National Ethical Investment Week (NEIW) – the event that brings together investors, financial advisers, fund managers, charities, faith groups and more, with the aim of raising the profile of ethical, responsible and sustainable investment – is back for another year in just four months’ time (October 13-19).
National Ethical Investment Week is an umbrella event and vital focal point for socially responsible, impact, green, best-in-class and sustainable investment. The sector is as concerned with positively selecting the fastest-growing, most innovative industries of the future – in cleantech, biotech, healthcare, sustainable transport, forestry and agriculture – as it is with screening out ‘unethical’ offenders.
The 2012 event was a success, involving more than 400 financial advisers and gaining the support of over 100 additional organisations.
On top of this, supporters from charities, faith groups and the financial services industry organised nearly 40 events across 18 towns and cities across the UK – all with the aim of spreading the word about investment strategies that consider environmental and social externalities, and aren’t simply on a reckless search for profit at any cost.
But there are high hopes that the 2013 event will make even greater steps.
“NEIW 2013 will look to be bigger and bolder than ever before”, said Raj Singh, programme director at the UK Sustainable Investment and Finance Association (UKSIF) which co-ordinates the event.
“We’re excited to work with UKSIF members and other partners to spread the word amongst investors about ethical investment.
“The options open to investors who want to invest ethically are growing year by year. We all embed ethics into other spheres of our lives, there’s no good reason for our financial or investment decisions to be exempt from that.”
During NEIW 2012, UKISF targeted financial advisers, and urged them to view the event as an opportunity to explore green and ethical funds with their clients. Clients who invest sustainably are more loyal to their adviser and funds.
As we have said before, the best financial advice includes the ethical investment option. It must be part of the know-your-client process, as Barchester Green financial adviser John Ditchfield said in an interview with Blue & Green Tomorrow during last year’s event.
Speaking to B> again, he said, “NEIW 2012 was a huge success for Barchester Green and really raised the profile of responsible investing in the UK.
“We managed to attract considerable press attention with events and press releases focusing on the strong performance of many ethical and responsible funds.
Ditchfield, who is also co-chair of the Ethical Investment Association, added, “We are looking forward to making NEIW 2013 another strong year for the responsible investment market and this year we are looking to focus on the growing market for high social impact investments, social bonds and other forms of finance for organisations with a clearly defined social purpose.”
At the beginning of NEIW 2012, EIRIS – the responsible investment research firm – released statistics that identified £11 billion of assets invested in UK green and ethical retail funds. Whilst this figure was 3.4% less than the total invested in June 2011, it marks a £7 billion growth in the sector over the last 10 years.
Stephen Hine, EIRIS head of responsible investment development, said, “This is EIRIS’ 30th year of empowering responsible investment and as-ever we will be supporting NEIW, which is now in its sixth year.
“We are planning further activity to follow on from last year’s webinar ‘Beyond the ethical fund‘ which was targeted at marketing professionals from financial product providers and focused on how sustainable investment credentials can help with branding in a time of low consumer trust and poor reputations.
“In 2013, we’ve seen an ever-increasing take-up of defined contribution pension schemes in the workplace and so a discussion on the need for ethical investment options around these would seem very relevant. We also plan to release our latest estimate of size of UK ethical retail market statistics.
Hine added, “As always, our consumer website www.YourEthicalMoney.org signposts to information on how people’s money is invested, green and ethical financial products, and how consumers can help make finance more sustainable. Watch this space as our plans progress.”
One of the funds at the forefront of the sustainable investment market is WHEB’s Sustainability Fund. Having recruited Henderson Global Investors’ sustainable and responsible investment (SRI) team in May 2012 (and recently celebrating its one year anniversary), it has gone from strength to strength – becoming one of the most innovative products on offer.
Clare Brook, founding partner at WHEB, spoke to Blue & Green Tomorrow about what NEIW needs to do to build on the success of previous years.
