In April 2021, following a wave of racial and social unrest, New York Life solidified its commitment to actionable change by launching a $1 billion impact investment initiative. NYL seeks to help bridge the racial wealth gap by investing in underserved and undercapitalized communities. Specifically, we deploy capital to support affordable housing, small businesses, and community development. Our goal is to create positive social outcomes while also seeking to deliver sustainable risk-adjusted returns. These two objectives are not mutually exclusive. In fact, we believe investing in underserved communities potentially leads to more business development which begets meaningful social and economic returns, a virtuous cycle.

Why the Racial Wealth Gap?

As one of the largest life insurance companies in the United States, NYL is keenly aware that financial well-being is inextricably linked to favorable life outcomes. As such, we remain committed to doing our part to help ensure that all people have equal opportunities for a good life. However, generations of inequality across various social structures and policies have created vast disparities in wealth along racial lines.

In the US today, the median wealth of a Black family is 10% of their White counterparts1. This imbalance has severe consequences. For example, people living in low-wealth zip codes may have a life span that is 20 to 30 years less than those living in wealthier zip codes2. The Covid-19 pandemic has only widened these chasms and foreshadows an unsustainable future in the absence of enduring change. NYL recognizes the urgency to address America’s racial wealth disparities and has tailored its impact investing strategy to that end.

Our Focus

To help bridge the racial wealth gap, our impact strategy is centered on developing large-scale solutions and investment structures that deliver broad and inclusive economic outcomes linked to personal and household advancement, job growth, and health and wellness. We believe we can achieve this by focusing on the following impact areas:

Affordable Housing

  • Economic opportunity cannot exist without safe and affordable housing. NYL believes affordable housing represents the greatest opportunity to deploy capital at a large scale and directly improves financial well-being. In the US, more than 7 million new affordable housing units are needed to meet current demand3. What’s worse, many existing affordable units are in danger of becoming market rate rentals if they are not recapitalized.

  • This need creates a mutually beneficial opportunity for us to provide market rate financing that helps create and preserve affordable housing properties. We can achieve this by investing in federally awarded Low Income Housing Tax Credits, which are the foundation for most new affordable housing units. We also plan to make direct, and other indirect, investments into affordable multi-family housing projects.
     

Small Business

  • Small businesses are the lifeblood of most communities and must thrive in order for those neighborhoods to prosper. Small business success is directly tied to individual employment opportunities and economic stability. However, minority entrepreneurs are often held back by limited access to “friends and family” assistance and relationship driven venture capital and private equity.

  • By investing in diverse asset managers, who tend to support a higher proportion of companies with diverse ownership and leadership teams, NYL can extend its reach to hundreds of small businesses in communities that have been traditionally underserved.

 

Community Development

  • Support for community services that enhance health and wellness, childcare, education, financial literacy, and credit building will help accelerate economic empowerment.

  • By investing in Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI’s) and alongside other mission-aligned organizations, we can magnify the impact of our individual efforts to deliver meaningful outcomes.

Our Approach

No single institution alone can bridge the gulf caused by generations of inequity, however, there is power in numbers. NYL has partnered with diverse asset managers, federally chartered CDFI’s, and other mission-driven organizations to amplify our impact objectives. When coupled with our well-established institutional capabilities across private credit, private equity, real estate, and public markets, these partnerships potentially will ensure that we are using best-in-class strategies to achieve our impact and return objectives.  

Our Progress

In the first eighteen months of the program, NYL fully committed the $1 billion across various investments that are at the heart of our impact thesis, and we continue to seek additional investment opportunities to expand the program beyond our initial target.  Some key highlights of our program include:

  • Over $550 million of investments into Low Income Housing Tax Credit Funds and other vehicles that support affordable housing developments across the country.
  • $60 million of investments in new loans to support the development and renovation of homeless shelters in New York City. These shelters not only provide housing units, but also critical social services.
  • $200 million committed to Fairview Capital, a minority led fund-of-funds manager that invests in emerging fund managers who in turn, predominately invest in diverse led small businesses.
  • Over $150 million committed to various CDFI’s and mission-aligned asset managers like Enterprise Community Partners, Century Housing, and Impact Community Capital. These organizations are focused on affordable housing and community development projects in low-and-moderate income areas.

