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Henderson team happily flies into WHEB

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The decision by Henderson to close down its SRI team raised eyebrows throughout the sustainable investment world. Conversely, the news that the Henderson crew had combined forces with WHEB Asset Management raised many smiles. B&GT caught up with Clare Brook and ‘new boy’ George Latham to get the full story.

Going back to the beginning of the story, the two then separate teams of WHEB and Henderson had very different quandaries.

WHEB had reached the stage where we recognised the need for a larger team—in particular, we were looking for an excellent fund manager, as well as someone who could help further expand the business and take over the management of the business”, says Clare Brook, a founding partner of WHEB Asset Management (WHEB AM).

We had this slightly naïve idea that this could all be encapsulated within one person. So we put out a search for an individual who would embody a kind of magic bullet for us.”

It was while conducting this search, without much success, that news broke about the Henderson socially responsible investment (SRI) team’s redundancy.

We were immediately struck by two thoughts: first, what an extraordinary move by Henderson to lay off the top performing team in the sector. But secondly, how thrilled we were because we therefore had a shot at getting them to join us. And we knew they would fulfill our need far better than any of the people we’d been considering.”

In December, Brook met Henderson team leader George Latham in the cafe at The Wallace Collection just steps away from the WHEB office near Manchester Square. Brook told Latham that it would be fantastic if he could join WHEB. But Latham had a number of options that he had to consider; the pair agreed to speak again depending on the outcome of the move.

And so it was, that on the afternoon of the WHEB Group’s annual Christmas office party that Latham texted Brook to express his interest in further dialogue with James McNaught-Davis, who heads up the WHEB Group and Geoff Hall, chairman of WHEB.

I had to collar Geoff and James in the middle of the office party and tell them “You’ve got to see George Latham tomorrow…” to which came the jolly cries of “Yeah, yeah!“—but they did see him the following day and immediately became very interested in the idea of taking on his team”, says Brook.

Despite interest from both parties, Latham and his team had other cards on the table. WHEB Managing Partner George Latham says, “By Christmas we had four substantive conversations on the table. But there were three or four things that were really attractive about WHEB.

The first is that we could stop being a ‘fringe’ business and become part of the core. That makes a massive difference. And it means there is a real consistency in business approach. Secondly, the fund management strategy that we had a strong reputation for—known as the Industries of the Future strategy—was a long-term, long only, global equities strategy, focused on investing in companies that provide solutions to sustainability challenges. And that philosophy was very consistent with the strategy that Clare had set up at WHEB Asset Management.”

(It’s interesting to note here that Clare Brook was actually instrumental in the coining of the term “Industries of the Future”, when she was at NPI running the Global Care range of funds.  NPI was taken over by AMP, which owned Henderson where Brook and her team worked briefly before leaving to set up the Sustainable Future range of funds at Aviva. George Latham and Tim Dieppe took over where Clare had left off at Henderson, so there is a wonderful circularity about them all coming together now to run the same strategy.)

The third thing is that we could go from being part of a public market owned business, which has to react to shareholder pressures in the short term, to a privately-owned business that is able to stand back and take a long-term view of where it wants to position itself. Our fund is a long-term investment approach—we have an average holding period of three years—we stand back and make a long-term appraisal of the quality and outlook of the companies we invest in. And it’s great to have an owner and a backer that has the same approach to the way they run their business.

Finally, we’ve been able to put in place a really strong resource base. We have an investment team of five and resources outside the investment team to run the rest of the business. We’re really confident that we’re better resourced than we ever were before.”

Clare Brook & George Latham

And the big question on everyone’s lips is “how is the move going?” Clare Brook is certainly very happy: “For me, it’s been even better than I hoped it would be. We just all get on so well—we knew that there was a good meeting of minds as far as the way we ran the funds—but the team are just fantastic. There’s a real sense of working with a bunch of really clever, really decent people—hearts in the right place and heads screwed on.

I’ve put together a lot of teams over the years and this is by far and away the most impressive collection of people I’ve ever worked with”, she says with a great deal of passion.

Latham thinks back to Henderson’s decision to scrap the SRI team with logical reflection: “There had been a frustration for a period of time that the business that we ran in Henderson hadn’t been growing as rapidly as we’d hoped despite being the leading team in the sector with a product that was performing soundly and well-matched to client demand—and in a market sector that has grown substantially; it’s trebled over the last seven years.”

A multi-boutique structure [such as Henderson] that becomes too large is unable to focus on growing a particular franchise in an ongoing and consistent way. But what we have now in WHEB is a business that is wholly focused around sustainable investing and is committed to it—so we’ve turned a problem that we had previously on its head.

The changes by Henderson and other large investment houses have caused concern for some. What is Latham’s take on the current state of the sustainable investing industry?

The market has changed a great deal. The big multi-strategy companies have struggled, as I say, to be able to consistently build a position in something that is different to their core business”, says Latham.

If you look at any of large institutions that originally had positions in this market, in none of those cases has SRI been core business—and that’s created a problem. But where there has been real success in this market is when boutiques have built SRI around a core message and a core business proposition. So the likes of Impax, Generation, Sustainable Asset Management and Sarasen have been very successful in this market.

There is a concern that the big institutional investment houses’ cutting of resources means there is a lack of demand. But that’s not the case at all. The evidence is very clear that this sector has grown substantially over the last decade and has been very resilient in tough markets. It has been an outpost of growth whilst mainstream equities funds have struggled to grow.

He concludes: “To be able to look at the market for retail funds in ethical and green strategies in the UK, which has grown from £3.5 billion assets under management in 2003 to £11.3 billion in 2007, that kind of growth is unique among the equity mutual funds industry in the UK.”

The coming together of the old Henderson SRI team and WHEB AM has produced a most formidable force in sustainable investment, and certainly one to watch in the near future.

To say that the WHEB Group takes sustainability seriously is an understatement—it is at the very heart of everything they do.

Indeed, we were delighted to discover that all members of the WHEB Asset Management team cycle to work each morning—apart from Tim Dieppe. Shame on you, Tim!

For more information about the new WHEB Asset Management team or the IM WHEB Sustainability Fund, visit the website. 

To find out why investment strategy should matter to you, check out our Guide to Sustainable Investment.

Further reading:

Sustainability funds are “helping the world move onto a more sustainable footing”

“Backward step” for sector as Henderson scraps SRI team

The Guide to Sustainable Investment

Features

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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