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Invest, Feel Good, And Make a Difference: an interview with the author



Richard Essex, a financial adviser at Grayside Ltd, is the author of a new book on sustainable and responsible investment (SRI) called Invest, Feel Good, And Make a Difference.

Blue & Green Tomorrow caught up with him to find out more.

Tell us a bit about yourself. 

I am an independent financial adviser (IFA) working for Grayside Financial Services, based in Epsom, Surrey. I live in Bookham, in the Surrey Hills, with my partner and two sons. I have two older children through my previous marriage, and a very close and large wider family, so family life is important to me.

I am now 50 and have therefore experienced a fair bit of life.

I am passionate about promoting a sustainable environment. This passion has developed over a number of years. A trigger point to do a little more about it started with a business recycling scheme that I initiated back in 2002.

I am also passionate about music and culture and currently play in a rock/blues band. I am a keen cyclist and tennis player.

From a professional point of view, I am diploma qualified, a member of the Ethical Investment Association (EIA) and a council member of the Surrey Chambers of Commerce.

How did you become an IFA?

Like a lot of people, I tended to stumble into financial services 25 or so years ago. The realisation that we can promote responsible and sustainable investing had added an extra dimension to my current role.

In a nutshell, describe your book.

The book is aimed at encouraging people to consider positive, socially and environmentally responsible investing as part of their overall financial planning. I am trying to focus on people who are interested in making a positive contribution with their money, but don’t know how.

In particular, it aims to challenge eight myths that are commonly attributed to SRI (for example, the myth that you can’t make a healthy return from this type of investing).

What did you discover in the process of writing your book?

The main thing was how much information and comment I had stored away in the back of the old grey matter. Writing was actually quite a cathartic exercise, an opportunity to let it all out.

It also allowed me to dig deeper into research and information which further supports the need for greater SRI. It has made me far more informed than I was before.

Why do you think there was a need for a book on this subject?

Despite there being a growing body of research saying that SRI is a sensible way to ensure financial sustainability, the take up in the retail sector is still very small (around 2-3%). Therefore, there seems to be a disconnect.

I feel this is largely because potential investors are still unsure of what’s out there and are still filled with myths that have been bandied around by certain quarters. Quarters that are largely ill-informed. Therefore there is a need from investment professionals, such as myself, to restore the balance.

Why should people read your book?

I am hoping it will educate and inform people as to the merits of investing this way. I also hope it encourages more debate on this subject between the investing public and the investment industry.

More importantly, I hope it will inspire people to make a more positive contribution with their investments.

As a result of reading your book, what would you like the reader to think?

I would like them to feel more positive about the investment industry generally. Over the recent past, there has been so much negative noise about financial services that it would be great if people could feel more confident about the really positive message that SRI offers.

Invest, Feel Good, And Make a Difference is due for publication over the next few months. If you’re interested in getting a copy, or simply want to hear more about it, drop an email to Richard Essex:

National Ethical Investment Week 2013 runs from October 13-19. Join the debate on Twitter using the hashtag #moneydoinggood.

Further reading:

‘Positive’ investment worth £1.6bn in the UK

63% of UK investors want to be offered sustainable investment options

£11 billion invested ethically in the UK: infographic analysis

Survey: environmental issues concern ethical investors the most

The Guide to National Ethical Investment Week 2013


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