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Green by name, green by nature: Helping people do what they can, where they can

Ian Green, director of Green Financial Advice, spoke to Alex Blackburne about his role in giving clients an ethical choice when it came to their investments.

If you’re interested in getting into the financial advisory world and your surname is ‘Green’, you must think that it’s the universe’s way of silently nudging you towards ethical investment.

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Ian Green, director of Green Financial Advice, spoke to Alex Blackburne about his role in giving clients an ethical choice when it came to their investments.

If you’re interested in getting into the financial advisory world and your surname is ‘Green’, you must think that it’s the universe’s way of silently nudging you towards ethical investment.

I really am called Ian Green. It is my name”, confirms the director and founder of London-based financial planners, Green Financial Advice.

Green by name, green by nature”, he continues, playing on the coincidental nature of his surname, his ethics and his profession.

With 16 years’ worth of experience as a financial adviser, Green offers clients a mixture of both ethical and more mainstream funds.

Ever since I first started, I was always aware of things like the Friends Provident Stewardship Fund, for use within pensions”, he says.

I’ve been aware of, and used, ethical funds for just about as long as I’ve been a financial adviser.”

‘Make money and make a difference’

Green Financial Advice is a fee-based advisory firm, comprising of five employees, of which Ian Green is the only adviser. The firm primarily operates in the pre and post retirement market, the wealth management market and tax and estate planning.

When it comes to ethical investment, Green refers to the National Ethical Investment Week slogan, ‘make money and make a difference’.

If you can make your money do good stuff for others while it’s working for you, I think that’s a good idea”, he states.

I am not an adviser that insists his clients invest 100% ethically, socially-responsibly or green – that’s not what I do. I don’t demand clients do that, I don’t demand clients do anything.

What I always think is, as an individual, in terms of looking after the environment and being green, I like to do what I can, where I can.”

Doing ‘what you can, where you can’ is a running theme throughout my interview with Green, who is quick to admit that he’s not able to be 100% green, 100% of the time himself.

But then again, who is?

A client once described doing what you can, where you can as a common sense approach”, he explains, “and it’s that approach we bring to people’s investments.

We’re not suggesting you have to be entirely green in your approach, because it’s really hard to be entirely socially responsible in your lifestyle.

If you buy organic or fair trade food, it’s often in surplus packaging, even if you use your own bags to carry it home.

We apply that approach to investing as well. We help clients to do what they can, where they can.”

Investing ethically does not compromise performance

There’s something refreshing about Green’s ethos, especially since he is a financial adviser.

He’s right – it is difficult to live a 100% ethical lifestyle, but choosing ethical investment and living a normal life, is much more friendly and sensible than having your money tied up in unethical funds, whilst using energy-saving light bulbs and driving hybrid cars, for example.

It’s about getting your priorities sorted and achieving a healthy balance.

Like several of the previous IFAs that Blue & Green Tomorrow has spoken to, Green is quick to dismiss “the persisting myth that investing ethically means you’ve compromised performance”.

An ethical fund is a fund, and it has got as much chance in outperformance or underperformance as anything else”, he instils.

For every argument that says, “It’s a restricted universe that you’re getting to choose from”, there is a counter-argument that says, “Maybe these companies are slightly better run, though”.

Professional, approriate, green advice

Choosing an ethical investment fund isn’t an easy process, though.

In the past couple of weeks, Blue & Green Tomorrow has profiled two funds – WHEB AM’s Sustainability Fund and Kames Capital’s Ethical Equity Fund – but there are many to choose from in the sector.

I advocate taking professional, appropriate, green advice, or doing a really good DIY job”, advises Green.

From a consumer’s perspective, it’s no good just picking a fund because it’s got some kind of green or ethical label on it, in the same way that if you go to a supermarket, just because something says ‘low fat’ on it, it doesn’t mean it’s not high in sugar.

It’s the same kind of thing with funds: just because they’ve got an ethical or green sounding name, it doesn’t necessarily mean it will fit your own criteria.”

Green’s answer to the now customary Blue & Green Tomorrow question regarding who he’d choose to be stuck with if stranded on a desert island reflected his logical approach to giving financial advice.

He chose Microsoft founder, and billionaire philanthropist, Bill Gates to accompany him.

While we are stranded”, Green explains, “he’d be great conversation given the life he has led, from building Microsoft to his charitable foundation, and I think he’d be clever enough and well-connected enough to work out a way to save us or have us rescued”.

Ian Green’s ethical philosophy is not only refreshing, but it’s entirely realistic and appropriate for the majority of 21st century individuals.

As previous interviewee, Lee Smythe, affirmed, “People are good”, and it’s up to advisers like him and Green to transmit the ethical possibilities to a wider audience.

