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Economy

Investing our way towards dystopia

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Dystopian fiction is all the rage on the silver screen. From Terminator: Genisys, Mad Max: Fury Road, the final instalment of the Hunger Games: Mockingjay, to the next instalment of Maze Runner: Scorch Trials, to Divergent’s sequel, Insurgent. Meanwhile, mainstream investment seems determined to make all that fiction a reality as fast as possible.

The joke question that asks ‘how to get somewhere’ is answered, “If you want to get there, I wouldn’t start from here.” If we wanted to live in a secure and free society, with the highest possible levels of health, wealth and happiness for all, we wouldn’t start from here, we’d start in 1978.

1978, the year the world had never had it so good. University of Canberra researchers used a novel method to work out when individual countries and the whole world enjoyed the best quality of life. Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI) uses economic data as well as statistics relating to pollution, housework and car accidents among other factors. They found GPI peaked in globally in 1978 and has steadily declined since then.

Where are we in 2015? Global insecurity. The possibility of a new Cold War with Russia. Economic and political breakdown in Europe. Environmental degradation and mass extinction. Inequality within nations increasing. Voter turnout falling and extreme parties rising.

Today, vast sums of money are invested in harming people and planet for short-term profit with those who dare to protest seen as naive idealists. An even greater share of investment serves no function at all – apart from enriching the already rich. A lot of pensioners’ income unwittingly depends on damaging the prospects of their children and grandchildren. We have the exact opposite of Adam Smithsonian capitalism, with poor people’s incomes taxed to the hilt and rent-seeking property owners and wealth inheritors relatively untaxed. To protest is deemed the ‘politics of envy’, as accidental wealth inheritance is conflated with blood-sweat-and-toil wealth creation.

Our dependency on fossil fuels means we fight wars and destabilise whole regions while poisoning our atmosphere, ravaging people and landscapes. Our advertising-fuelled need for the latest shiny thing means we consume more than two earths could provide. Our need for cheaper and cheaper stuff means five million hard-working people don’t earn a living wage in the UK, the sixth richest country in the world. 168 million child workers around the world suffer modern day slavery to supply cheap stuff to the rich world – we rob the poor to feed the rich. Wealthy corporations’ need for greater margins means they demand unsustainable tax breaks, leading to cuts in essential public services and taxpayer-funded subsidies for underpaid workers.

Meanwhile we’re casually poisoning the air we breathe, the water we drink and the land and seas that provides our food. Our ice caps melt, our forests are cut down, our weather becomes more unpredictable and entire species are pushed into extinction. We jeopardise many more species, not least ourselves.

And the greatest swindle perpetrated in modern history has been the transformation of systemic private sector recklessness and failure during the financial crisis into (drum roll) public sector austerity. Clearly all those doctors, nurses, teachers, hardworking families, young people or unborn children are responsible for the credit crunch. And it will happen again as nothing has fundamentally changed and there is no moral hazard for the financial masters of the universe now.

And more people than ever impotently sign petitions, march and protest but perversely don’t vote because, “it doesn’t make a difference”. In the UK, around 6m didn’t even bother to register in the first place. 15.7m of those who were registered to vote chose not to. This non-voting constituency was 2.4m more than the 11.3m who voted for the winning Conservative party. Across OECD countries voter turnout is falling (-11%), just as we need greater engagement in the political process.

For all our incredible resilience, ingenuity, intelligence and opposable thumbs we really are a very stupid primate.

Melodramatic tosh? Not really. Intergovernmental, organisational and individual action isn’t commensurate with the challenges we face. We all fiddle while earth burns. I can confidently make a prediction that Paris 2015 will fudge an agreement that ineffectively addresses those challenges. We are all child abusers screwing the planet up for future generations.

So what can you do? Have a big ‘End of the World’ party to hasten oblivion (which is what we’re doing), bravely fight the long defeat or cleave to optimism and our species’ ability to tackle the coming catastrophe.

What you can do is invest and buy sustainably. Every pound you invest and spend is a powerful agent of change. It’s the only vote that some care about, especially those dealing with Greece. Capitalism in a liberal democracy has all the ingredients we need to create a genuinely sustainable future. If you don’t have money or power, lobby someone who does and publish what they reply – name and shame them if they do nothing. In the digital age you don’t even need to pay for a stamp.

We are racing headlong towards a dystopian future – where brutal fiction will become a hellish fact. There are real issues just round the corner with food, water and energy shortages, not to mention the catastrophic effects of runaway climate change. Resource shortages lead to war of a civil and military nature. In times of war totalitarianism is a simple step. Climate change will lead to large scale migration (is already leading to migration) which gives rise to intolerance and extremism. In times of intolerance and extremism it is harder to find a common cause.

Utopia is unachievable, but avoiding dystopia is within our grasp if we reach for it.

Invest and spend sustainably.

