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Paul Robinson: capitalism isn’t working – speech



Paul Robinson, CEO of Alquity spoke about capitalism and transforming the financial industry to change the world as the company rebranded and launched a new emerging market fund. The full text of the speech is below.

A kick-about that changed everything…

For me, this journey started with a ball. It’s amazing how something so simple can turn out to be a life-changing  moment . . .

t was 1996 and I was in the middle of a year off, driving through Malawi with some other travellers. We stopped to play football with a group of African kids. Once you start a game like that, you rapidly attract every kid within a 3 mile radius! It was great, but after an hour or so, it was time for us to go – and the kids looked really miserable.

Now obviously, I thought that was because they where going to miss our silky football skills. (Kicks ball into audience) But it wasn’t that. Those kids were sad because they thought we were going to take the ball with us. That really hit me.

That for those kids, a tatty old football was so valuable and out of reach . . .

The issue: capitalism isn’t working

OK, let me put my cards on the table.

I am Paul Robinson, and I believe in capitalism. I believe in free markets. I believe in meritocracy. I believe in people working hard and achieving fantastic things, through their own talents and efforts.

But that isn’t the kind of capitalism we have today.

Our version of capitalism is broken. I don’t think anyone in this room needs me to rant about the inequities of our current system – about the obscenity of bankers’ bonuses, or about massive scale corporate tax dodging, or about workers in poor countries being forced into virtual slavery, so that we can wear ridiculously cheap throw-away clothes . . .

So let’s just say that we’ve allowed capitalism to ‘go rogue’ – with the result that we now live in a world that is profoundly unfair.

A world where the biggest factor determining a child’s future is not how smart they are or how hard they work, but simply where they were born.

It isn’t a level playing field. It’s nowhere near being one – and if we care about the future, and want to see a fairer world, we have to change that. We have to find a way of giving everyone a chance to win.

Alquity: here to fix capitalism

Enter Alquity.

We started in 2010 – and, in the scheme of things, we’re still quite a small investment fund management company.

But we have very big ambitions.

Our mission is nothing less than to transform how people invest, to create a better, fairer world for all.

Or, to put it more succinctly, we’re here to fix capitalism.

Perhaps I’d better tell you how we’re going to do that . . .

The Alquity difference

Alquity is, genuinely, different. We’re not just another ethical or sustainable investment fund company.

We’ve developed our own entirely new investment model, based on a Virtuous Circle that’s in everyone’s best interests.

It’s an approach that transforms investment by making it a two-way street – based on the principle that wherever in the world we pursue profit, we should also put something back . . . in order to create opportunity and strong local economies that will, over time, result in our investments performing even better. So everyone wins.

Let me briefly talk you through our VIRTUOUS CIRCLE…

So, first, attractive returns. At Alquity, we absolutely believe you do not need to sacrifice profits for principles.

We’ve got brilliantly talented fund managers and we give them complete freedom to follow their convictions. Even more important, we invest in the world’s most exciting emerging economies.

We started by focusing on Africa, the last great unexplored market, home to seven of the world’s ten fastest growing economies. And over time, we’ve widened our horizons to take in the massive growth potential of Asia and Latin America.

I’ll talk a bit about our funds’ performance in a moment, but let’s just say for now that what we do at Alquity is in the true capitalist spirit of Adam Smith – enlightened self-interest, at its most rewarding.

Next up, responsible investments…by which we mean that at Alquity, we believe doing good is good business, so we only invest in responsible, well managed companies.

To help us do that, we use a rigorous selection process that takes into account environmental, social and governance factors – which we call forward-looking ESG.

It’s a highly effective way of picking winners, ensuring that we only back companies with a clear and sustainable advantage over their competitors.

Which brings us to transforming lives – and building local economies.

So this is where we put something back in: at Alquity, we donate up to 25% of our fee revenue to local communities where we invest. Specifically, we do that by working with fantastic partners running microfinance schemes to help local entrepreneurs get businesses off the ground.

Just let me introduce you, very briefly, to Mercy Senyehah…

Four years ago, Mercy was working as a primary school teacher in Accra, Ghana.

Her husband got into serious debt, and they had to sell their home. Then he left her, and Mercy moved to a village in eastern Ghana. 

With her very small savings, she rented a plot of land to start a school, and she received her first loan – equivalent to around £300 – from one of Alquity’s partners, Opportunity International. She used the money to build classrooms, and she soon had over 100 pupils.

