OpinionJul 9 2014

Letter: Being ethical is at best a compromise

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In the US they have a mutual fund – the Vice Fund. It invests in tobacco, alcohol, gambling and armaments.

It has been running since 30 August 2002 and I have been nagging fund managers to launch something similar here – to no avail. Since launch this fund has produced a compound rate of return of 11.09 per cent a year, as compared to the S&P500 over the same period of 8.55 per cent – that is an almost 30 per cent outperformance.

Of course as we are all well aware Invesco Perpetual funds have had a heavy involvement in tobacco for many years and not surprisingly the performance of these funds has also been peerless.

There is nothing illegal about these investments and as ever ethics is at root nothing more than a matter of opinion. Are banks ethical? Are pharmaceutical companies who have patents and expensive medicines which are out of reach of the poor? If you want to be scrupulously ethical there is very little in which to invest, nor is there anywhere to store your cash.

So by and large being ethical is at best a compromise and is neither here nor there. If you want to be truly ethical better just live on a desert island.

Harry Katz


Norwest Consultants