Why I chose ethical investment: aligning my money with my values
Sally Reith is an ethical investor. She moved her money so that it chimed well with her values when she took a job as engagement officer at ethical investment co-operative Shared Interest.
Since then, she hasn’t looked back, and in fact has become a staunch advocate for sustainable finance.
Away from investment, Sally has an interest in Fairtrade which led her to become chair of her local Fairtrade Town group – a project that aims to bring communities together in the name of all things Fairtrade. It’s currently Fairtrade Fortnight – we urge you to go and check it out.
Blue & Green Tomorrow posed a few questions to Sally about her ethical investment journey. This is what she had to say.
Why have you chosen to consider ethical investment?
I was brought up with a very strong understanding of fairness and of the value of hard work, and these lessons have stayed with me into my adult life. I try to buy ethical products and services where I can. For example, when I had my own car I had breakdown cover from the Ethical Transport Agency and I regularly buy Fairtrade products, so it just makes sense to me that I should apply my values to my money.
Investment was something I thought only older people did if they had lots of money to invest in stocks and shares. That was until I came across Shared Interest, when I was looking for a job after finishing my studies. Shared Interest introduced me to a new concept: that money could be invested for good.
I was familiar with charitable giving but the idea that I could effectively lend my money for good appealed as I had the opportunity to get it back when I might need it myself (as I did recently when putting down a deposit on a house!)
Did you invest in conventional funds beforehand?
I didn’t have any real investments before I ventured into the world of ethical investment, only the odd small pension fund through previous short-term jobs while studying. I always thought investment would involve huge sums of money and that it was something I would never do. This was probably because my perception of it was as something that caused harm with big international corporations making lots of money quickly, which never appealed to me.
Even a pension wasn’t something I really thought about until a few years ago when I started to think more about my own finances through my role with Shared Interest. With ethical investment, it just made sense to me that I should consider the benefit to others that my money could offer
Are there any sectors that you would refuse to invest in?
I always look for a positive impact with my personal investment.
Are there any sectors that you specifically look to invest in?
I want to know that my hard-earned cash is being used to support someone else who is working hard to do well and do good, wherever in the world they may be. My background is in social development and this has taught me to be inquisitive of any claims that look a bit like greenwashing.
I look for investments that I can trace myself and that don’t hide behind financial jargon. I receive updates and invitations to attend events such as annual general meetings (AGMs) from all the organisations I invest with and value this interest in me as an individual stakeholder in their work, as well as the opportunity to challenge and ask questions of them.
What would you say to encourage or inspire other individuals to invest ethically, sustainably or responsibly?
Don’t be put off by the word investment. If you want your money to be used to support the things that you support, look around – there’s bound to be something you can invest in that will match your own values.
Blue & Green Tomorrow has interviewed a number of specialist ethical financial advisers in the past, and they’re located all across the country. Have a look here to find the one nearest to you.
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