“In order to engage the broader public, it’s important that NEIW makes it clear that the sort of investment we’re talking about here is not so much about avoiding alcohol, armaments, tobacco or pornography – those old-style ethical issues”, she said.
“It’s about asking where your money is invested. If it’s invested in something reasonably long-term like a pension that you’re drawing on in 20 years’ time, what is the world going to look like then? What are the key challenges facing us – and therefore how should your money be invested in a way that aligns your investments with what most concerns you?
“And if what most concerns you are things like resource scarcity, climate change, pollution and demographics, then surely your money should be invested in companies providing solutions to these challenges, rather than perpetuating them.
“It’s not just about ethics – in the slightly puritanical sense – it’s about safeguarding your future by ensuring it’s invested in companies that are going to be growing in future, not those that are potentially going to be at risk because governments are going to decide that, for example, we simply can’t burn anymore carbon dioxide.”
“What would be good would be to make sure that a lot of the NEIW events were focused on looking into the future and essentially future-proofing investment, rather than nit-picking what we mean by ‘ethics’. I think that gets boring and it misses the point.
“Meanwhile, we’re facing a potentially enormous crisis in the form of climate change. So if I had a wish for NEIW, it’s let’s not dwell on the detail and niceties; let’s get thinking about how we as investors can better invest in a future-proofed economy.”
In the same way that Fairtrade Fortnight and Move Your Money Month have helped spread the word about the ethical consumerism and responsible banking respectively, NEIW serves as an important marker for a type of investment that Blue & Green Tomorrow likes to call enlightened. It is not, as one personal finance journalist commented to us, an “arbitrary promotional event”.
We encourage investors, financial advisers, charities, faith groups, NGOs and communities to get behind ethical investment this October and beyond.
For more information, and ways to get involved, visit www.neiw.org.
How to Build An Eco-Friendly Home Pool
Swimming pools are undoubtedly one of the most luxurious features that any home can have. But environmentally-conscious homeowners who are interested in having a pool installed may feel that the potential issues surrounding wasted water, chemical use and energy utilized in heating the water makes having a home swimming pool difficult to justify.
But there is good news, because modern technologies are helping to make pools far less environmentally harmful than ever before. If you are interested in having a pool built but you want to make sure that it is as eco-friendly as possible, you can follow the advice below. From natural pools to solar panel heating systems, there are many steps that you can take.
Choose a natural pool to go chemical free
For those homeowners interested in an eco-friendly pool, the first thing to consider is a natural pool. Natural swimming pools utilise reed bed technology or moss-filtration to naturally filter out dirt from the water. These can be combined with eco-pumps to allow you to have a pool that is completely free from chemicals.
Not only are traditional pool chemicals potentially harmful to the skin, they also mean that you can contaminate the area around the pool if chemical-filled water leaks or is splashed around. This can be bad for your garden and the environment general.
It will be necessary to work with an expert pool builder to ensure that you have the expertise to get your natural pool installed properly. But the results with definitely be worth the effort and planning that you have to put in.
Avoid concrete if possible
The vast majority of home pools are built using concrete but this is far from ideal in terms of an eco-friendly pool for a large number of reasons. Concrete pools are typically built and then lined to stop keep out any bacteria. This is theoretically fine, except that concrete is porous and the lining can be liable to erode or break which can allow bacteria to enter the pool.
It is much better to use a non-porous material such as fibreglass or carbon ceramic composite for your pool. Typically, these swimming pools are supplied in a one-piece shell rather than having to be built from scratch, ensuring a bacteria-free environment. These non-porous materials make it impossible for the water to become contaminated through bacteria seeping into the pool by osmosis.
The further problem that can arise from having a concrete pool is that once this bacteria begins to get into the pool it can be more difficult for a natural filtration system to be effective. This can lead to you having to resort to using chemicals to get the pool clean.
Add solar panels
It is surprising how many will go to extreme lengths to ensure that their pool is as eco-friendly as possible in terms of building and maintaining it but then fall down on something extremely obvious. No matter what steps you take with the rest of your pool, it won’t really be worth the hassle if you are going to be conventionally heating your pool up, using serious amounts of energy to do so.
