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Richard Essex (Grayside Ltd; south-east) on National Ethical Investment Week 2013



With just over two weeks until this year’s National Ethical Investment Week (October 13-19) kicks off, we’re catching up with financial advisers who specialise in ethical investment.

Grayside Ltd IFA Richard Essex, who is a member of both the Ethical Investment Association (EIA) and the UK Sustainable Investment and Finance Association (UKSIF), is next up.

What are you hoping for at this year’s National Ethical Investment Week?

I’m hoping that NEIW will be a good springboard to really opening up the idea of responsible and sustainable investing to a wider audience. It’s great to see that there is a wide spectrum of events involving really passionate, but professional people promoting this message.

As an IFA, and a member of the Ethical Investment Association, I am keen to do my bit to help promote the merits of investing responsibly to both the public and the IFA industry as a whole.

What did you get out of National Ethical Investment Week last year?

By simply adding my company’s name, Grayside Ltd, as a supporter of NEIW, this helped to add some further credibility and professionalism to our name.

Also by attending events during the week I was able to network with a number of like-minded individuals. Through these contacts I am now better informed and connected within the SRI community.

How has ethical/responsible/sustainable/green investment changed in the past 12 months? What trends have you noticed?

I think there is a greater awareness among investment professionals that there is a real link between environmental and social responsibility and long-term financial sustainability.

I think this offers a real breakthrough. The long running debate over whether rigid ethical screening has cost performance in the past is becoming jaded and unhelpful. Instead, dialogue is now focussing on the fact that good environmental, social and governance research will really add long-term value to an investment looking forward.

Tell us something interesting about you or your firm that investors/clients might not already know.

I am passionate about seeing more people investing in a more positive and sustainable way. This is because I have children and I don’t want them to inherit a more damaged and dangerous planet.

In fact, I am writing a book on this very subject. The final draft has been finished and my good friends at Blue & Green are helping me prepare it for publication very soon.

I hope it will be enjoyable and informative for people who have an interest in making some positive contribution to the planet but can’t quite see the connection with their investments. It also aims to break some of the myths that have been built around ethical and SRI investing.

Why should an investor seek ethical/sustainable/responsible financial advice from you?

I believe I can really help someone build responsible and sustainable investing into their overall financial planning.

Ultimately this is because I am passionate about people making a positive difference with their investments. I also understand that clients may initially want to take smaller steps in this direction.

This is because to many people this will be a new area and they will want to build up trust with it first.

Finally, via Grayside Ltd, I am able to offer specialist knowledge in the SRI/ethical arena. In particular this expertise has been gained through my own research, as well as skills and training offered via my involvement with the Ethical Investment Association. /

Further reading:

The Guide to Ethical Funds 2013

The Guide to Ethical Financial Advice 2013

The Guide to Sustainable Investment 2013