Opinion 

Meghan Markle and the sparkle effect on your investments

Moira O'Neill

Moira O'Neill

The ‘Meghan effect’ and ‘Markle Sparkle’ are well-known phrases when it comes to fashion, with clothes, jewellery, bags and shoes all immediate hits as soon as she steps out in public.

However, it is not just luxury brands which are of interest to the soon-to-be princess, with sustainability and wellness also high on her list. 

But what sort of investments might Meghan Markle be inclined to hold in her own investment portfolio, given the well-known brands and ethical concerns she is passionate about, and which other investors might also benefit from looking at, due to the ‘Meghan effect’.

Ethical and sustainable funds

Ms Markle is known for opposing fur and leather and is actively helping to stop the global skins trade. Her fondness for cruelty-free 'pants' caused a massive rise in online searches for ‘vegan leather trousers’.

Many people want their money and investments to fit with their personal ethical views. However, investors often look at ethical funds with some degree of scepticism, wondering whether the selection constraints will limit performance.

Funds in the sector can have positive or negative screening, ruling out unethical options or only choosing stocks that have a positive impact - through advances in education, healthcare, technology and beyond. There are some funds that are managing to be great investor options, while offering a feel-good factor.

  • Liontrust Sustainable Future Managed: Liontrust belies the sceptics and has a stellar track record, delivering first quartile performance over both the short and long-term. Managed by Peter Michaelis and his team since 2001, the fund invests in companies that add real and lasting value for shareholders and society. What’s not to like?
  • Standard Life UK Ethical: Standard Life is another fund which treads the line between being ethical and yet delivering performance well. Managed by Lesley Duncan since 2004, the fund seeks to include companies whose business activities are regarded as making a positive contribution to society.

Luxury brands

Although Ms Markle has been seen wearing jumpers from Marks and Spencer, she is typically associated with luxury and designer brands. There are funds that tap into this trend, alongside the option of buying the underlying brands themselves.

  • Pictet Premium Brands: This fund looks to invest in high-quality services and products, from top end fashion and cosmetic brands, including the increasing demand for celebrity endorsed sports apparel, to technology and cars. Many of these companies are looking to China to drive demand, as an increasingly affluent consumer continues to exert their influence globally.
  • Estée Lauder: Estée Lauder is synonymous with premium skincare, makeup, fragrance and hair care products, but they also own a diverse portfolio of brands, including Clinique, Jo Malone (one of Ms Markle’s favourite brands apparently), Michael Kors, Tommy Hilfiger and many more. Listed on the New York stock exchange, the company has been on the rise.

Fitness

Although Prince Harry and Meghan are members of elite gyms, there is a growing trend for fitness options without the typical ties.

  • Gym Group: Gym Group operates a pay as you go style model for members and this no-frills operation has performed very well over the past couple of years. 
  • Nike: One of the world’s most well-known brands, the famous tick has also ticked the right boxes for investors over the past year. There is plenty of competition in the space, but there is still no doubt that it is a brand that makes its mark.

Tapping into developing trends allows investors to get into the market at an early level, which often delivers the greatest returns. The organic food market has already seen big companies get on board, such as Amazon buying Whole Foods to be part of that growing market.

Emerging markets wanting luxury goods, increased fitness and wellbeing awareness providing investment potential, and improving people’s quality of life with ethical and sustainable options, are all ways in which the world is moving – with or without the ‘Meghan effect’.

Moira O'Neill is head of personal finance at interactive investor

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