Developing a New Profession: The Social Impact Analyst

Social Finance - Fri, 06/14/2013 - 09:00

By Kate Ruff

For our Friday Video of the week, we've chosen to feature the presentation given by Kate Ruff at the most recent Social Impact Analyst Association Conference. Ruff's video is embedded below, but here's a teaser to get you interested: 

In the mid-1800s, it was far from obvious that anyone could ever standardize financial reporting. While today, income statements and uniform measures of financial profit are ubiquitous, it wasn’t too long ago that such indicators were deemed too unique and complex to measure. So goes the argument by Kate Ruff, in her presentation at the most recent Social Impact Analyst Association Conference, about the necessitity for the establishment of a new profession: the social impact analyst. 

In this Video of the Week, Ruff explores the “necessity” for the establishment a profession of certified social impact analysts. “Not only can a profession of social impact analysts change the world,” Ruff explains, “but I believe that it is the thing that will have the greatest effect on how effectively we can create the world that the people in this room believe in, a world where capital flows to social impact.”

In this 15-minute long video, Ruff outlines why she believes a new profession is necessary, how SIAA might work to create a profession of social impact analysts, and what exactly a new profession might mean. 

In Part 2, Ruff explains how a profession of social impct analysts might be established: 

For the time-constrained, a few highlights from the presentation

  • In the establishment of a SIA certification there is tension between “flexibility and comparability
  • Traditional financial accounting relies on analysts to decipher statements that are founded on the principle of “bounded flexibility,” a compromise between flexibility and comparability
  • The codification of standard metrics for impact should not be based upon the demands of “naive” consumers, as many donors, clients etc. don’t have a thorough understanding of the potential metrics that might be used
  • Impact analysts could be the thought leaders, because they know what questions need to be asked "in order to get the right answers”
  • A profession of financial analysts has been able to create an institutional form around a body of knowledge
  • Adoption and adherace to a common set of standards is essential. This has been seen in the adoption and adherance of ISO standards, engineering standards, and neighborhood football rules and regulations 
  • There is a body of knowledge in sociology that studies professions that asks ‘why are some jobs prestigious and others not?’ Ruff explains that there is a strong correlation between the more a group of people have articulated and protected a body of knowledge (with tests and exams), with the higher paid they are likely to be

More information can be found on Social Impact Analysts Association website, and a listing of there upcoming events can be found here

We want your thoughts! What's your perspective? Is there a need for a new profession of Social Impact Analysts?