Whatever the client wants by way of ethical investment requirements, I’ll be happy to help them to implement”, finishes Green.

Just make sure that if you want a blue and green tomorrow, you consider ethical investment.

If you would like to know more about ethical investment, contact Green Financial Advice, or complete our form and we’ll connect you with a specialist ethical adviser.

About where he’s based

Green Financial Advice is based in Putney, in the London borough of Wandsworth.

Famous for being the starting point of the annual University Boat Race, Putney was described by J. C. Geikie in his 1903 book, The Fascination of London, as “one of the pleasantest of the London suburbs”.

It is home to some of the capital’s most beautiful parks and open spaces, boasting 1,600 acres grassland, commons, allotments, and cemetery land – “the largest proportion for any inner London authority and almost five times the size of Hyde Park”.

Clement Attlee, the former British Prime Minister, best known for introducing the welfare state and granting India its independence from the Empire, was born in Putney in 1883.

The Antarctic explorer, Lawrence Oates, who in 1912 formed part of Captain Scott’s now infamous final, tragic expedition, was born in Putney in 1880. Oates is perhaps best remembered for the nature of his death – “I am just going outside and may be some time” he said, before stepping foot out of his tent and into a blizzard.

Meanwhile, former Chelsea and England goalkeeper, Peter Bonetti, and the first man to sail single-handed and non-stop around the world, Robin Knox-Johnston, also cite Putney as their place of birth.

In terms of sustainability, Wandsworth Council has a very keen movement. Its Environmental Ambition Statement relays the key targets, with the ultimate aim for the borough to be, “A community of global citizens living within environmental limits in an attractive, high quality local environment”.

Its projects seem to be working, too, with the local authority’s carbon emissions falling steadily between 2005 and 2009, from 1,483kt of carbon dioxide to 1,207kt, whilst its emissions per capita has also fallen by over a tonne in that period, from 5.3 to 4.2.

Previous interviewees include:

Economy

How Going Green Can Save A Company Money

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going green can save company money
Shutterstock Licensed Photot - By GOLFX

What is going green?

Going green means to live life in a way that is environmentally friendly for an entire population. It is the conservation of energy, water, and air. Going green means using products and resources that will not contaminate or pollute the air. It means being educated and well informed about the surroundings, and how to best protect them. It means recycling products that may not be biodegradable. Companies, as well as people, that adhere to going green can help to ensure a safer life for humanity.

The first step in going green

There are actually no step by step instructions for going green. The only requirement needed is making the decision to become environmentally conscious. It takes a caring attitude, and a willingness to make the change. It has been found that companies have improved their profit margins by going green. They have saved money on many of the frivolous things they they thought were a necessity. Besides saving money, companies are operating more efficiently than before going green. Companies have become aware of their ecological responsibility by pursuing the knowledge needed to make decisions that would change lifestyles and help sustain the earth’s natural resources for present and future generations.

Making needed changes within the company

After making the decision to go green, there are several things that can be changed in the workplace. A good place to start would be conserving energy used by electrical appliances. First, turning off the computer will save over the long run. Just letting it sleep still uses energy overnight. Turn off all other appliances like coffee maker, or anything that plugs in. Pull the socket from the outlet to stop unnecessary energy loss. Appliances continue to use electricity although they are switched off, and not unplugged. Get in the habit of turning off the lights whenever you leave a room. Change to fluorescent light bulbs, and lighting throughout the building. Have any leaks sealed on the premises to avoid the escape of heat or air.

Reducing the common paper waste

paper waste

Shutterstock Licensed Photo – By Yury Zap

Modern technologies and state of the art equipment, and tools have almost eliminated the use of paper in the office. Instead of sending out newsletters, brochures, written memos and reminders, you can now do all of these and more by technology while saving on the use of paper. Send out digital documents and emails to communicate with staff and other employees. By using this virtual bookkeeping technique, you will save a bundle on paper. When it is necessary to use paper for printing purposes or other services, choose the already recycled paper. It is smartly labeled and easy to find in any office supply store. It is called the Post Consumer Waste paper, or PCW paper. This will show that your company is dedicated to the preservation of natural resources. By using PCW paper, everyone helps to save the trees which provides and emits many important nutrients into the atmosphere.

Make money by spreading the word

Companies realize that consumers like to buy, or invest in whatever the latest trend may be. They also cater to companies that are doing great things for the quality of life of all people. People want to know that the companies that they cater to are doing their part for the environment and ecology. By going green, you can tell consumers of your experiences with helping them and communities be eco-friendly. This is a sound public relations technique to bring revenue to your brand. Boost the impact that your company makes on the environment. Go green, save and make money while essentially preserving what is normally taken for granted. The benefits of having a green company are enormous for consumers as well as the companies that engage in the process.

