Connect with us


Good Money Week: What’s on financial advice experts minds?



Lisa Stonestreet UKSIF’s Good Money Week Programme Director told Blue & Green: “There are advisers, such as those in the Ethical Investment Association (EIA), who have a long established track record of working with their clients to make sure financial objectives and values can be aligned.” This is what some of the EIA’s leading thinkers told us.

Julian Parrot of Ethical Futures said: “After a number of years of upheaval and change in the ethical sector, 2015 was a year of consolidation and restructuring. Leading the way, the Sustainable Futures team, confident in their new home at Alliance Trust, reacted positively to market dynamics by creation of a range of risk rated multi-asset funds.

“Elsewhere, we have seen a successful rebrand at EdenTree and RLAM have finally got ‘the paperwork’ sorted to bring the old CIS Sustainability funds under one roof and made tentative steps to market them.  Following the divorce between Friends Life and F&C, we have also heard positive words from both camps looking to breathe new life into established funds. Finally, whilst funds are the usual focus, it was encouraging to see the Parmenion ethical portfolios featuring in the shortlist for the Moneyfacts ILP Awards.

“Hope springs eternal for a range of new funds and a surge in demand – but I feel this will not materialise without growth in retail distribution, therefore my wish for next is simply that the marketing teams get behind the promotions of quality funds that have in many cases outshone their mainstream peers in recent year. Likewise, I call on my fellow IFA’s to recognise the nascent demand amongst their clients or even just to consider a particular ethical or sustainable fund as a useful portfolio diversifier.”

Lee Coates OBE of Ethical Investors said: “Good Money week is a crucial element in the growth of responsible investment, but it has to contend with ingrained barriers in the financial services industry.  These barriers are two-fold: Lack of Regulatory guidance – whilst the Regulator requires advisers to take note of a client’s Attitude to Risk (AtR) before giving advice (and avoid this area at their peril) there is no such guidance on ascertaining a client’s attitude to the impact of their investments.

“By impact I am referring to the social, environmental and sustainable impact of placing their money in Fund A or Fund B.  For those who would be given the choice, investing responsibly is just as important as their AtR. The lack of direction from the Regulator thereby leads to the second barrier.

“Poor financial advice – advisers have a requirement to consider a client’s AtR, needs and objectives when giving advice – the Know Your Client requirements.  However, it really is up to the adviser to decide what they want to know and anything, such as responsible investment, that might get in the way of a sale is clearly not needed!  If advisers were doing their job properly they would automatically need to know if each client had any social, religious, environmental or other aspect of their life which should be incorporated into the advice process.

“It is true (and sad) that many people will not apply any values at all other than profit to their investments but by asking the question of all clients a good adviser can do their job properly.  By choosing not to ask the question an adviser is making decisions on behalf of a client that are not theirs to make.“

Lisa Hardman of Investing Ethically said: “It seems as if more attention is being paid to SRI at a high level such as “Zurich pledges to focus 10 per cent of investments on delivering ‘positive impact’ ” and an increasing number of companies are taking individual action on a range of sustainability issues, however, this is not translating into more funds for retail investors.

“The range of funds has not significantly changed over the last couple of years although we understand from a number of the fund managers already offering ethically screened funds that some potentially new ethically screened funds are being consulted on so we hope the overall range of funds will increase over the next few years. We are not presently seeing new fund managers coming to the table to offer ethically screened funds.

“The main ethical issues our clients focus on are currently: The arms trade and tobacco, fossil fuels and wanting to invest positively. Just avoiding ‘bad’ stuff is not enough. We are getting more questions about crowdfunding and supporting social enterprise and local business.”

John Ditchfield of Barchester Green said: ““My view is that 2016 is likely to be a big year for responsible investment as the movement to divest from fossil fuels continues to win support from major trusts, foundations and other corporate investors. We also think private investors are finally getting the message that responsible investments can performance very well and that will lead to more activity from individuals investing their savings and/or moving to responsible funds.

“Looking at our own business the merger of Barchester, Castlefield and GAEIA is exciting news because this will create a really substantial and sustainable advice service with the right structure and vision to grow into the mainstream; the group assets under advice will be around £430M”.

Tanya Pein of IN2 Consulting said: “All pension money belongs to individual members and they care deeply about these issues. Responsible investment (RI) is mainstream: retail investors hear warnings about the financial risk of climate change from the Bank of England et al, and they regularly ask about it.

“Retail investors place their trust their fund managers to act on bad practice of all kinds – and increasingly they want specific information about what engagement is going on; not just reassurance. There are expert RI advisers out there – look them up on the EIA website. There is more demand for RI advice than there are advisers to meet it, so it’s smart for all advisers across the UK to use the Good Money Week resources and learn more.

Independent SRI Consultant John Fleetwood of 3D Investing added: “I’d like to see more funds following WHEB and Impax’s lead by issuing impact reports.  Given that many investors base investment decisions on social impacts as well as financial returns, measuring impact can be just as important as monitoring financial performance.

“I’d also encourage fund managers to publish all of their holdings with a brief description of the nature of the business activity.  It’s actually remarkable how difficult it can be to get the full report and accounts from some funds.

“The short form report is widely available but this only lists the top 10 holdings.  In some instances fund managers insist on sending paper copies running to several hundreds of pages which is absolutely crackers.  Come on guys, at the very least it must be easy to publish a pdf on your web site.”

UKSIF’s Stonestreet again: “Good Money Week is an excellent opportunity for advisers [such as those above] to highlight their expertise and for those who may less experienced in this particular area to learn more about how best to meet their clients’ needs in an evolving and growing market.”

