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Broadening your horizon: investing in an ethical bond fund

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Bryn Jones, manager of the Rathbone Ethical Bond Fund, spoke with Alex Blackburne about the advantages of investing in bonds over equities – namely, “more security, less volatility, and a more secure income stream”.

Bonds have been a big theme on Blue & Green Tomorrow this week. Firstly, we answered the question, What is a bond? as part of our “What is…” series. And then, IFA Julian Parrott explored the ethical options for potential bond investors with strong moral compasses.

Each week, we profile a different UK ethical or sustainable fund. This week sees the first ethical bond fund thrust under the B&GT spotlight.

The Rathbone Ethical Bond Fund was launched in 2002. Its manager, Bryn Jones, boasts 14 years’ experience in investment and joined the firm two years into the fund’s existence in 2004.

Whilst equities (stocks and shares) see millionaires made or broken in the media, bonds can offer individuals a safer form of investment.

[With bonds, you] get security, less volatility, a more secure income stream, and they also act as a good diversifier”, says Jones.

If you have a portfolio of equities, having a percentage of bond exposure means that your bond funds will perform differently from your equity funds.

There might be a period where your equities are going down but your bonds are going up.”

Diversification is often seen as the key to a successful investment. Placing too much emphasis on one particular asset class is a risky strategy.

From an investment perspective, the Rathbone Ethical Bond Fund’s aim is to generate income of between 5% and 7%, after fees and taxes. Ethically-speaking, the screening process is split into negative and positive criteria.

First of all, if [the company] is involved in any one of the following, it cannot go into the portfolio: alcohol, animal testing, armaments, environmentally unsustainable or high-impact activities, gambling, nuclear power, pornography and tobacco.

If it passes that screening process, it then has to have at least one positive aspect.

These include: corporate community investment, human rights, management in environmental impacts and provision of beneficial services and products.

This process really does lead to some really good strong investments in the portfolio.”

He believes that this ethical screen, along with the fund’s “good investment process, good performance and good yield”, help the Rathbone Ethical Bond Fund stand out from competitors.

Whilst some so-called sustainable funds do, in fact, invest in oil companies or car manufacturers, the dark green ethical screen implemented by Rathbone disallows its Ethical Bond Fund from doing so.

Many investment firms offer ethical or sustainable funds merely as a token, but Jones says Rathbone takes ethical investment very seriously – exemplified by its award-winning specialist ethical investment arm, Rathbone Greenbank Investments.

They were at the forefront of building ethical investment, having been around since 1992”, he explains.

If a client doesn’t know whether they want to buy bonds or equities or other asset classes, they can come in with £250,000 and give their money to Rathbone Greenbank, which will manage the money purely on an ethical portfolio service.

It has about 500 accounts and manages in excess of £350 million. So as you can see, we do take it quite seriously.”

One of Blue & Green Tomorrow’s primary aims is to promote ethical, sustainable or responsible investment to a wider audience – an audience that perhaps hasn’t considered the alternatives to mainstream investment.

And with £11 billion of private investors’ money currently invested in the ethical space—a figure that’s rapidly growing—it’s certainly a sector that is on the rise.

Jones says there are two reasons for this shift: financial and moral.

Companies that damage the environment, damage society, and damage other things should get financially taxed for that, whether it is through regulation or people not buying their products”, he claims.

Financially, companies are going to get hurt, if they don’t follow this process.

Then there’s the moral issue. If you have to choose between two companies to invest in, and their profits are pretty much the same, why not look at the company that’s actually doing better for society and doing better for the environment?

If the two companies are giving equal profits, any person in the world with a strong moral attitude would choose the company that’s providing other beneficial services to the world.”

This attitude, Jones says, has blossomed in many an investor’s portfolio over recent years. To echo what IFA Lee Smythe told B&GT last year, People are good.

Those three simple words perfectly describe why investors should take a more ethical stance. Most investors, given time to think, would avoid funding child labour projects or environmental destruction. Investing for financial return and investing for the future are becoming increasingly entwined; ethical and sustainable investments balance both.

To find out more about the Ethical Bond Fund, have a look at Rathbone’s website. Alternatively, if you’re interested in ethical or sustainable investment more broadly, download our free Guide to Sustainable Investment.

As always, we recommend that you seek professional financial advice. Fill in our online form and we’ll put you in touch with a specialist adviser.

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What Kitchen Suits Your Style? Modern, Classic or Shaker?

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shaker kitchen designs

A kitchen is the centre of the home. Your kitchen ranges between where friends and family gather, talk about their day, cook meals, have drinks, to somewhere you can just enjoy each other’s company. The kitchen is the heart of the home. But, everyone’s lifestyle is different. Everyone’s taste is different. So, you need a kitchen that not only mirrors your lifestyle but matches your taste too. Whilst some prefer a more traditional design, others want a modern feel or flair – and it’s all down to personal taste.

When it comes to redesigning your kitchen, what style would you go for? It’s a difficult one isn’t it. With so many different styles to go for, how can you know exactly what you want until you’ve seen it in action? Leading kitchen designer, Roman Kitchens, based in Essex, have provided three examples of bespoke kitchens and styles they specialise in, accompanied with beautiful images. This design guide will get you one step closer to picking your dream kitchen for your home.