Since then, with further loans funded by Alquity, the school has gone from strength to strength – and Mercy is now giving around 250 children an education, which they wouldn’t otherwise have access to…and a chance to achieve their full potential in life. 

Again, I need to stress that we’re not helping to transform the lives of people like Mercy – and the children she teaches – just because it feels good to help people lift themselves out of poverty. We’re doing it because creating consumers, fostering ambition, and strengthening local economies is – in the long term – very good indeed for our investments. Again, everyone wins. 

So that’s the Alquity difference – an investment model that only backs good, responsibly run businesses with a sustainable competitive advantage…that focuses on the world’s most exciting emerging markets, seeking out new opportunities that will deliver really good returns…and that re-invests in local communities, supporting entrepreneurs and creating consumers in a way that will help to deliver even better returns to our investors. And here’s the really good news: our radically different new investment model works . . . 

Delivering proof of concept, and building on it

As I mentioned, we started in 2010 with our Africa Fund – investing in large cap quoted equities, right across the continent, and in 12 different sectors. 

By applying our investment approach – leaving our fund managers to seek out the next story, not the last story – using forward-looking ESG to get under the skin of investment prospects – we’ve delivered risk adjusted returns that most other funds can’t match…with our forward looking ESG helping give us the lowest levels of volatility among our peer group. 

In short, our Africa Fund has provided proof of concept. That circle I talked about is demonstrating that virtue can be very rewarding. 

Our Latin America, Asia and Indian Subcontinent Funds, based on precisely the same principles, are all up and running. 

And tonight, I’m very pleased to be announcing the arrival of a new fund – one that brings it all together, covering 82% of the world’s population, over 50% of the world’s GDP and all of the most exciting emerging markets. 

We call it Future World – not just because it’s about what the world will become, but because, through our new investment model, we have the chance to shape how we want the world to be. 

Transforming our industry, changing the world

I think I know what you may be asking yourselves, listening to me this evening: “Do these guys seriously believe that one fairly small fund management company is really going to transform the way people invest, fix our broken capitalist system, and make the world a better, fairer place for all?” 

Well, yes I seriously do believe that. 

Of course, we don’t expect to accomplish all that on our own. But we won’t have to. Because the world is ready for change, and our new investment model is an idea whose time has come. 

We live in an age of transformation. Politically, socially, technologically, everything is up for grabs. And nowhere is there a greater hunger for change than in relation to financial services and, more broadly, economic development. 

The idea that our system is broken and that we need a new version that works better for all is rapidly moving into the mainstream. The recent conference on Inclusive Capitalism held in London was attended by Mark Carney, Bill Clinton and Christine Lagarde, among many others – major pillars of the old order who clearly acknowledge the urgent need for a new and better way of doing things. 

Everyone knows that we can’t go on with old smash-and-grab, get-rich-quick and to-hell-with-the-consequences approach for much longer.

So yes, against that backdrop, we do passionately believe that if Alquity can prove, categorically, that there is a better, fairer way of investing that backs good businesses, delivers attractive returns, and transforms thousands – and potentially millions – of lives, others will be very quick indeed to follow our lead. 

I believe Alquity can play a vital role in starting to transform the relationship between business and our wider society. 

I believe Alquity can, over time, play a vital role in transforming the way the world invests. 

Ubuntu: where change begins

I’m going to end where I began, in Africa. 

When we started Alquity, one of the values we adopted was Ubuntu – an idea from southern Africa that means, roughly, “I am because we are”.

What it means in practice was brought home to me a few years ago on a trip to Lesotho. I was visiting a local and before we left, we handed out oranges to the kids and despite having two crates, I found myself left with one orange and ten kids gathered round, all wanting it. 

In my competitive western way, I pointed to a nearby tree and told the kids that the first one to run round it and back would get the orange. Off they all went, and then as they reached the tree, something amazing happened. They all joined hands and ran back together. When I asked why, one of them said, “How can one of us be happy while the others are sad?”

That’s Ubuntu. That’s the spirit of Alquity. That’s what will inspire us to transform investment, and create a better, fairer world for all. 

By joining us this evening, you’ve become part of the Alquity story. If you want change, it starts here.

Further reading:

Alquity rebrands and launches an emerging markets fund


How Going Green Can Save A Company Money



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




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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