“As increasing numbers of investors look to combine their environmental and social concerns with their financial decisions it’s never been more important for advisers to be aware of how to accurately reflect this in their approach to financial planning.”


Ways Green Preppers Are Trying to Protect their Privacy



Environmental activists are not given the admiration that they deserve. A recent poll by Gallup found that a whopping 32% of Americans still doubt the existence of global warming. The government’s attitude is even worse.

Many global warming activists and green preppers have raised the alarm bell on climate change over the past few years. Government officials have taken notice and begun tracking their activity online. Even former National Guard officers have admitted that green preppers and climate activists are being targeted for terrorist watchlists.

Of course, the extent of their surveillance depends on the context of activism. People that make benign claims about climate change are unlikely to end up on a watchlist, although it is possible if they make allusions to their disdain of the government. However, even the most pacifistic and well intentioned environmental activists may unwittingly trigger some algorithm and be on the wrong side of a criminal investigation.

How could something like this happen? Here are some possibilities:

  • They could share a post on social media from a climate extremist group or another individual on the climate watchlist.
  • They could overly politicize their social media content, such as being highly critical of the president.
  • They could use figures of speech that may be misinterpreted as threats.
  • They might praise the goals of a climate change extremist organization that as previously resorted to violence, even if they don’t condone the actual means.

Preppers and environmental activists must do everything in their power to protect their privacy. Failing to do so could cost them their reputation, future career opportunities or even their freedom. Here are some ways that they are contacting themselves.

Living Off the Grid and Only Venturing to Civilization for Online Use

The more digital footprints you leave behind, the greater attention you draw. People that hold controversial views on environmentalism or doomsday prepping must minimize their digital paper trail.

Living off the grid is probably the best way to protect your privacy. You can make occasional trips to town to use the Wi-Fi and stock up on supplies.

Know the Surveillance Policies of Public Wi-Fi Providers

Using Wi-Fi away from your home can be a good way to protect your privacy.However, choosing the right public Wi-Fi providers is going to be very important.

Keep in mind that some corporate coffee shops such a Starbucks can store tapes for up to 60 days. Mom and pop businesses don’t have the technology nor the interest to store them that long. They generally store tips for only 24 hours and delete them afterwards. This gives you a good window of opportunity to post your thoughts on climate change without being detected.

Always use a VPN with a No Logging Policy

Using a VPN is one of the best ways to protect your online privacy. However, some of these providers do a much better job than others. What is a VPN and what should you look for when choosing one? Here are some things to look for when making a selection:

  • Make sure they are based in a country that has strict laws on protecting user privacy. VPNs that are based out of Switzerland, Panama for the British Virgin Islands are always good bets.
  • Look for VPN that has a strict no logging policy. Some VPNs will actually track the websites that you visit, which almost entirely defeats the purpose. Most obviously much better than this, but many also track Your connections and logging data. You want to use a VPN that doesn’t keep any logs at all.
  • Try to choose a VPN that has an Internet kill switch. This means that all content will stop serving if your VPN connection drops, which prevents your personal data from leaking out of the VPN tunnel.

You will be much safer if you use a high-quality VPN consistently, especially if you have controversial views on climate related issues or doomsday prepping.

Continue Reading


How Going Green Can Save Your Business Thousands



Running a company isn’t easy. From reporting wages in an efficient way to meeting deadlines and targets, there’s always something to think about – with green business ideas giving entrepreneurs something extra to ponder. While environmental issues may not be at the forefront of your mind right now, it could save your business thousands, so let’s delve deeper into this issue.

Small waste adds up over time

A computer left on overnight might not seem like the end of the world, right? Sure, it’s a rather minor issue compared to losing a client or being refused a loan – but small waste adds up over time. Conserving energy is an effective money saver, so to hold onto that hard-earned cash, try to:

  • Turn all electrical gadgets off at the socket rather than leaving them on standby as the latter can crank up your energy bill without you even realizing.
  • Switch all lights off when you exit a room and try switching to halogen incandescent light bulbs, compact fluorescent lamps or light emitting diodes as these can use up to 80 per cent less energy than traditional incandescent and are therefore more efficient.
  • Replace outdated appliances with their greener counterparts. Energy Star appliances have labels which help you to understand their energy requirements over time.
  • Draught-proof your premises as sealing up leaks could slash your energy bills by 30 per cent.

Going electronic has significant benefits

If you don’t want to be buried under a mountain of paperwork, why not opt for digital documents instead of printing everything out? Not only will this save a lot of money on paper and ink but it will also conserve energy and help protect the planet. You may even be entitled to one of the many tax breaks and grants issued to organizations committed to achieving their environmental goals. This is particularly good news for start-ups with limited funds as the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) is keen to support companies opening up their company in a green manner.

Of course, if you’re used to handing out brochures and leaflets at every company meeting or printing out newsletters whenever you get the chance, going electronic may be a challenge – but here are some things you can try:

  • Using PowerPoint presentations not printouts
  • Communicating via instant messenger apps or email
  • Using financial software to manage your books
  • Downloading accounting software to keep track of figures
  • Arranging digital feedback and review forms
  • Making the most of Google Docs

Going green can help you to make money too

Going green and environmental stability is big news at the moment with many companies doing their bit for the environment. While implementing eco-friendly strategies will certainly save you money, reducing your carbon footprint could also make you a few bucks too. How? Well, consumers care about what brands are doing more than ever before, with many deliberately siding with those who are implementing green policies. Essentially, doing your bit for the environment is a PR dream as it allows you to talk about what everyone wants to hear.

Going green can certainly save your money but it should also improve your reputation too and give you a platform to promote your business.

Continue Reading