With just over 10 weeks until National Ethical Investment Week 2013 (October 13-19), we’ll be catching up with a different financial adviser that specialises in ethical investment in the run-up to the event.
First up is Edinburgh-based Ethical Futures. Julian Parrott, a partner at the firm, answers our questions.
What are you hoping for at this year’s National Ethical Investment Week?
An opportunity to move the discussion on from the ‘do ethical funds under/overperform’ debate to positioning how ethical and socially responsible investments sits in the process of financial planning and holistic advice.
What did you get out of National Ethical Investment Week last year?
Some media coverage, but apart from that, not much. It’s an important event but it’s very much a case that what you get out of it very much relates to what you put in. For various reasons, I was short on time resource to organise and do much last year.
How has ethical/responsible/sustainable investment changed in the past 12 months? What trends have you noticed?
There’s been a ‘shuffling of the pack’ in terms of some fund ranges. We are seeing management teams feeling more comfortable in the boutique environment rather than large fund houses.
Definitely a move away from strong screening to more thematic and socially responsible approaches – not a universally popular development.
Also, the gradual emergence of social impact and alternative peer-to-peer investments.
Tell us something interesting about you or your firm that investors/clients might not already know.
I’ve realised for a long time that there is no simple stereotype of what an ethical investor is.
Way back in the mid-90s, I use to visit my first ethical investor client at his office in a high security vivisection unit. I extolled the social virtues of a fund I was recommending and I always remember his comment: “I don’t care what humans do to each other; it’s the environment that I’m interested in.”
Since then, I’ve always approached every new client with an entirely open mind as to what might be suitable for them.
Why should an investor seek ethical/sustainable/responsible financial advice from you?
We specialise in ethical and sustainable investments so we hopefully understand the sector and clients values better than the average adviser. We try to reflect client values in our advice but we are willing to play ‘devil’s advocate’ and challenge assumptions about what ethical investment might and might not be.
We are independent financial advisers first and foremost and will put forward a financial plan to meet a clients financial needs and then set that within an ethical context.