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Economy

Sustainable Investment Bootcamp: a resounding success

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Sustainability thought leader Will Day told a fascinating – and revealing – anecdote during his keynote speech at Blue & Green Tomorrow’s Sustainable Investment Bootcamp last week that really epitomised why we decided to host the event.

Day is sustainability adviser to PricewaterhouseCoopers and chairman of the non-profit Water and Sanitation for the Urban Poor (WSUP). The WWF, the ICAEW, British Land, the Sustainable Development Commission, BBC Children in Need, the United Nations Development Programme, Oxfam, Save the Children and CARE International UK are just a few of the charities, NGOs and organisations to also appear on a CV that would make most people’s pale in comparison.

Click here to read The Guide to Sustainable Investment 2013

He recalled how he had enquired about sustainable investment (or ethical investment as he said it was primarily known back then) during a meeting with a former financial adviser. He wanted his money to do social or environmental good, as well as generate financial returns.

The adviser, Day said, actively tried to put him off from investing his money in such places.

Speaking to a room of financial advisers in the Old Hall at Lincoln’s Inn in London, Day may have had a few of them having uneasy recollections of their own. After all, the event was designed for advisers who were interested in learning more about sustainable investment but perhaps currently felt they lacked sufficient knowledge to give advice on it. It’s likely that many of those sat in the audience had had similar experiences from the other side of the desk.

What’s most interesting about Day’s anecdote is that Blue & Green Tomorrow’s founder Simon Leadbetter had exactly the same experience with no fewer than three advisers. Telling each that he had considerable (and vast) inheritance to invest, all three determinedly tried to detract him from the sustainable option.

But if these two men – who work at the heart of sustainability and therefore know why sustainable, responsible and ethical investment is crucial – are being discouraged from investing in this way by finance professionals, what about the investors who perhaps don’t have their understanding?

These two completely independent stories exemplify why Blue & Green Tomorrow’s Sustainable Investment Bootcamp was needed. Because it’s not a requirement to do so, too few financial advisers offer clients the sustainable, responsible or ethical option.

This is despite many of them getting requests for such investment strategies from clients (74% of advisers in a Blue & Green Tomorrow survey said their clients had at some point asked about ethical investment).

Click here to read The Guide to Ethical Financial Advice 2013

The bootcamp on Thursday, which included contributions from some of the leading fund managers and financial advisers in the sustainable investment space, looked to join the dots between the clear demand and the lack of supply.

The performance of sustainable investment was a subject touched upon several times. Recent research by Moneyfacts.co.uk said how ethical and sustainable investment funds had generally performed better financially than their mainstream counterparts in the last 12 months, but critics responded by saying, “Not over the long-term.”

A number of speakers at the bootcamp – particularly the fund managers who had seen positive results first-hand – eloquently argued that by definition, sustainable investments are long-term investments. In addition, this is a relatively new industry, so many funds aren’t blessed with decade-long track records anyway.

Both the panel discussions between the fund managers – chaired by freelance and FT journalist Mike Scott – and the advisers – chaired by sustainable investment thought leader Raj Thamotheram – provided valuable insight into the inner workings of sustainable finance professionals.

The feedback we’ve received so far has been almost entirely positive, with one financial adviser who attended the event saying he was “a bit ashamed” that he hadn’t given sustainable investment the time of day before.

As Simon Leadbetter said in his opening speech, sustainable investment is investment for 21st century investors. But those investors need 21st century advisers to help deal with and benefit from the many environmental and social challenges the world faces today.

Our Sustainable Investment Bootcamp is one part of a much bigger and urgently needed process to encourage a new wave of 21st century finance professionals to step up to the mark.

The first wave of post-event survey results (with responses from 40% of those who attended) shows that two-fifths of the advisers who attended are seeing growth in demand for sustainable and responsible investment (SRI). None are seeing less. Meanwhile, all of them said they would be advising their clients on SRI in the future, and nine out of 10 said they saw no greater risk in SRI. All those who have responded to the survey so far see growth in the sector generally.

Further reading:

Financial returns from ethical investment funds ‘better than mainstream’ in last 12 months

10 signs that sustainable investment is going mainstream

Ethical investment: better a diamond with a flaw, than a pebble without

There is such a thing as an unethical investment

The Guide to Sustainable Investment 2013

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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Economy

A Good Look At How Homes Will Become More Energy Efficient Soon

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energy efficient homes

Everyone always talks about ways they can save energy at home, but the tactics are old school. They’re only tweaking the way they do things at the moment. Sealing holes in your home isn’t exactly the next scientific breakthrough we’ve been waiting for.

There is some good news because technology is progressing quickly. Some tactics might not be brand new, but they’re becoming more popular. Here are a few things you should expect to see in homes all around the country within a few years.

1. The Rise Of Smart Windows

When you look at a window right now it’s just a pane of glass. In the future they’ll be controlled by microprocessors and sensors. They’ll change depending on the specific weather conditions directly outside.

If the sun disappears the shade will automatically adjust to let in more light. The exact opposite will happen when it’s sunny. These energy efficient windows will save everyone a huge amount of money.

2. A Better Way To Cool Roofs

If you wanted to cool a roof down today you would coat it with a material full of specialized pigments. This would allow roofs to deflect the sun and they’d absorb less heat in the process too.

Soon we’ll see the same thing being done, but it will be four times more effective. Roofs will never get too hot again. Anyone with a large roof is going to see a sharp decrease in their energy bills.

3. Low-E Windows Taking Over

It’s a mystery why these aren’t already extremely popular, but things are starting to change. Read low-E window replacement reviews and you’ll see everyone loves them because they’re extremely effective.

They’ll keep heat outside in summer or inside in winter. People don’t even have to buy new windows to enjoy the technology. All they’ll need is a low-E film to place over their current ones.

4. Magnets Will Cool Fridges

Refrigerators haven’t changed much in a very long time. They’re still using a vapor compression process that wastes energy while harming the environment. It won’t be long until they’ll be cooled using magnets instead.

The magnetocaloric effect is going to revolutionize cold food storage. The fluid these fridges are going to use will be water-based, which means the environment can rest easy and energy bills will drop.

5. Improving Our Current LEDs

Everyone who spent a lot of money on energy must have been very happy when LEDs became mainstream. Incandescent light bulbs belong in museums today because the new tech cut costs by up to 85 percent.

That doesn’t mean someone isn’t always trying to improve on an already great invention. The amount of lumens LEDs produce per watt isn’t great, but we’ve already found a way to increase it by 25 percent.

Maybe Homes Will Look Different Too

Do you think we’ll come up with new styles of homes that will take off? Surely it’s not out of the question. Everything inside homes seems to be changing for the better with each passing year. It’s going to continue doing so thanks to amazing inventors.

ShutterStock – Stock photo ID: 613912244

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