Under the hood of the Impact Plan

Clare Reilly

by , Chief Engagement Officer

at PensionBee

10 Nov 2023 /  

Impact Plan imagery.

Earlier this year we launched our new Impact Plan in collaboration with BlackRock, one of the world’s biggest money managers. This gave our customers the opportunity to invest in companies that are addressing the world’s great social and environmental problems, whilst saving for retirement. The Impact Plan offers active investment in a diversified portfolio of companies that are helping to build a better future for our planet and society. These companies are providing solutions to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) and the transition to net zero. In other words, the Impact Plan has an investment style that differs from our other plans.

Our Impact Plan invests in many publicly-listed companies, some earlier on in their growth journey and others that are more well known, like Bank Rakyat and Wise. This is a higher risk investment strategy than exclusively investing in larger, more mature companies - but it can also be more rewarding over the long-term. Investing in younger companies, with the potential for high growth, can lead to big gains. That’s because these companies have the chance to grow quickly as they develop new products, enter new markets, and gain customers. They also have the opportunity to continue this growth trajectory in the future, making them suitable for long-term investment via pension plans.

Curious about the Impact Plan, and why it’s important to ride out the short-term volatility for long-term growth? Read on to learn more.

Understanding the Impact Plan’s recent performance

It’s been a bumpy start for our new impact investors. The combined value of the Impact Plan’s underlying investments has fallen by 8.6%, from its launch on 15 February to the latest reporting on 30 September 2023.

The Impact Plan invests in around 200-300 companies with strong business models, long-term growth potential, and proven positive impact through their products and services. These companies may be smaller and more innovative, which can make them more volatile in the short-term.

Additionally, due to rising interest rates, funding is being diverted away from other sectors and into artificial intelligence stocks. The Impact Plan invests in some sectors that have been hit hard by the lack of recent investment, such as healthcare and renewable energy.

Here are some things to keep in mind about the Impact Plan’s investment strategy.

  • The plan is focused on long-term growth. This means it may invest in sectors that are currently underperforming the market, such as healthcare and affordable housing, but which have the potential to generate strong returns over the long-term.
  • The plan also invests significantly in the renewable energy sector, which has struggled due to concerns about rising interest rates.

The combination of these elements has put a strain on the plan, but the upside is these factors are short-term and the Impact Plan is well-positioned for long-term growth.

Decoding the S&P 500’s comparative success

A stock market index is like a shopping cart full of different company shares. The value of the index is a measure of how well all of the companies in the index are performing. The S&P 500 is a stock market index that tracks the performance of 500 of the largest publicly-traded companies in the US.

When comparing the Impact Plan’s performance to the broader stock market, it is also important to understand what the Impact Plan doesn’t invest in and how those sectors have performed.

Here are some things to keep in mind about the Impact Plan’s investment strategy.

Currently a top-heavy and ultra-narrow US equity market means the share prices of a small number of very big companies are doing really well, while most companies’ share prices aren’t. In 2023, S&P 500 returns can be attributed to the significant outperformance of just seven high value companies, also known as the ‘Magnificent Seven‘. This uneven distribution of profit gains is driven by gains from artificial intelligence (AI).

If you removed the impact of the Magnificent Seven from the S&P 500, you’d find that overall growth of the other 493 companies was flat in 2023. That means that any pension plan that doesn’t include, or had low exposure to, these seven companies wouldn’t have benefited from the gains made by these companies’ technological advancements in AI.

In the case of the Impact Plan, the companies that make up the Magnificent Seven don’t have enough impact characteristics to be included in the plan’s portfolio. The team at BlackRock is trained to identify companies helping to solve the world’s greatest challenges. They look for companies whose products and services are aligned to advance over 50% of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, criteria that these stocks don’t currently meet.

Long-term outlook for the Impact Plan companies

The Impact Plan launched in February 2023 with a bold mission: to make a positive social and environmental impact, while generating market-rate returns over five years or more. Whilst 2023 has so far been a challenging year for companies outside of the AI sector, there’s still significant potential for the Impact Plan to achieve its goals.

