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National Ethical Investment Week 2012 begins



Run by the UK Sustainable Investment and Finance Association (UKSIF) and generously supported by Ecclesiastical, The Co-operative and CCLA, National Ethical Investment Week (NEIW) acts as the focal point in the year when individuals and organisations explore how they can make money and make a difference.

Investors, advisers, investment managers, charities, churches, corporations and the media reflect on the economy, society and environment we are building for ourselves and our children, by what we invest in today.

For every pound of real trade in goods and services, £26 is traded financially

We will keep publishing this statistic as its central to our thinking. For every pound of real trade in goods and services, £26 is traded financially. More than any other activity we engage in, what we invest in shapes our economy, our society and our environment. In addition, it massively influences the behaviour, and misbehaviour, of politicians, business leaders, regulators and the media.

Make money, make a difference

In the UK, there are 3.6m people who have more than £100,000, and 8.8m with more than £30,000 to invest. In 2011, EIRIS reported that 750,000 had chosen to invest ethically. That’s a huge gap that needs to be closed urgently. Unless every investor make the connection between investment inputs and real world outcomes, then all the reducing, reusing and recycling we do will have little impact.

Investment builds companies; companies shape our world

Investment builds companies, whether directly through shares and bonds, or indirectly through an investment vehicle. Any investment is a clear vote of support for what that company does. It doesn’t matter if that investment is wrapped up in a pension, ISA, OEIC, unit trust or other financial product.

Not knowing which companies a fund invests is almost certainly irresponsible, immoral, unethical and slothful. Just ask one of the many expert and independent financial advisers listed in our guides or do your own research. The data is widely available and often published in gory technicolour. As in any crime, ignorance is no defence.

You lose any moral right to complain about the behaviour of banks, investment banks and corporations if your money is invested in them, whether directly or indirectly. It’s your money, use it wisely.

Be consistent with your values and beliefs

In always strikes us as odd that people who are good, responsible, moral, ethical and/or religious, turn into an unreformed Gordon Gecko when it comes to what they invest in. Whether the money creates more bombs and bullets, child labour, people trafficking, pornography, gambling, pollution and waste, “I simply don’t care, just as long as I get that extra 0.5% return”.

Join in

In 2011, over 350 financial advisers got involved with NEIW. Over 100 organisations became supporters of NEIW. Nearly 40 events were held in towns and cities across the UK.

Research found that half of the population would like to ‘make money and make a difference’. That is a massive movement for change if it can be motivated to do something by moving bank and adjusting their investment criteria.

NEIW 2012 will clearly be bigger and better than 2011, as more people realise they are making a difference every day with that what’s in their wallet (who they bank with) and what’s in their portfolio (what they invest in).

Two years ago, NEIW coincided with the launch of Blue & Green Tomorrow, so it’s deeply gratifying to still be here for a third year in a row, supporting such an excellent event, and the dedicated team at UKSIF who have made it possible. Over the next week, we’ll be writing about the amazing individuals and organisations who support NEIW and are making a real difference to people’s lives and the planet’s future with what they invest in.

If you like what we say and do then please support our attempt to crowdfund our next three reports on investment, shopping and the media. Even £10 means we can reach more people.

Enjoy the week.

Simon Leadbetter is the founder and publisher of Blue & Green Tomorrow. He has held senior roles at Northcliffe, The Daily Telegraph, Santander, Barclaycard, AXA, Prudential and Fidelity. In 2004, he founded a marketing agency that worked amongst others with The Guardian, Vodafone, E.On and Liverpool Victoria. He sold this agency in 2006 and as Chief Marketing Officer for two VC-backed start-ups launched the online platform Cleantech Intelligence (which underpinned the The Guardian’s Cleantech 100) and StrategyEye Cleantech. Most recently, he was Marketing Director of Emap, the UK’s largest B2B publisher, and the founder of Blue & Green Communications Limited.

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