital

Website:

www.sonencapital.com

Location:

San Francisco, CA

Type:

ESG Investment Firm

Sonen Capital is a left-of-center investment management firm that advises its clients to invest in companies that adhere to a left-of-center environmental, social, and governance (ESG) agenda. Sonen Capital also provides portfolio management services and assists companies and foundations in transitioning to entirely ESG-aligned portfolios. [1] The very name “Sonen Capital” is taken from the left-of-center ESG movement, coming from a combination of “social” and “environmental” investing. [2]

Sonen Capital has worked with foundations and investment firms to transition portfolios to exclusively supporting ESG-aligned firms. The firm has also supported calls for increased regulation to enforce ESG goals, especially in support of environmentalism. [3] [4]

Activity

Sonen Capital is a left-of-center ESG investment firm that works to target its clients’ portfolios to exclusively supporting companies which adhere to left-of-center environmental and social policy. [5] The firm has claimed that it can provide 100% ESG portfolios without sacrificing competitive market returns and brands itself as having the ability to “harness the positive power of enterprise” to create left-of-center social and environmental change. [6] [7]

Aside from providing investment advice, Sonen Capital has also pushed for increase regulation on the financial industry to prevent firms from investing in “unsustainable” projects. [8] Aside from advocating for new regulations, Sonen Capital has pushed investors to align their portfolios with the left-of-center Sustainable Development Goals developed by the United Nations (UN). [9]

In 2013, Sonen Capital published a 70-page report on designing and implementing an ESG portfolio meant to be used as a guide for foundations and business to implement 100% ESG portfolios on their own. In the piece, Sonen Capital argued that portfolios invested in companies which adhere left-of-center ESG values have competitive returns as compared to those invested in conventional firms. [10]

In 2016, Sonen Capital signed onto a letter written by left-of-center environmentalist organization Friends of the Earth claiming that palm oil investments cause deforestation and other environmental damage. The letter urged companies invested in palm oil to halt investments and adopt strict “sustainability” metrics. Sonen Capital went one step further than the letter, arguing that there must be “definitive guidelines” on palm oil investments that are monitored and enforced by an outside agency. [11] The following year, Sonen Capital pledged to continue to support the Paris Climate Agreement after the Trump administration pulled out of the deal. [12]

Sonen Capital has also provided investment guidance to left-of-center foundations. In 2018, Sonen Capital worked with the KL Felicitas Foundation and New Philanthropy Capital to develop a tool that measures a foundation’s investments using an “impact risk classification” system. The tool has been used to create Toniic (sic), a network of investors who have pledged to run “impact investing” ESG portfolios in the billions of dollars. [13]

Sonen Capital also manages portfolios for left-of-center foundations, including the KLF Foundation. [14] In 2017, the left-of-center Nathan Cummings Foundation announced that it was going “all in,” investing its $443 million endowment in companies which subscribed to a left-of-center ESG agenda. The Foundation hired Sonen Capital to structure and oversee the transition process. [15]

Leadership

Stuart Davidson is a co-founder of Sonen and works as chairman of the board and managing director of Sonen Capital. He also is a managing partner for Labrador Ventures, a Palo Alto-based early-stage technology-focused venture capital fund. He is a former CEO of Combion, Inc and former president of Alkermes, Inc. Davidson also worked for MCI Communications and for Warner Communications. Davidson is a trustee of the Woodcock Foundation and sits on the investment committee for the left-of-center Skoll Foundation. [16]

Raul Pomares is the other co-founder of Sonen Capital and a member of the firm’s investment committee. He was previously the managing director at Springcreek Advisors and a portfolio manager at Guggenheim Wealth Management. Early in his career, Pomares founded a boutique wealth management firm and worked as a private banker and consultant. Pomares wrote Solutions for Impact Investors: From Strategy to Implementation, the book that provided a case study of Sonen Capital’s work and pushed for increased ESG investment. [17]