The multi-trillion dollar shortfall between the money needed to address world issues and the current amount invested is substantial. Businesses well-positioned to take advantage of this backdrop will have a positive impact on our planet and the societies we live in, while offering a long-term investment opportunity. This is where the team at BlackRock ensures the portfolio for the Impact Plan is invested.

Companies that are well-positioned to benefit from long-term trends, such as the transition to a clean energy economy, could generate strong returns for savers over time. Here’s a spotlight on some of the companies that make up the top 20 holdings of the Impact Plan.


Autodesk makes software for architects, builders, engineers, designers, manufacturers, 3D artists and production teams. For example, their design and technology has been used to build water resilience across the world, enabling cities to plan for, mitigate, and respond to floods, hurricanes, droughts and other catastrophic climate events that can impact infrastructure. Autodesk’s impact theme is Pollution Remediation & Prevention.

Company Performance over year to date (%) Performance over 5 years (%)
Autodesk +11.6% +51.6%

Source: Financial Times, data as of 8 November 2023.


Danaher is a set of businesses and brands advancing human health through the production and manufacture of medical, dental, biotechnology and diagnostics tools. They also support the life sciences industry in faster development of pioneering innovations in the field of vaccines, cell therapy and treatment of genetic disease. Danaher’s impact theme is Public Health.

Company Performance over year to date (%) Performance over 5 years (%)
Danaher +23.6% +90.5%

Source: Financial Times, data as of 8 November 2023.


Halma is a group of around 45 small to medium-sized businesses operating in more than 20 countries. Its companies focus on developing life-saving technology products, such as safety equipment for workplaces and medical technologies for patients. Halma’s well-positioned to grow as a company, as it invests in niche markets with ‘long-term growth drivers’. For example, investing in healthcare services as demand increases due to people living longer. Halma looks to invest in and grow its businesses whilst aiming to double its earnings every five years. Halma’s impact theme is Safety and Security.

Company Performance over year to date (%) Performance over 5 years (%)
Halma -6.4% +44.3%

Source: Financial Times, data as of 8 November 2023.

Schneider Electric

Schneider Electric produces a vast range of products and services across the energy management and automation space. Products include sustainable energy consumption devices, cybersecurity, cooling systems and smart grids. Schneider Electric’s impact theme is Efficiency, Electrification, Digitization.

Company Performance over year to date (%) Performance over 5 years (%)
Schneider Electric +13.9% +136.6%

Source: Financial Times, data as of 8 November 2023.

Thermo Fisher Scientific

Thermo Fisher Scientific manufactures scientific instruments, laboratory equipment, life sciences solutions and diagnostic tools. With more than $44 billion in revenue (2022) and more than 100 years experience, Thermo Fisher Scientific is an established global leader across healthcare, environment and research. Thermo Fisher Scientific’s impact theme is Public Health.

Company Performance over year to date (%) Performance over 5 years (%)
Thermo Fisher Scientific -16.9% +88.0%

Source: Financial Times, data as of 8 November 2023.

Stock markets go down as well as up. While there will always be challenges in the market, investors can increase their chances of generating strong returns over time by investing in companies well-positioned for long-term growth.

Have a question? Get in touch!

You may find yourself rethinking your pension savings during the cost of living crisis, or worrying about whether you’re making the right choices. If you’ve seen volatility in your pension balance, you can read our blog to learn more: When will my pension balance recover?. It’s worth remembering that it’s normal and expected for pensions to go up and down in value over time. You can visit our Plans page to learn how your money is invested in different assets and locations. You can always send comments and questions to our team via engagement@pensionbee.com.

Risk warning

As always with investments, your capital is at risk. The value of your investment can go down as well as up, and you may get back less than you invest. This information should not be regarded as financial advice.

Be pension confident!

Combine your old pension pots into one new online plan. It takes just a few minutes to sign up.

Get started

Mobile PensionBee analytics chart
Mobile PensionBee analytics chart
Apple Store logo Google Store logo