Real Estate

Finance & Economy

Doing good and doing well: Bobby Turner, CEO of Turner Impact

November 30, 2022

Doing good and doing well: Bobby Turner, CEO of Turner Impact

Bobby Tuner

Princiap and CEO, Turner Impact Capital

Bobby Turner talks about the importance of pursuing social good, including his 25-plus years in the social impact investment space.

Many people think that doing good and doing well are mutually exclusive and that profits and purpose don’t play nicely in the sandbox. But this Walker Webcast guest disagrees.

Bobby Turner sat down with Willy to talk about the importance of pursuing social good, including his 25-plus years in the social impact investment space and how he built and grew Turner Impact Capital into one of the nation’s largest social impact investment firms.

The conversation starts with sports, “a great platform for becoming a successful businessman.” Bobby talks about his athletic career in tennis and lacrosse and the “3 Q’s” necessary for success: the iQ (intellectual quotient), the eQ (emotional quotient), and aQ (adaptable quotient).  

He also talks about growing up in Baltimore, where he gained both diverse perspectives and access to the American Dream. “I did not grow up wealthy by any means,” he says, “but I did grow up believing that with hard work, a decent education, access to healthcare, and a bit of luck, I could become successful later in life.” 

But for too many people, this dream has become eclipsed by food insecurity, healthcare insecurity, and living paycheck to paycheck, he says. “There are millions of Americans today whose educational, healthcare and financial outcomes are predetermined by the environment they are born into.” The end result: a lack of hope. 

Bobby shares more with Willy about his own personal experiences. He graduated from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania “with a black belt in how to create wealth” and assumed that the creation of wealth would bring a corresponding sense of happiness. “Which of course it didn’t,” he says. “As a young man, I found myself in an environment which measures success by just making money.” 

By his mid-30s, he realized that doing good and doing well didn’t have to be exclusive and that “to truly address systemic changes, you had to harness market forces.” 

In 1998, Bobby and basketball star Magic Johnson founded the Canyon-Johnson Urban Funds, which deploys capital in the three areas of education, housing, and healthcare. In 2014, Bobby founded Turner Impact Capital, “a builder of schools and a buyer of multi-family assets.” 

“It is not sustainable to have 50% of renter households rent-burdened and 1 million families spending upwards of 60% of their income on rent at the expense of other essential necessities,” Bobby declares. “Capitalism needs a major evolution and corporate leaders willing to follow up on their promises.” 

Over the past seven years, Turner Impact Capital  has raised about $5 billion for infrastructure that addresses community needs, serving over 120,000 healthcare patients and getting 62,000 students into their charter school system so far. In addition, the company just sold a portfolio of 24,000 apartment units, Bobby reveals. 

But these investments in social change did not come at the expense of profit, he explains. He talks about passive and active impact investing and about value investing, “which requires one to scour the marketplace for opportunities that are overlooked, misperceived, and difficult to underwrite.” 

How do such actions translate into making money? Recruiting people who want to do good and rewarding them for giving back to their communities is a self-fulfilling prophecy, Bobby says. “If you can create a sense of community, people will feel compelled to stick around and do their part for the greater good.” 

“We need to educate as many people as possible that doing good, doing well is a great business model and a business model you feel really good about participating in,” Bobby concludes. 

Read Transcript

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