1. Modern

New home in the city centre? Or even a sleek new modern build? You want a trendy and modern kitchen to reflect your city lifestyle. In modern kitchen design, colours are bolder and fresher, with sleek design and utilities that are distinctive and vibrant.

modern kitchen designs

This modern kitchen is sleek and smooth with flawless design and beauty. Minimalism doesn’t stop this kitchen standing out. Featured walls of wood and vibrant mint green draw the eye, whilst the white surfaces reflect the light, illuminating every nook and cranny of this kitchen. This kitchen features products from Rotpunkt, innovators of modern kitchen design. Made with German engineering, a Rotpunkt Kitchen is the ultimate modern addition to your home. Rotpunkt Kitchens have timeless design and amazing functionality, they work for every purpose and are eco-friendly. Sourced from natural materials, a Rotpunkt kitchen uses 37% less timber, conserving natural forests and being more environmentally conscious.

2. Classic

Prefer a homely and traditional feel? Classic kitchens are warm, welcoming and filled with wood. Wood flooring, wood fixtures, wood furniture – you name it! You can bring a rustic feel to your urban home with a classic kitchen. Subtle colours and beautiful finishes, Classic kitchens are for taking it back to the basics with a definitive look and feel.

classic kitchen designs

With stated handles for cupboards, Classic kitchens are effortlessly timeless. They convey an elegant but relaxing nature. Giving off countryside vibes, natural elements convey a British countryside feel. The wood featured in a classic kitchen can range between oaks and walnut, creating a warmth and original feel to your home. Soft English heritage colours add a certain mood to your home, softening the light making it cosier.

3. Shaker

Any kitchen planner will tell you that the meeting point between traditional and modern design, is a Shaker kitchen. They have a distinctive style and innovative feel. Shakers are fresh, mixing different colour tones with stylish wood and vinyl. The most important feature of a Shaker kitchen is functionality – every feature needs to serve a purpose in the kitchen. Paired with stylish and unique furniture, a Shaker kitchen is an ideal addition to any home.

shaker kitchen designs

The ultimate marriage between Classic and Modern kitchens, this Shaker kitchen has deep colour tones with copper emphasis features. All the fittings and fixtures blur the line of modern and tradition, with a Classic look but modern colour vibe. Unique furniture and design make Shaker Kitchens perfect for the middle ground in kitchen design. Minimal but beautifully dressed. Traditional but bold and modern at the same time. Storage solutions are part of the functionality of Shaker kitchens, but don’t detour from conveying yours as a luxury kitchen.

Whatever you choose for your new kitchen, be it Modern, Classic or Shaker – pick whatever suits you. Taste is, and always will be, subjective – it’s down to you.

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Features

Ways Green Preppers Are Trying to Protect their Privacy

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Environmental activists are not given the admiration that they deserve. A recent poll by Gallup found that a whopping 32% of Americans still doubt the existence of global warming. The government’s attitude is even worse.

Many global warming activists and green preppers have raised the alarm bell on climate change over the past few years. Government officials have taken notice and begun tracking their activity online. Even former National Guard officers have admitted that green preppers and climate activists are being targeted for terrorist watchlists.

Of course, the extent of their surveillance depends on the context of activism. People that make benign claims about climate change are unlikely to end up on a watchlist, although it is possible if they make allusions to their disdain of the government. However, even the most pacifistic and well intentioned environmental activists may unwittingly trigger some algorithm and be on the wrong side of a criminal investigation.

How could something like this happen? Here are some possibilities:

  • They could share a post on social media from a climate extremist group or another individual on the climate watchlist.
  • They could overly politicize their social media content, such as being highly critical of the president.
  • They could use figures of speech that may be misinterpreted as threats.
  • They might praise the goals of a climate change extremist organization that as previously resorted to violence, even if they don’t condone the actual means.

Preppers and environmental activists must do everything in their power to protect their privacy. Failing to do so could cost them their reputation, future career opportunities or even their freedom. Here are some ways that they are contacting themselves.

Living Off the Grid and Only Venturing to Civilization for Online Use

The more digital footprints you leave behind, the greater attention you draw. People that hold controversial views on environmentalism or doomsday prepping must minimize their digital paper trail.

Living off the grid is probably the best way to protect your privacy. You can make occasional trips to town to use the Wi-Fi and stock up on supplies.

Know the Surveillance Policies of Public Wi-Fi Providers

Using Wi-Fi away from your home can be a good way to protect your privacy.However, choosing the right public Wi-Fi providers is going to be very important.

Keep in mind that some corporate coffee shops such a Starbucks can store tapes for up to 60 days. Mom and pop businesses don’t have the technology nor the interest to store them that long. They generally store tips for only 24 hours and delete them afterwards. This gives you a good window of opportunity to post your thoughts on climate change without being detected.

Always use a VPN with a No Logging Policy

Using a VPN is one of the best ways to protect your online privacy. However, some of these providers do a much better job than others. What is a VPN and what should you look for when choosing one? Here are some things to look for when making a selection:

  • Make sure they are based in a country that has strict laws on protecting user privacy. VPNs that are based out of Switzerland, Panama for the British Virgin Islands are always good bets.
  • Look for VPN that has a strict no logging policy. Some VPNs will actually track the websites that you visit, which almost entirely defeats the purpose. Most obviously much better than this, but many also track Your connections and logging data. You want to use a VPN that doesn’t keep any logs at all.
  • Try to choose a VPN that has an Internet kill switch. This means that all content will stop serving if your VPN connection drops, which prevents your personal data from leaking out of the VPN tunnel.

You will be much safer if you use a high-quality VPN consistently, especially if you have controversial views on climate related issues or doomsday prepping.

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