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More Transparency Needed On How Banks Use Charities’ Reserves




FRANK Water and Gaia Education, two international charities, have called on UK banks to increase the transparency about what happens to their, and their supporters’, money.

FRANK Water and Gaia Education explain that charities are under increased pressure to prove to supporters that they are transparent, and that the way that banks use their reserves is a part of this supply chain and increased transparency can support their financial decisions.

Katie Alcott, Chief Executive of FRANK Water commented:

As a charity, we are committed to justify to our supporters who kindly donate to us, how we use their money to create an impact, which is essential to keeping their support and maintaining their trust.

“As an international water and sanitation development charity, where possible, we want to ensure that the money that we invest through our reserve savings accounts are being entrusted to banks who are working towards those aims, and not contributing to them by financing fossil fuels for example.

“A lack of bank transparency makes this impossible, it’s very difficult to know that in the time between we receive a donation and when we spend it, that a bank is using them responsibly and isn’t undermining the work that we and the global development community do, unless they have made a commitment to our aims.”

Following research from Triodos Bank in 2015 and 2016 which revealed that three quarters of UK adults believe banks should be more transparent about what they do with their customer’s money, May East of Gaia Education re-iterated that banks which invest responsibly can increase the impact and awareness of their cause.

“As an organisation that’s committed to educating people about climate change and sustainability, we believe that we need to ensure that our investments match our personal beliefs and ethics. Ultimately we think that by choosing a bank that’s aligned with our mission, and encouraging greater transparency in banking, together we can signal a conscious positive move towards tackling climate change and creating a future we all believe in – and are prepared to make the necessary steps towards achieving this.”

Both FRANK Water and Gaia Education are customers of Triodos Bank– a pioneer in sustainable and ethical banking.

Huw Davies, head of retail at Triodos Bank said: “The desire to know how funds are being used symbolises a shift in consumer awareness that savings investments can impact society for better or worse. Banks must respond to this increased awareness by becoming more transparent, enabling their customers to make informed decisions about their finances. Customers have the right to know more about how banks use the money they entrust with them.

Charities, which need our support more than ever during uncertain times, are practicing transparency which their supporters expect. Greater transparency in financial services would allow customers more opportunity to scrutinise banks on their actions. Ultimately this could create an environment where financiers have more incentive to consider the wider impact of their lending and investment decisions, furthering the aims of charities.”

Triodos Bank research

The results from research commissioned in March 2016 show an increased awareness of ethical savings and investments at a time when the financial sector is under increased scrutiny, and a shift in consumer attitudes on climate change.

• 76 per cent of respondents said that banks should be more transparent about their investments
• 50 per cent said that it should be standard practice for banks to make their customers aware of where their money is being invested or lent
• 55 per cent believe banks do not provide enough information on sustainability
Emphasising a rising demand for openness, one in two (50 per cent) consumers also claim it should be standard practice for customers to be made aware of where their money is being invested or lent. Only three per cent said they don’t think it’s necessary for banks to disclose this information.

Consumers are becoming increasingly concerned about how their savings and investments can affect the climate, and most (55 per cent) believe financial institutions do not provide them with enough information on the issue.

The same proportion (55 per cent) said that the environmental events that dominated news headlines in 2015 – including the Volkswagen emissions scandal, flooding in England and the Paris Climate Summit – have shown that more needs to be done to mitigate effects of climate change.

Triodos Bank also conducted consumer research in September 2015. This survey shows that the vast majority (85%) of investors would act if they felt their investments conflicted with their personal ethical preferences. As part of the research, Triodos Bank asked respondents to highlight practices which would stop them investing financially in a particular company, fund or pension. The top five are:

1. Human trafficking – 70%
2. Forced / child labour – 67%
3. Pornography – 49%
4. Animal testing – 45%
5. Arms / munitions – 41%

The research also showed an appetite for ethical investment, with 71% of investors saying they want more of their pensions and investments in environmental and social sectors. Almost half (46%) of investors would like more of their pension or investment products to be invested in renewable energy while 43% would like to invest in healthcare and 37% in sustainable businesses.


New Director Strengthens Quilter Cheviot Charities Team



Quilter Cheviot, a leading investment management firm that forms part of Old Mutual Wealth, has appointed a new Charity Director, Charles Mesquita, as an addition to its charities team.

Charles will join the 10 strong team at the beginning of January, reporting to Head of Charities William Reid. 

Quilter Cheviot’s charities division has funds under management of over £1.5 billion of assets on behalf of 643 charities nationwide, making it a leading charity manager in the UK.

Charles has over 30 years’ investment experience and has worked for a number of leading financial institutions, including Newton Investment Management and Investec Wealth & Investment. Among other key roles at these firms, he was responsible for founding and launching the Charities Property Fund with Savills in 2000: the first Common Investment Fund investing in UK commercial property. Over 1,800 charities have invested in it to date with assets of over £1 billion.

In his new role at Quilter Cheviot, Charles will help develop the firm’s specialist charity capability. 

Charles commented: “It is an exciting time to be joining Quilter Cheviot. Not only do they have an envious track record of delivering robust performance, but also a strong reputation for helping charities with their investments. Quilter Cheviot retain the ethos that the people you meet are the people managing your portfolio. As a trustee, I am only too aware of the challenges facing charities and the value put on having a strong relationship with someone you can trust.”

William Reid head of charities commented “We are delighted to welcome Charles to Quilter Cheviot as he is well qualified to enhance our capabilities. In light of the significant advice gap in the charities sector, the key to help resolving this is to recruit high calibre individuals who not only understand investment but are in tune with the challenges that trustees face.”

Charles is a trustee of Bowel & Cancer Research, RL Glasspool, a grant giving charity which aims to help people step out of poverty, and PRISM, which helps to promote and to facilitate charitable giving in a flexible and efficient manner. Charles also sits on the board of the Charity Investors Group, a forum promoting a greater understanding of investment within the sector.

Investors should remember that the value of investments, and the income from them, can go down as well as up. Investors may not recover what they invest. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

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£6,000 Raised For Charities Through Business Networking Events



Nominate your favourite charity by Howard Lake via flickr

Double Whammy Networking CIC (DW), a social enterprise that organises successful Southend and Castle Point business networking events.

The events focus on effective business networking, but the events are sponsored and at least 60% of the ticket price goes to a ‘charity pot’ to support local charities and good causes.

By the end of 2016, DW had raised a grand total of £6,000 to support 22 different charities and community groups.

Managing director Jill Poet stressed that ensuring quality business networking is always a priority and that, apart from an optional card draw, no fundraising takes place at the actual events. She explained: “I’m a veteran networker myself and I understand the importance of business people being able to attend an event without feeling pressurised to give, give, give.. We just don’t do that, although we often find that excellent long term relationships are established between the business and community sectors. Additionally, our events are ad hoc and there is no joining or membership fee, no commitment to attend regularly, and no requirement to give an elevator pitch. The events are relaxed and ideal for established businesses and start-ups: we make everyone welcome.”

The next event is a networking breakfast sponsored by and to be held at the Arlington Ballrooms in Leigh-on-Sea on 17th January. A basic ticket is just £7.50 including refreshments. £6 from each ticket sold will go towards supporting the SoS Domestic Abuse Project and SAFE (Supporting Asperger Families in Essex)

Booking is essential. Book via this link Or call Jill Poet on 01702 468387 for more information.

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