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The ‘do-gooder ethical investment crowd’ have plenty of sectors to invest in



Do the do-gooder ethical investment crowd have any sectors left to invest in?”, one tweeter pondered on Sunday. “No oil, banks, tobacco, alcohol, pharma?” Especially for them – and others who may share that view – here’s an ethical investment 101.

Ethics aren’t universal. What one person sees as unethical may be ethical to others. However, gradually we have agreed that certain activities are unethical, such as slavery. Those who argue that a certain activity is unethical tend to challenge the status quo, as the abolitionists did with slavery.

In 1958, Harvard professors John R Meyer and Alfred H Conrad published The Economics of Slavery in the Antebellum South, which identified, “The rate of return on slaves could be as high as 13% – compared to a yield of 6-8% on the railroads.” The same return on investment arguments are used to justify many unethical activities today.

At its peak, slavery represented two-fifths of the US economy, and many argued that a transition to a non-slave economy would be ruinous. In fact, the opposite was true. The same impossible transition arguments are used to justify many unethical activities today.

The end of one industry spurred the growth of innovative others. It is in innovation that investors experience the greatest growth.

Those who recommend incumbent sectors are condemning investors to low, high risk growth.

Today, ethical investors look at unburnable fossil fuels, financial speculation and fraud, selling tobacco to developing world children, the marketing practices of drinks companies and the hiding of adverse test data by bad pharma. They modestly suggest there might be a more responsible, innovative and cleaner way of creating value.

Only the most unenlightened would think that those unethical behaviours should be condoned with more investment.

In the coming years, irresponsible corporate behaviour will be called out and commonly agreed to be wrong. This represents a real danger to the share performance of those companies.

Ethical investment isn’t just about cutting companies out of the portfolio but also engaging with them to ensure better practices are deployed, practices that have been demonstrated to deliver greater shareholder value and lower shareholder risk. Lower resource usage means higher profits and better employee relationships means higher productivity.

But if someone focuses just on ethical investment, they’re out of touch with the evolution of the sector. The role of screening out the most egregious sectors makes sense, but the rise of sustainable, innovation-led, fast-growth sectors means those who want their money to do more good than harm have great investment opportunities available.

Renewable energy, clean technology, clean water, sustainable agriculture, fishing and forestry, social impact and fair trade all represent excellent opportunities with a growing global population, rising middle class, increased demand and resource scarcity. Only the most unenlightened would think that drilling deeper and extracting faster represents a sustainable solution to the resource problems we face. We need to use less, more efficiently and make our economy cleaner.

A do-gooder is “a naive idealist who supports philanthropic or humanitarian causes or reforms”. There is nothing naive or idealistic about philanthropy or humanitarian causes or reforms, or being courageous enough to face up to the population, resource and climate threats we face. The use of the phrase simply exposes the misinformed prejudice of the person using it.

All this leaves us to ask, “Do the do-evil unethical investment crowd have any common sense or humanity left?”

This article was edited after publication upon request.

Further reading:

Ethical investment: from lentil-chewing lefties to hard-headed pragmatists

‘Saints or sinners’ of ethical investing is out of date thinking

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

There is a disconnect between investment and the real world

‘There are no moral or ethical considerations when investing’

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.


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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Report: Green, Ethical and Socially Responsible Finance



“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]

Report contents:

What you need to know
Report definition
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
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
Ethical financial services providers: A question of culture
Investment power
Consumers need convincing
The transformative potential of innovation
Consumers can demand change
An ethical economy
An ethical financial sector
Ethical financial services providers
The role of investing
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
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
Payments innovation can boost charitable donations
Consumer engagement in socially responsible activities is high
Healthier finances make it easier to go green
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
Overall trust levels are high
Tax avoidance remains a major concern
The divestment movement
Nationwide significantly more trusted
Trust levels remain high
For financial products, performance is more important than principle
Socially conscious consumers are more concerned
Strategy reports provide little insight for consumers
Lack of clarity regarding corporate culture causes concern
Consumers want more information
The social debt of the financial crisis
For consumers, financial services firms play larger economic role
Promoting financial responsibility
Consumer trust is built on evidence
The alternative opportunity
The target customer

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