Ian Learmonth: CEO, Clean Energy Finance Corporation

It wasn’t until Ian Learmonth stepped away from SVA that he began to truly understand the organisation’s standing within the community.

Learmonth spent six years as SVA’s Executive Director of Impact Investing, before accepting a role as the CEO of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation in 2017.

“I think the one thing SVA should always remember, and probably underestimates, is just how influential and highly regarded it is, particularly across state and federal government,” he says.

“SVA is a very progressive organisation. It’s at the cutting edge of so many things. The organisation of social purpose companies, as well as the way it thinks about diversity, indigenous affairs, social and affordable housing. I learnt a lot of things at SVA that I will carry with me for many years.

“There’s a lot to be proud of down there at SVA.”

Arriving at SVA in 2011 after 13 years as a Senior Managing Director with Macquarie Group, Learmonth says he joined out of a desire to make an impact.

“I didn’t want to go to my grave as a career investment banker,” he says with a laugh.

“I wanted to step out of 20 plus years of investment banking and see if I could use some of my skills to make a bit of a difference.”

Six years on, Learmonth is more than satisfied with what we was able to achieve while at SVA. And justifiably so. When he joined he was tasked with building SVA’s impact investing team. Today SVA is considered a leader in impact investing in Australia. The team is responsible for creating Australia’s first social impact bond — the Newpin Social Benefit Bond, and the SVA Social Impact Fund, which generated competitive returns. It’s new fund — The SVA Diversified Impact Fund, reached first close in December 2017.

“I think where SVA has got to in terms of social impact investing is really something,” Learmonth says.

“It influences a lot of thinking from institutional investors and it’s really taking the organisation and sector somewhere.”

SVA, Learmonth says, is well equipped to take advantage of the opportunity impact investing presents to improve the lives of Australians experiencing disadvantage.

“I think the key is going out there and doing it at scale,” he says.

“That scale is going to come through the social and affordable housing sectors, the disability sector, and more broadly in community health and education.”

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