Simon Leadbetter is the founder and publisher of Blue & Green Tomorrow. He has held senior roles at Northcliffe, The Daily Telegraph, Santander, Barclaycard, AXA, Prudential and Fidelity. In 2004, he founded a marketing agency that worked amongst others with The Guardian, Vodafone, E.On and Liverpool Victoria. He sold this agency in 2006 and as Chief Marketing Officer for two VC-backed start-ups launched the online platform Cleantech Intelligence (which underpinned the The Guardian’s Cleantech 100) and StrategyEye Cleantech. Most recently, he was Marketing Director of Emap, the UK’s largest B2B publisher, and the founder of Blue & Green Communications Limited.

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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Economy

Report: Green, Ethical and Socially Responsible Finance

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“The level of influence that ethical considerations have over consumer selection of financial services products and services is minimal, however, this is beginning to change. Younger consumers are more willing to pay extra for products provided by socially responsible companies.” Jessica Morley, Mintel’s Financial Services Analyst.

Consumer awareness of the impact consumerism has on society and the planet is increasing. In addition, the link between doing good and feeling good has never been clearer. Just 19% of people claim to not participate in any socially responsible activities.

As a result, the level of attention that people pay to the green and ethical claims made by products and providers is also increasing, meaning that such considerations play a greater role in the purchasing decision making process.

However, this is less true in the context of financial services, where people are much more concerned about the performance of a product rather than green and ethical factors. This is not to say, however, that they are not interested in the behaviour of financial service providers or in gaining more information about how firms behave responsibly.

This report focuses on why these consumer attitudes towards financial services providers exist and how they are changing. This includes examination of the wider economy and the current structure of the financial services sector.

Mintel’s exclusive consumer research looks at consumer participation in socially responsible activities, trust in the behaviour of financial services companies and attitudes towards green, ethical and socially responsible financial services products and providers. The report also considers consumer attitudes towards the social responsibilities of financial services firms and the green, ethical and socially responsible nature of new entrants.

There are some elements missing from this report, such as conducting socially responsible finance with OTC trading. We will cover these other topics in more detail in the future. You can research about Ameritrade if you want to know more ..

By this report today: call: 0203 416 4502 | email: iainooson[at]mintel.com

Report contents:

OVERVIEW
What you need to know
Report definition
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
The market
Ethical financial services providers: A question of culture
Investment power
Consumers need convincing
The transformative potential of innovation
Consumers can demand change
The consumer
For financial products, performance is more important than principle
Competition from technology companies
Financial services firms perceived to be some of the least socially responsible
Repaying the social debt
Consumer trust is built on evidence
What we think
ISSUES AND INSIGHTS
Creating a more inclusive economy
The facts
The implications
Payments innovation helps fundraising go digital
The facts
The implications
The social debt of the financial crisis
The facts
The implications
THE MARKET – WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Ethical financial services providers: A question of culture
Investment power
Consumers need convincing
The transformative potential of innovation
Consumers can demand change
PUTTING FINANCIAL SERVICES IN AN ETHICAL CONTEXT
An ethical economy
An ethical financial sector
Ethical financial services providers
GREEN, ETHICAL AND SOCIALLY RESPONSIBLE ISSUES IN FINANCIAL SERVICES
The role of investing
Divestment
The change potential of pensions
The role of trust
Greater transparency informs decisions
Learning from past mistakes
The role of innovation
Payments innovation: Improving financial inclusion
Competition from new entrants
The power of new money
The role of the consumer
Consumers empowered to make a change
Aligning products with self
THE CONSUMER – WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
For financial products, performance is more important than ethics
Financial services firms perceived to be some of the least socially responsible
Competition from technology companies
Repaying the social debt
Consumer trust is built on evidence
Overall trust levels are high
THE ETHICAL CONSUMER – SOCIALLY RESPONSIBLE ACTIVITIES
Payments innovation can boost charitable donations
Consumer engagement in socially responsible activities is high
Healthier finances make it easier to go green
SOCIALLY RESPONSIBLE COMPANIES
37% unable to identify socially responsible companies
Building societies seen to be more responsible than banks….
….whilst short-term loan companies are at the bottom of the pile
CONSUMER TRUST IN THE BEHAVIOUR OF FINANCIAL SERVICES COMPANIES
Overall trust levels are high
Tax avoidance remains a major concern
The divestment movement
Nationwide significantly more trusted
Trust levels remain high
CONSUMER ATTITUDES TOWARDS GREEN AND ETHICAL FINANCIAL PRODUCTS
For financial products, performance is more important than principle
Socially conscious consumers are more concerned
CONSUMER ATTITUDES TOWARDS TRANSPARENCY
Strategy reports provide little insight for consumers
Lack of clarity regarding corporate culture causes concern
Consumers want more information
THE ROLE OF FINANCIAL SERVICES FIRMS IN SOCIETY
The social debt of the financial crisis
THE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITIES OF FINANCIAL SERVICES FIRMS
For consumers, financial services firms play larger economic role
Promoting financial responsibility
CHALLENGER COMPANIES AND SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY
Consumer trust is built on evidence
The alternative opportunity
The target customer

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