Simon Howard, chief executive of the UK Sustainable Investment and Finance Association (UKSIF), reflects on the last 12 months in the sustainable investment industry.
This article originally appeared in Blue & Green Tomorrow’s Guide to 2013/14.
It’s been quite a year for me personally. Joining UKSIF in May introduced me to new colleagues and a new network, both characterised by talent, professionalism and a commitment to using finance to build a more sustainable world. Stimulating and scary in equal measure!
On investment, I would say things are looking good. We all know we shouldn’t be driven by performance figures, but we all know we live in the real world. Suffice to say that with good numbers of our type of fund appearing in the first and second quartiles over three and five years in both equity and fixed income, the sceptics are finding it harder than it has been to attack us.
In finance, I think banks are trying harder. Andrew Cave, head of sustainability at the Royal Bank of Scotland, gave honest and encouraging answers when discussing his bank at the UKSIF summer event, and we’ve had several engagements with Barclays in its welcome and public efforts to rebuild its culture. There is also more money available for impact investing than there are opportunities. This is all encouraging.
A highlight of the year was National Ethical Investment Week (NEIW) where feedback from the sector has been very warm. We got improved media coverage, which meant the NEIW message got further than before, and we had our first faith-based events in Scotland and Wales. Blue & Green Tomorrow’s Sustainable Investment Bootcamp was very impressive and I’m not just saying that.
Next year has started already. By that, I mean the deadline for responses to the Law Commission’s consultation on fiduciary duty – of first importance to everyone with a pension fund – is January and that doesn’t give us long. But we’re on it; we’re canvassing member views and we’ll meet the deadline.
We’re also planning for Ownership Day, NEIW and a full programme of member events. Bring on 2014!
Simon Howard is chief executive of the UK Sustainable Investment and Finance Association (UKSIF).