Thankfully there are plenty of steps you can take to ensure that your pool is heated to a pleasant temperature while causing minimal damage to the environment. Firstly, gathering energy using solar panels has become a very popular way to reduce consumption of electricity as well as decreasing utility bills. Many businesses offer solar panels specifically for swimming pools.
Additionally, installing an energy efficient heat pump or boiler to work in conjunction with your solar panels can be hugely beneficial.
Finally, it is worth remembering that there are many benefits to investing in a pool cover. When you cover your pool you increase its heat retention which stops you from having to power a pump or boiler to keep it warm. This works in conjunction with the solar panels and eco-friendly heating system that you have already had installed.
Additionally, you cover helps to keep out dirt and other detritus that can enter the pool, bringing in bacteria. Anything that you can do to keep bacteria out will be helpful in terms of keeping it clean.
4 Ways To Get a Green House in 2018
Demand for green houses is surging. In 2020, almost 20% of all homes on the market will be green.
If you would like to buy a green home, this is a great time to look into it. Prices are still pretty low and there are a lot more financing options available than there were right after the recession.
If you’re thinking about buying a house, now could be a very good time to make the move! A number of factors in the housing market right now mean that you might be able to afford your dream home. Although in many parts of the country house prices are still rising, if you do your research and plan wisely, there are lots of good schemes to help you get your foot on the property ladder, or trade up to the house you’ve always wanted.
Interest Rates and Stamp Duty
Although the Bank of England raised interest rates by 0.25% recently, they remain very low, which is good news if you’re thinking of taking out a mortgage. However, rates may not stay low and it’s predicted that there’ll be a further rate rise during 2018, so don’t wait too long. Another factor that’s going to help first time buyers in particular is the Chancellor’s decision to abolish stamp duty for first timers purchasing properties for under £300,000.
For many people looking to buy a green home, raising a deposit of between 5% and 20% may not be a realistic option, in which case there are a growing number of schemes to help. Increasingly popular are shared ownership schemes, through which the buyer pays a percentage of the full value of the property (typically between 25% and 75%) and the local council or a housing association pays the rest, and takes part ownership. This is suitable for buyers who may struggle to meet the up-front costs of buying outright. There will often be a service charge or management fees to pay in addition to the mortgage. The Government’s Help To Buy scheme is a good place to start looking if you’re interested in this option. This scheme is now available to people looking to buy green homes too.
If you’re still saving for a deposit, another scheme is the Help to Buy ISA. You can get a 25% boost to your savings on amounts up to £200 per month with this scheme. It’s only open to first time buyers and you can claim a maximum of £3000.
Green home buyers are going to run into a number of other ancillary costs, most of which are common to other homebuyers.
When calculating how much you can afford, it’s vitally important to remember that buying a house comes with a whole host of other costs. Depending on the cost of the property that you’re buying, you may have to pay stamp duty of anywhere between 1% and 5%. There’ll be estate agents fee if you’re also selling a property, although there are a wide range of online estate agents operating such as Purple Bricks or Right Move that have lower fees than traditional high street companies. Conveyancing costs to a solicitor can add another £1000-£3000 and you may need to take out life insurance and hire a moving firm.
There are other initial costs such as, fixing parts of the home that aren’t upto your taste. Getting new furniture to fill up all the new-found space in your new home. If you are moving away from the city, you need to consider the cost of transportation as well, as it can take up quite a lot over time. Take your time, do your homework and shop around and soon you could be getting the keys to your perfect home.
I hope this article was useful for you to learn more about the basics that you need to be aware of before you start the process of buying your first home. If you have any doubts with regards to this, let us know through the comments and we will be glad to help you out. If you have any suggestions regarding how we can improve the article, let us know them through the comments as well for us to improve.
Do you have any other reservations against buying your first home? Do you see your house as an asset or a liability? Do you think it is important for everyone to get themselves a new home? Let us know through the comments.