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Energy

5 Easy Things You Can Do to Make Your Home More Sustainable

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sustainable homes
Shutterstock Licensed Photot - By Diyana Dimitrova

Increasing your home’s energy efficiency is one of the smartest moves you can make as a homeowner. It will lower your bills, increase the resale value of your property, and help minimize our planet’s fast-approaching climate crisis. While major home retrofits can seem daunting, there are plenty of quick and cost-effective ways to start reducing your carbon footprint today. Here are five easy projects to make your home more sustainable.

1. Weather stripping

If you’re looking to make your home more energy efficient, an energy audit is a highly recommended first step. This will reveal where your home is lacking in regards to sustainability suggests the best plan of attack.

Some form of weather stripping is nearly always advised because it is so easy and inexpensive yet can yield such transformative results. The audit will provide information about air leaks which you can couple with your own knowledge of your home’s ventilation needs to develop a strategic plan.

Make sure you choose the appropriate type of weather stripping for each location in your home. Areas that receive a lot of wear and tear, like popular doorways, are best served by slightly more expensive vinyl or metal options. Immobile cracks or infrequently opened windows can be treated with inexpensive foams or caulking. Depending on the age and quality of your home, the resulting energy savings can be as much as 20 percent.

2. Programmable thermostats

Programmable thermostats

Shutterstock Licensed Photo – By Olivier Le Moal

Programmable thermostats have tremendous potential to save money and minimize unnecessary energy usage. About 45 percent of a home’s energy is earmarked for heating and cooling needs with a large fraction of that wasted on unoccupied spaces. Programmable thermostats can automatically lower the heat overnight or shut off the air conditioning when you go to work.

Every degree Fahrenheit you lower the thermostat equates to 1 percent less energy use, which amounts to considerable savings over the course of a year. When used correctly, programmable thermostats reduce heating and cooling bills by 10 to 30 percent. Of course, the same result can be achieved by manually adjusting your thermostats to coincide with your activities, just make sure you remember to do it!

3. Low-flow water hardware

With the current focus on carbon emissions and climate change, we typically equate environmental stability to lower energy use, but fresh water shortage is an equal threat. Installing low-flow hardware for toilets and showers, particularly in drought prone areas, is an inexpensive and easy way to cut water consumption by 50 percent and save as much as $145 per year.

Older toilets use up to 6 gallons of water per flush, the equivalent of an astounding 20.1 gallons per person each day. This makes them the biggest consumer of indoor water. New low-flow toilets are standardized at 1.6 gallons per flush and can save more than 20,000 gallons a year in a 4-member household.

Similarly, low-flow shower heads can decrease water consumption by 40 percent or more while also lowering water heating bills and reducing CO2 emissions. Unlike early versions, new low-flow models are equipped with excellent pressure technology so your shower will be no less satisfying.

4. Energy efficient light bulbs

An average household dedicates about 5 percent of its energy use to lighting, but this value is dropping thanks to new lighting technology. Incandescent bulbs are quickly becoming a thing of the past. These inefficient light sources give off 90 percent of their energy as heat which is not only impractical from a lighting standpoint, but also raises energy bills even further during hot weather.

New LED and compact fluorescent options are far more efficient and longer lasting. Though the upfront costs are higher, the long term environmental and financial benefits are well worth it. Energy efficient light bulbs use as much as 80 percent less energy than traditional incandescent and last 3 to 25 times longer producing savings of about $6 per year per bulb.

5. Installing solar panels

Adding solar panels may not be the easiest, or least expensive, sustainability upgrade for your home, but it will certainly have the greatest impact on both your energy bills and your environmental footprint. Installing solar panels can run about $15,000 – $20,000 upfront, though a number of government incentives are bringing these numbers down. Alternatively, panels can also be leased for a much lower initial investment.

Once operational, a solar system saves about $600 per year over the course of its 25 to 30-year lifespan, and this figure will grow as energy prices rise. Solar installations require little to no maintenance and increase the value of your home.

From an environmental standpoint, the average five-kilowatt residential system can reduce household CO2 emissions by 15,000 pounds every year. Using your solar system to power an electric vehicle is the ultimate sustainable solution serving to reduce total CO2 emissions by as much as 70%!

These days, being environmentally responsible is the hallmark of a good global citizen and it need not require major sacrifices in regards to your lifestyle or your wallet. In fact, increasing your home’s sustainability is apt to make your residence more livable and save you money in the long run. The five projects listed here are just a few of the easy ways to reduce both your environmental footprint and your energy bills. So, give one or more of them a try; with a small budget and a little know-how, there is no reason you can’t start today.

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