Impact Measurement and Tracking

To ensure that we are meeting both our impact and return objectives, NYL tracks the dollars we invest to capture immediate community outcomes like the number of businesses supported and housing units created or preserved. Longer term, we will work with our partners to develop systems that can help measure the multiplier effect from our investments to track the impact on wellness, education, and economic activity in the local community. 

Units Created/Preserved
Fund Commitments by Ethnicity

While there is plenty of work left to be done, we are encouraged by the momentum of our program thus far and are excited about the contributions of the life insurance industry to address social impact initiatives. We also hope that our endeavors encourage other leading life insurers to develop their own impact investing initiatives. NYL looks forward to collaborating with industry peers to demonstrate our combined commitment to effect positive social change.

Advisory Board

NYL has assembled an advisory board of industry leading executives who are instrumental to the success of our impact investing initiative. Members include: Lori Chatman, Co- CEO (interim), Enterprise Community Partners; Julie Herwig, Senior Vice President, Head of the Office of Governmental Affairs at New York Life; Chauvon McFadden, Principal, Crimson Wealth Strategies LLC; Dr. Laurence Morse, Co-founder and Managing Partner, Fairview Capital Partners; George Nichols, President and CEO, The American College of Financial Services; and Roy Swan, Director, Mission Investments at the Ford Foundation.

NYL Impact Investing Team

NYL Investors manages and provides oversight for certain assets of the NYL General Account.

Tony Malloy

Anthony Malloy

Executive Vice President, Chief Investment Officer

Martin King

Managing Director, Head of Investment Grade Credit Team and Impact Investing

Christopher Thompson

Senior Director, Impact Investing

Phillip Holder

Senior Associate, Impact Investing

References

  1. Brookings, https://www.brookings.edu/blog/up-front/2020/02/27/examining-the-black-white-wealth-gap/
  2. Jessica Owens-Young, PhD, Assistant Professor of Health Studies at American University, https://www.bluezones.com/2020/02/zip-code-effect-your-neighborhood-determines-your-lifespan/
  3. https://nlihc.org/news/us-has-national-shortage-more-72-million-affordable-available-rental-homes-families-most-need

 

Data herein are current as of the date appearing in this material only. This material is for informational purposes only and should be constructed as an investment advice or an offer or solicitation to buy or sell securities. This material contains examples of NYL Impact Investing and is not intended to represent any product or strategy offered by NYL Investors LLC.

Impact Investing Risk: Impact investing may take into consideration factors beyond traditional financial information to select investment, which could result in relative investment performance deviating from other strategies or broad market benchmarks, depending on whether such sectors or investments are in or out of favor in the market. Further, manager may rely on certain values based criteria to eliminate exposures found in similar strategies or broad market benchmarks, which could also result in relative investment performance deviating.

NYL Investors LLC (“NYL Investors”) is a wholly owned subsidiary of New York Life Insurance Company. NYL Investors affiliates may develop and publish research that is independent of, and different than, the views expressed.  Past performance is not a guarantee of future performance results.

About New York Life

New York Life Insurance Company (www.newyorklife.com), a Fortune 100 company founded in 1845, is the largest mutual life insurance company in the United States1 and one of the largest life insurers in the world. Headquartered in New York City, New York Life’s family of companies offers life insurance, retirement income, investments and long-term care insurance. New York Life has the highest financial strength ratings currently awarded to any U.S. life insurer from all four of the major credit rating agencies.2.

1. Fortune 100 (#72). Based on revenue as reported by “Fortune 500 ranked within Industries, Insurance: Life, Health (Mutual),” Fortune magazine, 5/23/22. For methodology, please see http://fortune.com/fortune500/

2. Standard & Poor’s (AA+); A.M. Best (A++); Moody’s (Aaa); and Fitch (AAA). Source: Individual Third-Party Ratings Reports as of 10/18/2022. Ratings are based on the financial strength of New York Life and do not apply to any investment products as they are subject to market risk and will fluctuate.