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Economy

Barclays under fire… again

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Barclays chairman Marcus Agius witnessed a revolt by shareholders at the annual general meeting yesterday, despite offering apologies for miscommunication on the issue of executive pay.

A significant 26.9% of shareholders said “no” to Barclays’ executive pay package and a further 21% voted against the re-election of Alison Carnwath the renumeration committee chairman.

Investors, it seems, are no longer willing to sit back and watch executives generously pat themselves on the back amidst financial chaos. They join a growing majority of the general public that has long expressed anger over excessive pay packages.

It was only back in February that Her Majesty’s Revenues & Customs (HMRC) took umbrage at Barclays’ half billion pound “aggressive” tax avoidance tactics, which adds to the distinct feeling that some of Britain’s big banks aren’t taking their role as corporate citizens very seriously.

But while public outrage and a slapped wrist from HMRC is one thing, failing to curry favour with shareholders is quite another.

At the AGM, chairman Marcus Agius said, “There is a significant minority of shareholders who feel that we got some of these [remuneration] judgements wrong for 2011 and that we have not sufficiently taken their views on board.

For this I apologise and I assure you that in the future we will be engaging differently and more purposefully with shareholders in order to ensure that we obtain a broader level of support on remuneration policy and practice.”

Sarah Wilson, a shareholder advisor told the BBC: “The average level of dissent on these issues is about 10% […] So I think in terms of shareholders getting their point across, this is going to go down in the books as one of the most serious rebellions that we’ve seen for a long time”.

And it’s a growing trend. On April 18, The Financial Times reported that some 55% Citigroup’s shareholders would not support a pay plan promising tens of millions of dollars for Chief Executive Vikram Pandit and his directors.

Sarah Wilson also commented at that time: “Shareholders have been giving banks some time to find their way and do the right thing on pay, but I think patience is running out.”

Roger Barker, the head of corporate governance at the Institute of Directors (IoD), spoke on the BBC’s Today programme: “Executive pay over the last decade has just got out of kilter with performance. It’s now at the wrong level, it’s become very opaque, very complex and we really I think need to get it on a much more sustainable level”.

And sustainable is the word. On April 13, Blue & Green Tomorrow covered a new report from the Global Alliance for Banking on Values (GABV)—a coalition comprising 15 of the world’s most sustainable banks. The report noted that adopting good morals and ethics is financially beneficial, with sustainable banks outperforming their mainstream counterparts.

March was Move Your Money month in the UK and though we are now fast approaching May, the idea of encouraging people to move their money away from large, often unsustainable, high street banks is as strong today as ever. B&GT gave a rundown of the top five ethical banks based on data from yourethicalmoney.org to help you vote with your feet.

Sustainable banking and investing is essential if we are to meet many of the global challenges facing us today. Our new Guide to Sustainable Investment offers a refreshing insight into the space. If you haven’t already read, you can download it for free here.

Fill in our online form and we’ll put you in touch with a independent specialist adviser.

Further reading:

Sustainable banks outperforming mainstream counterparts

Performance vs. pay: should boardroom officials be rewarded regardless of their company’s success?

Sustainable investment sparked by protests

Barclays’ half billion “aggressive” tax avoidance

Move your money month

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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