Anna Guyer is an ethical investor. Her eyes were opened to enlightened investment when she came across a specialist ethical financial adviser through her work. And she’s not looked back since.
Anna lives in Dorset with her husband and three children, and runs her own communications consultancy, providing support for pioneers and entrepreneurs involved in creating a more sustainable world.
She took some time out to talk to Blue & Green Tomorrow about her experiences and about how she, and others, have benefited from the way she invests.
Why have you chosen to consider ethical investment?
I work in ethical and environmental communications running my own business and one day I came across a specialist green and ethical independent financial adviser (IFA). I never knew there was such a thing as an ethical IFA and I had not even realised until that point that there was an opportunity to use your money to invest in what you believe in to help create the change you want to see, while making a healthy financial return.
Meeting John Ditchfield at Barchester Green was a bit of a revelation. He showed me that I could choose what to invest in and make really healthy financial returns – from between 6% right up to 28%, depending on the fund you choose. He also persuaded me, finally, that a pension is worthwhile as a tax-efficient savings vehicle. I had seen my dad’s generation lose lots of money in their pensions and I was very sceptical.
So, three years ago I started saving regularly into a self-invested personal pension (SIPP), where I use an investment platform and choose exactly where I want my money to go. I also invested in two ISAs and I hope to start making that a regular monthly saving scheme in 2013, too.
Did you invest in conventional funds beforehand? If so, what was the turning point for you?
I always felt that investing in the stock markets was one big gambling game. Without the bigger picture of effecting change while investing my money, I was not interested in supporting big corporations with questionable ethics to make even more money.
Are there any sectors that you would refuse to invest in?
I would not invest in oil, gas, nuclear, tobacco, alcohol, fast food, and some of the big brands with questionable ethics, like Tesco. I am not a person who is tempted to invest in funds which are negatively screen for those types of companies – I like to choose the sectors that I invest in as they are the ones that I care passionately about and I see the value in helping to create the change that we need to see to move towards a more sustainable way of living within the limits of our planet.
Are there any sectors that you specifically look to invest in?
I look to invest in things that I think will accelerate a green and sustainable lifestyle and a more sustainable economy. I have chosen to invest in new green technologies, in renewable energy, sustainable food and agriculture. I also like to invest in organisations that are managing and supporting resources that are increasingly scarce – like timber and water. I like the Pictet Timber Fund and the IM WHEB Sustainability Fund, as well as Cheviot Asset Management and IMPAX Investment.
What would you say to encourage or inspire other individuals to invest ethically, sustainably or responsibly?
I feel like a grown up doing the right thing for my children! It is a good feeling to proactively select what you want to invest in, to feel that it is making a difference, and to still make a good financial return. It is a win-win all round – surely a no-brainer – even if you only have a small amount to invest. I also love the fact that we can talk about it with the children and it helps them to understand more about what we believe in as a family and to encourage them to think about the responsibility and opportunities there are to take care of the planet.
I absolutely recommend that people go to someone who knows what they are talking about – there is a lot to choose from in terms of ethical and sustainable funds, and the knowledge and skills of an expert to match your risk profile, values and interests, to specific funds, has been crucial for us.
Blue & Green Tomorrow has interviewed a number of specialist ethical financial advisers in the past, and they’re located all across the country. Have a look here to find the one nearest to you.