November 17, 2017

DOLFINS – Distributed Global Financial Systems for Society

Exploring the Twitterland of the Impact Investing Market

Luisa De Amicis co-authored with Petra Kralj Novak, Catherine Hughes and Igor Mozetic

Whilst impact investing has recently exhibited exceptionally high growth rates, creating an interconnected and functioning market remains an open challenge. Social media play an increasingly important role in understanding communication and relations between different players in the market. This is the first time that network, content, and sentiment analysis have been applied to impact investing, to the best of the authors’ knowledge. In the paper, we explore the Twitter activities of 83,012 Twitter users in this field over a period of four months.We analyse Twitter sentiment w.r.t. related topics, identify influential Twitter users, and detect retweet communities. We characterize the communities in terms of influential users they comprise, hashtags they use, and how they relate to typical categories of actors in this domain (investors, social businesses,...). Despite policy makers’ effort, we find out that more awareness has to be raised about the topic and the market is not so cohesive yet. The role of tech industry is also discussed. We provide recommendations for a more conducive environment to make the market flourish.

DOLFINS – Distributed Global Financial Systems for Society

Following the 2007-2009 financial crisis, developed economies around the world have set about exploring fairer and more stable approaches to global finance. Within this context, the EU-funded DOLFINS (Distributed Global Financial Systems for Society) project addresses the global challenge of making the financial system better serve society. It does so by placing scientific evidence and citizens’ participation at the centre of the policy process concerning finance. DOLFINS focuses on two crucial and interconnected policy areas that will shape the public debate in the coming 5 years: how to achieve financial stability and how to facilitate the long-term investments required by the transition to a more sustainable, more innovative, less unequal and greener EU economy.

Our Added Value

  • Identify, collect and analyse information and data to build a database of key players in the social finance market (including advocacy organisations, impact investors, social and ethical banks, family offices, foundations, institutional and long-term investors as well as “traditional” philanthropists and banks with an interest into the social and environmental consequences of financial decisions and policies addressing the financial markets.
  • Identify and document best practices in the social finance domain, in terms of concrete projects, policy, and regulation.
  • Organize multidisciplinary workshops about the influence of the financial industry versus citizens’ influence on policies with small groups of stakeholders and external experts aiming to: (a) Understand how citizens and the financial industry can influence policies and; (b) Explore and develop products/services for greater financial access.
  • Pilot and document innovative projects/partnerships in the social finance domain.

Outcomes

PlusValue outcomes to date include:

  • Social Impact Investing Exchange (27th January 2016, London), bringing together key stakeholders in social finance from public and private sectors, including WHEB Group, Barclays (Wealth and Investment Management), University College London (UCL, QASER), Johnson & Johnson (Corporate Citizenship Trust), and Rockefeller
  • Network mapping of key social finance players from across Europe and the United States.
  • Policy brief on the “hottest topics” in impact investment, with a focus on mapping and understanding the main issues for social finance players across Europe.
  • Event on changes in impact investing in the UK and Europe following the Brexit referendum, engaging 50 players in the field in a round table discussion on hot topics. Full report on the event available here with technical summary of poll experiment here. Article on the event published here.
  • Publication of “From good to growth: promoting social investment and public good to stimulate the European economy”. F. Lipparini, S. Phillips, F. Addarii and Indy Johar; in Paolo Garonna, Edoardo Reviglio (Ed.), Investing in Long Term Europe: relaunching fixed, network and social infrastructure, Rome: Luiss University Press, 2015, p. 267. Available online here.

The expected overall impact of DOLFINS is to achieve crucial advances in reshaping the policy process to overcome the financial and political crisis faced by the EU. DOLFINS is assembling quantitative tools to evaluate policies aiming to tame systemic risk and to foster sustainable investment. The tools are based on fundamental research combining network models and algorithmic game theory with broader economic insights. This approach provides a more satisfactory understanding of credit, risk, and sustainable investments in an interconnected world. DOLFINS is engaging citizens in the early stage of the policy making process and developing evidence-based narratives in order to better shape policies in the public interest. To this end, DOLFINS takes advantage of semantic web technologies, big data and ICT in general. Given the highly technical nature of key issues in finance, we are exploring how ICT and art can facilitate citizens’ engagement through innovative narratives, leading to better coordinated actions of stakeholders.