Ecclesiastical and Kames were unveiled as the top two fund providers as voted for by Ethical Investment Association (EIA) members. But completing the top four are Jupiter and F&C, who were picked out by more than half of respondents.
In a survey of financial advisers that Blue & Green Tomorrow conducted in December 2012, we asked which funds advisers used for ethical investment options. Among the EIA membership, Ecclesiastical and Kames came out on top, with Jupiter and F&C close on their heels. Three are signatories of the UN-backed Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) and all four are members of the UK Sustainable Investment Forum (UKSIF).
John Duffield, who went on to found New Star Asset Management, launched award-winning Jupiter in 1985. It has become one of the most well-known brands in the fund management space, and is headed by Edward Bonham Carter, brother of the famous actress, Helena. Jupiter provides three EIRIS-rated options: the Jupiter Responsible (previously Environmental) Income Fund (est. 1999, assets under management £43m), the Jupiter Ecology Fund (1988, £341m), and the Jupiter Green Investment Trust PLC (2006, £33m).
The Responsible Income Fund invests primarily in the UK, in a portfolio of companies considered by the fund manager to be responding positively to and profiting from the challenges of environmental sustainability or are making a positive commitment to social well-being. The Ecology Fund invests worldwide in companies that demonstrate a positive commitment to the long-term protection of the environment. Meanwhile, the Jupiter Green Investment Trust PLC aims to generate long-term capital growth by investing in a diverse portfolio of companies that provide environmental solutions.
In terms of performance over three years, the trio of funds represent a mixed bag. Responsible Income delivered 33.1% against a benchmark of 10.7%; Ecology delivered 8.1% against the benchmark 22.5%; and Green Investment Trust delivered 14.8% over three years against the benchmark 24.6% (source: Jupiter, 31/12/12).
F&C Asset Management was established in 1972 as the manager of the Foreign and Colonial Investment Trust, a publicly traded investment trust established in 1868. F&C’s Stewardship Funds are some of the longest established ethical options available to investors. The asset manager has been an active proponent of robust corporate governance, ranking first in a recent FairPensions report into responsibility.
F&C provides four EIRIS-rated options: the F&C Ethical Bond Fund (2007, £227.6m), F&C Stewardship Growth Fund (1984, £598.4m), F&C Stewardship Income Fund (1987, £289.4m) and F&C Stewardship International Fund (1987, £402.3m).
The Ethical Bond Fund invests primarily in UK fixed interest securities of an ethically screened and diversified list of companies. Stewardship Growth Fund investment is concentrated in UK companies whose products and operations are considered to be of long-term benefit to the community both at home and abroad. Stewardship Income Fund Investment is concentrated in UK companies whose products and operations are considered to be of long-term benefit to the community both at home and abroad, and will generally exclude those considered involved with harmful products and practices or which trade extensively with oppressive regimes. And the Stewardship International Fund focuses on capital growth based on positive and negative criteria.
Over three years, the Ethical Bond Fund delivered 24.4% against a benchmark of 23.4%; the Stewardship Growth Fund delivered 38.5% against a benchmark of 36.9%; the Stewardship Income Fund delivered 44% against a benchmark of 35.9%; and the Stewardship International Fund delivered 28.6% against a benchmark of 26.7%.