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UK gets largest ethical investment business as Gaeia and Barchester Green join forces



Two leading financial advisers, Gaeia and Barchester Green, have come together to create what is thought to be the UK’s largest dedicated ethical and sustainable investment advice business.

Castlefield Capital, which bought Gaeia in 2011, revealed on Monday that it had signed a deal to acquire Barchester Green – one of the oldest ethical advice firms on the market, having been in operation since 1985.

Both Gaeia and Barchester specialise in giving financial advice to clients solely on ethical, responsible and sustainable investment – unlike some firms that deal in conventional investing as well.

John Eckersley, CEO of Castlefield, said the long-term plan was to become “the natural place to come for responsible investment advice”. Meanwhile, Gaeia director Olivia Bowen described the deal as a “natural coming together”.

Speaking to Blue & Green Tomorrow, Eckersley added, “What I’m hoping it will do is properly put us a little bit more on the radar with other advisory firms who are in this sector already, or individuals thinking they want to be in it. We’re very open to conversations about further growth.”

Gaeia is based in Manchester while Barchester Green operates primarily in the south of England, with offices in London, Salisbury, Southampton, Exeter, Bristol and Devon. Eckersley confirmed that a new joint office would soon be opening in London.

Castlefield, which is employee-owned, estimates that its acquisition of Barchester boosts its funds under management by 75%. Bowen said this “gives us greater clout to influence the financial services industry, lobby for responsible capitalism and share ownership, and push for stronger corporate responsibility across all the sectors in which we invest”.

Asked how the deal would affect clients of all the firms involved, Barchester director John Ditchfield added, “The overwhelming majority of clients are very happy with the service they currently receive, so we don’t want it to have any negative impacts – but I can’t see that it would. The positive impact would be a more rigorous investment proposition.”

Meanwhile, the sustainable investment industry has welcomed the news. George Latham, chief investment officer at leading asset manager WHEB, said, “Barchester Green and Castlefield Gaeia are both leading names in the sustainable and responsible investment industry. By joining together, I’m sure they will strengthen and broaden their reach, which will be a positive for the whole sector. We wish them every success.”

Photo: tatinoc via freeimages

Further reading:

Teach financial planning in schools to improve economy, says advisory group

Vital for wealth managers to understand investors’ values and motives

Sustainable financial advice: IFA Helen Tandy on values-based investment

From ethics to sustainability: shifting the investment debate for 2014

The Guide to Ethical & Sustainable Financial Advice 2013


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