Turning your money green | Personal Finance | Finance



People are taking a stand by investing in so-called ethical or socially responsible investment funds instead.

Ethical investment managers try to filter out the bad guys so you can invest with a clean conscience.

However, it is not always easy being green.


The UK market for socially responsible investing is tipped to grow rapidly over the next decade, rising 173 per cent to be worth £48billion by 2027.

One in five is now planning to invest in an ethical fund.

Younger investors are keenest, with almost half aged between 18 and 34 wanting to invest in a socially responsible way, according to Triodos Bank.

Many older investors also want a better world.

They include retired headteacher Alasdair Macdonald, 70, who lives with his wife Kate in Glasgow, where he helps manage community gardens and supports those with learning difficulties.

He runs his money with Triodos which promises “everyday banking with values” and offers ethical funds.

Macdonald said: “All we want is fair and modest returns and for our money to have a positive impact, and that’s exactly what we’ve got.”

He added mainstream banks place too much focus on optimising profit and shareholder value: “I much prefer a bank that provides support and loans to help small businesses grow sustainably.”

More than half of investors say they would like their money to support socially responsible companies, but almost three quarters say they have never been offered ethical investments, Triodos research shows.

Managing director Bevis Watts said there is no such thing as a neutral investment as every one has an impact on individuals, society and the economy. LIGHT OR DARK There are two types of ethical fund, described as dark and light.

Dark green funds have stricter criteria and may invest in, say, wind and solar energy firms, while blocking sectors such as oil, arms, tobacco, gambling and pornography.

A lighter green fund might invest in, say, a fossil fuel company that is “best in class”, such as an oil firm investing in cleaner energy.

Camilla Ritchie, lead manager on the 7IM Sustainable Balance Fund, said funds come in every shade of green: “You need to check that the manager’s rules match your own ethical priorities.”

Fund priorities change over time.

“As the obesity crisis grows ethical funds may focus on companies that promote healthy eating, or even veganism,” she added.


Patrick Connolly, chartered financial planner at IFAs Chase De Vere, said investors could miss out on growth from strong performing sectors such as tobacco, oil and gas: “Ethical funds can also be skewed toward mid and small cap companies, as these are less likely to cause harm or damage.”

Connolly warned that ethical funds are a low priority among many asset managers, as the money and talent drifts elsewhere.

Yet the sector has performed well lately, returning 34.5 per cent over the last five years, marginally beating the UK All Companies sector, according to Trustnet.com.

He recommends “dark green” fund Kames Ethical Equity, which shuns big oil, banking, pharmaceutical and supermarket stocks and is up 40 per cent over five years.

He also tips a “light green” fund called F&C Responsible UK Equity Growth, which is up 58 per cent over five years, and Rathbone Ethical Bond, which has returned 36 per cent over five years.

However, even the best ethical funds cannot guarantee that they will continue cleaning up in future.


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