Answer to the World’s Migrant Crisis (Walls Not Included)

Global migration fears are shaping politics more than at any time since the Second World War.

From the Brexit vote shattering the dream of European union to the populist appeal of Donald Trump’s Mexican wall, the knee-jerk political response has predominantly been about protecting rich countries from being over-run by waves of poor.

Yet a few maverick investors in emerging markets are pushing for a different answer. One of the advocates is our guest on this week’s Emerging Opportunities podcast. Paul Robinson is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Alquity, a company whose name fuses altruism with equity. In a candid review of progress since establishing his company, Robinson ponders whether he’s been too idealistic for the hard-nosed world of wealth management:

“The mantra that everyone in the world deserves an opportunity to win, irrespective of where they are born, is hard wired into me. Events of the last year have reinforced this.

Our world is at a crucial juncture and the industry we operate in is vitally important. How we deploy capital and resources shapes our societies. The coming decades will require great changes in how the world connects. With 2 billion more poor people joining the planet over the next 25 years, in a world where they will all be digitally connected and have a view on how others live, it is not feasible to think they will sit idly on the side lines, starved of opportunity or even basic living conditions. If we offer them no opportunity then they will take action. The migration crisis we are seeing is a tiny tip of the iceberg.

There are two options I see for the rich world. Either build huge walls to keep the poor out and live in a privileged protected fortress whilst they suffer, or work to create economic progress and opportunity.

When we launched Alquity, we imagined a firm that delivers top returns but that invests only in the most responsible businesses, and helps lift some of the poorest people on the planet out of poverty.

What worries me is whether we’re too early for this industry. I believe that if we deliver returns that beat our competitors, do it by investing responsibly, and put back into the societies in which we invest, then all investors will love our approach. But could I be mistaken? Is the industry just too wedded to the big brand names and maintaining the status quo? I worry about the appetite for a better world.”

Listen to Paul Robinson’s interview with Gavin Serkin.