Bob Goldstein is CEO of Sonen Capital. Goldstein was formerly CEO of RCM Capital Management’s San Francisco office. Goldstein is also a trained mergers and acquisitions attorney, having worked for the law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges before going into finance. [18]

References

  1. “Impact Investments.” Sonen Capital. Accessed May 26, 2021. http://www.sonencapital.com/investments/. ^
  2. “Impact Investing.” Sonen Capital. Accessed May 26, 2021. http://www.sonencapital.com/about/. ^
  3. Field, Anne. “Nathan Cummings Foundation’s Going ‘All In’ Was A Long Time In The Making.” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, March 20, 2018. https://www.forbes.com/sites/annefield/2018/03/20/nathan-cummings-foundations-going-all-in-was-a-long-time-in-the-making/?sh=156f751f6082. ^
  4. “US Investors Ploughing Billions into Palm Oil, Claims Report.” The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, July 26, 2016. https://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2016/jul/26/palm-oil-us-investors-deforestation-land-grabs-pension-funds-banks-forest-fires-climate-change. ^
  5. About. Accessed December 5, 2019. http://www.sonencapital.com/about/ ^
  6. About. Accessed December 5, 2019. http://www.sonencapital.com/about/ ^
  7. Impact. Accessed December 5, 2019. http://www.sonencapital.com/impact/ ^
  8. “US Investors Ploughing Billions into Palm Oil, Claims Report.” The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, July 26, 2016. https://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2016/jul/26/palm-oil-us-investors-deforestation-land-grabs-pension-funds-banks-forest-fires-climate-change. ^
  9. Gladstein, Alex, and Jeffrey Smith. “How the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals Undermine Democracy.” Quartz. Quartz, June 7, 2018. https://qz.com/africa/1299149/how-the-uns-sustainable-development-goals-undermine-democracy/. ^
  10. Carter, Ashtin. “7 Impact Investing Must-Reads.” Devex. Devex, June 30, 2014. https://www.devex.com/news/7-impact-investing-must-reads-83747. ^
  11. “US Investors Ploughing Billions into Palm Oil, Claims Report.” The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, July 26, 2016. https://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2016/jul/26/palm-oil-us-investors-deforestation-land-grabs-pension-funds-banks-forest-fires-climate-change. ^
  12. Schlanger, Zoë. “All the US Cities, States, Universities, Companies, and Investors Defying Trump on Paris.” Quartz. Quartz, June 5, 2017. https://qz.com/999142/paris-agreement-all-of-the-us-cities-counties-states-universities-companies-and-investors-defying-trumps-stance-on-climate-deal/. ^
  13. Schultz, Abby. “Accounting For Impact Alongside Market Returns.” Barron’s. Barrons, May 15, 2018. https://www.barrons.com/articles/accounting-for-impact-alongside-market-returns-1526416550. ^
  14. Schultz, Abby. “Accounting For Impact Alongside Market Returns.” Barron’s. Barrons, May 15, 2018. https://www.barrons.com/articles/accounting-for-impact-alongside-market-returns-1526416550. ^
  15. Field, Anne. “Nathan Cummings Foundation’s Going ‘All In’ Was A Long Time In The Making.” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, March 20, 2018. https://www.forbes.com/sites/annefield/2018/03/20/nathan-cummings-foundations-going-all-in-was-a-long-time-in-the-making/?sh=156f751f6082. ^
  16. “Stuart Davidson.” Sonen Capital. Accessed May 26, 2021. http://www.sonencapital.com/team-member/stuart-davidson/. ^
  17. “Raúl Pomares.” Sonen Capital. Accessed May 26, 2021. http://www.sonencapital.com/team-member/raul-pomares/. ^
  18. “Bob Goldstein.” Sonen Capital. Accessed May 26, 2021. http://www.sonencapital.com/team-member/bob-goldstein/. ^
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Sonen Capital


San Francisco, CA