Industry defends itself against ethical investment criticism

Industry defends itself against ethical investment criticism

The advice industry's two main professional bodies have defended their record of promoting the understanding of socially responsible investments.

Their comments were provoked by a report from the Department for Culture, Digital, Media and Sport which called for those with responsibility for training financial advisers to do more to promote an understanding of ethical investments to their clients.

The report said the ethical investment market remains "under developed", despite a growing level of interest from investors. 

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The Chartered Institute of Securities and Investment said continuous professional development (CPD) courses it runs have had Environmental and Social Impact (ESI) modules for the past 18 months.

Simon Culhane, chief executive of the CISI, said: “Earlier this year we agreed a partnership with the impact investment hub for financial planners, Worthstone, whereby we have endorsed their Adviser Competency Training (ACT). This will supplement our adviser professional development.”

He did not commit to increasing the amount of CISI training on offer, but said the CPD programme continues to “evolve”.

He confirmed the CISI was consulted by the government in the compiling of the 50-page report.

Meanwhile the Chartered Insurance Institute said it already has a paper on ethical and social investing included in its examinations but has no immediate plans to add any further modules.

Keith Richards, managing director for engagement at the CII, said “We have been in contact with the Advisory Group and took part in a roundtable hosted by the group in July.

"We have covered social impact investing in previous CPD seminars and as part of this initiative, we plan to develop a Good Practice Guide on this subject in the new year.”

In August figures from data provider Moneyfacts showed that over one, three, five and 10 years, all ethical funds beat all non-ethical funds.

Over the past year, ethical funds have posted an average growth of 16.8 per cent compared with 15.2 per cent from the average non-ethical fund.

Richard Eagling, head of pensions and investments at Moneyfacts, said the notion that investing in an ethical way means accepting lower investment returns is a “myth”.