California Commissioner Launches Diversity Initiative, Names COIN Board Members

California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara on Wednesday announced the launched an “Invest in Our Diverse Communities” initiative to identify diverse woman-, veteran-, LGBTQ, Latinx, Asian Pacific Islander, Black, and Native American-owned investment managers who can guide investments made by insurers into socially responsible affordable housing and environmental projects across the state.

The initiative will identify investments managed or owned by diverse investment leaders to fund targeted projects with social benefits in the state, and is part of the California Department of Insurance’s California Organized Investment Network.

COIN is a program created in 1996 to increase insurance industry capital in underserved, low-to-moderate and rural communities throughout California.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the inequality in wealth that continues to persist in communities across our state, which I believe the insurance industry can help to tackle through socially responsible investments,” Lara said in a statement. ”

Lara’s initiative will add COIN-qualified investment opportunities owned and managed by diverse firms to the Impact Investment Marketplace, an online “central clearinghouse” portal the CDI launched in 2019. COIN-qualified investment opportunities address areas requiring immediate attention, such as healthcare, homelessness and environmental sustainability.

COIN also works with certified Community Development Financial Institutions to help them source funding through insurance company direct investments and public bond offerings. COIN sources CDFI capital-raising initiatives and gauges initial interest from insurers for public offerings of CDFI securities. COIN also notifies insurers of potential investment opportunities in CDFIs and regularly meets with insurer investment staff to “matchmake” specific CDFIs to insurers’ investment portfolio strategies.

Lara also announced his appointments to the COIN Advisory Board. The newest members include the board’s first representative with experience seeking investments that provide environmental benefits, a seat created on Jan. 1 by Assembly Bill 1099, authored by State Assembly Majority Leader Ian Calderon.

New members of the COIN board, whose terms all end on July 1, 2022, are: