Robert Smith entered Wall Street over 20 years ago, following in the footsteps of four generations of family members who worked in the investment industry before him.
Early in his career, Robert managed proprietary capital and traders at the world’s leading proprietary trading firm and at the world’s largest market making firm, achieving 66 months of consecutive profitability.
Knight, 2000 Annual Report
After witnessing the attacks on New York’s World Trade Center, something shifted in Robert and it was not long before he retired from trading to pursue a meaningful career with human connection.
He identified early on working in institutional sales that family offices were underserved by most investment banks and there was a strong appetite for impact. Over the next 10 years, Robert built equity capital markets and international equities divisions at boutique investment banks, serving impact investors globally and participating in more than 200 private placements and public offering transactions.
In 2014, having built a trusted network, Robert founded ICV to connect family offices and institutional investors in collaborate and safe environments to evaluate opportunities that create a social impact beyond a financial return.
Since its founding, ICV has hosted more than 20 impact-oriented events around the world, attracting hundreds of thought leaders and investors managing trillions of dollars, and now leads initiatives in partnership with the biggest names in development, the largest government agencies, Nobel Laureates, SDG Advocates, leading scientists and investors to improve health, save lives, build peace and security, achieve gender equality, and regenerate our planet.
Today, Robert serves on the Sustainable Investing Advisory Board of the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF), which makes public and private finance work for the poor in the world’s 47 Least Developed Countries (LDCs).
Robert serves as Business Strategy Advisor to New Frontier Bio, a multi-asset holding company, which leverages the long-term involvement of the Joseph P. Kennedy family in healthcare, to identify, finance and develop novel medical technologies from inception through clinical proof of concept.
Robert serves as a member of the President’s Leadership Council of Jefferson, the largest academic medical center in Philadelphia and recently named 16th on U.S. News & World Report’s 2017-2018 Best Hospitals Honor Roll, a distinction awarded to just 20 hospitals in the U.S.
Robert Smith with Mary Anne Plaatjies van Huffel, President of World Council of Churches (Africa) and peace activist Ela Gandhi, granddaughter of Mahatma Gandhi, at the test site outside Semey, Kazakhstan, where 456 nuclear bombs were detonated.
Building upon his family’s commitment to provide “inspirational and tangible help for young people,” Robert serves as Senior Advisor for Fundraising and Partnerships to the Permanent Secretariat of the World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates, a platform to consolidate peace efforts and strengthen global security, monitor and support the Nobel Peace Laureates, and engage the minds of young people and citizens on real matters that broaden vision and open up new horizons for more peaceful and compassionate thinking; he serves as Senior Advisor to the Africa Rising Foundation, a nonprofit organization founded by Ndaba and Kweku Mandela, grandsons of Nelson Mandela, in order to contribute to the development of the African continent and serve as a conduit for the New African Generation that is committed to promoting Africa through a series of campaigns that address the continent’s socio-economic challenges; he serves as a member of the Board of Directors of the Chaeli Foundation USA, a nonprofit that focuses on growing more inclusive and empowered communities, especially through the inclusion of children, youth and adults with disabilities; he serves a member of the Board of Directors of Childhood Cancer Kids, a nonprofit that increases childhood cancer awareness and elevates the spirits of children with cancer; he serves as a member of the Board of Trustees of The Children’s Village, a nonprofit that works in partnership with families to help society’s most vulnerable children so that they become educationally proficient, economically productive, and socially responsible members of their communities; he serves a member of the Board of Directors of St. Claire Butterfly Foundation, a nonprofit that empowers children and teens to find their voice and unlock their potential through mentorship and skill-development programs based in the creative arts; and, he serves as a member of the Board of Directors of Tuesday’s Children, a response and recovery nonprofit organization that supports youth, families, and communities impacted by terrorism and traumatic loss.
In 2018, Robert was inducted as a member of Evolutionary Leaders, alongside Deepak Chopra, Jack Canfield, Gary Zukav, Bruce Lipton, Gregg Braden, Michael Bernard Beck and other leaders who feel a sense of urgency about the state of our world and are forging a movement for the conscious evolution of humanity, and he was recognized as one of The 100 Visionary Leaders by Real Leaders Magazine, alongside Bill Gates, Mikhail Gorbachev, Leonardo DiCaprio and many others who are leading us towards a better world.
Real Leaders, Spring 2018
Carrying On A Mission
Robert serves as President and a member of the Board of Directors of the Harmon Foundation, a private foundation established in 1922 by his great, great grandfather William E. Harmon for charitable and humanitarian purposes, with an emphasis on “inspirational and tangible help for young people.”
William E. Harmon operated the Wood, Harmon & Co., the largest real estate company in the world at the turn of the century, where he developed the “partial payment plan,” known today as the mortgage loan. After learning about the New York City subway extension, Harmon invested more than $4 million in Brooklyn, comprising over 20,000 building lots, more than any other, which was sold to New Yorkers on small partial payments after a surge in population.
“Land is the gift eternal,” said Mr. Harmon. “Buildings may crumble, endowments fail, but land is forever available. Fifty generations have used the playgrounds that were left as open spaces in the building of Rome, and these same playgrounds will be used for hundreds of generations. The land we set aside today in American towns and cities will serve the boys and girls not only of this generation, but of unnumbered generations to come.” The New York Times, October 23, 1921.
Harmon was fond of saying, “A playground now will be a playground forever, for land is the one thing that does not perish. And children will play!” He established a national and worldwide park system that was so named, “Harmon Playgrounds,” which included playgrounds and recreational fields in 36 states across the nation.
As a businessman who believed it was absolutely necessary to change racial relations in the United States to create a situation where blacks could achieve some economic independence, Harmon inaugurated the Harmon Award in 1926 for distinguished achievements among African Americans in eight different fields: literature, music, fine arts, business and industry, science and innovation, education, religious service, and race relations. Award recipients included Langston Hughes, Archibald John Motley Jr., Claude McKay, Countee Cullen, James Weldon Johnson and others, and was best known for its impact on African American art of the Harlem Renaissance, with works by Richmond Barthé, Lois Mailou Jones, Augusta Savage first exhibited at the Smithsonian Institution in 1944, where the opening ceremony was attended by First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, United States Vice President Henry Wallace, Howard University President Mordecai Wyatt Johnson, pioneering doctor and scientist Charles Drew, and writer and scholar Alain Locke. After the Harlem Renaissance, works of writers, artists and musicians were featured at exhibitions, including Against the Odds at the Newark Museum, where people could view paintings and sculptures, which had generally been thought of as elitist and upper-class, were created by blacks.
In 1927, John D. Rockefeller began campaigning for the “self-financing of education” and gained support from Harmon who created business-like loans, known today as the student loan, where character and group responsibility were used as the basis for credit. This effectively transformed the economics of college to depend on students’ payments.
Robert’s great, great grandfather, Harmon, once announced publicly that he was carrying on the “eternal mission” of his great-grandfather “to bring smiles and tender thoughts to the great in heart in high and low places, to comfort and cheer those who do exceptional things or suffer.”
Upon his death, it was revealed in the New York Times that Harmon was also the mysterious benefactor of lore, Jedediah Tingle, who made thousands of generous financial gifts on an anonymous basis, including to Helen Keller who wrote about Jedediah Tingle in the Boston Daily Globe (1926), “an obscure poet or artist is very likely to find a letter and a check from Jedediah Tingle in his otherwise dreary assortment of morning mail. A mother working to send her boy through school, may hear from him. A hack writer, who has written a little article which shows understanding and love of his fellow humans, may hear from him; a factory worker who is sick, or an old woman who is alone and crippled with rheumatism may receive an unexpected message from Jedediah Tingle.”
“My mission is to seek out the unappreciated genius, to encourage patient merit, to lift up the sick, and follow where misfortune has descended on noble souls, and you may well know that that keeps me busy”
– Jedediah Tingle, Boston Daily Globe, March 24, 1926