Investments 

Advisers may lose clients if they ignore ethical investments

Advisers may lose clients if they ignore ethical investments

Advisers could lose their clients to rivals if they fail to take their customers' views on ethical investment into account, Thesis has warned.

Jonathan Yousafzai, head of ethical investment at Thesis Asset Management, said advisers could lose clients if they failed to advise on environmental, social and governance-related funds and investment products.

He pointed out these funds were gaining traction with investors but it had taken time for some in the industry to acknowledge the significance of ethical investing, particularly for younger generations.

He said: "[It] is becoming more and more mainstream due to increased consideration of ethics as well as profit.

"Practitioners ignore ethical investment at their peril; it has gathered a great deal of momentum. All the investment managers at Thesis are now discussing ethical considerations with their clients.

"In financial services, when you are speaking to clients, you should naturally touch upon [ethical investing]. Advisers or investment managers who avoid that conversation are running the risk of losing some of their client base."

Mr Yousafzai also said the body of opinion behind ethical investing was now "too strong to ignore", with figures from the Investment Association showing inflows into ethical funds surpassing more than £1bn for the first time in 2017.

The comments came during Good Money Week, which is running from September 29 to October 5 and aims to raise awareness of socially responsible and ethical investing.

In anticipation of Good Money Week, Fidelity issued its Financial Power of Women report which looked into the barriers preventing women from investing and the solutions that would help encourage women to invest.

The report found millennials were more interested in investing ethically. Some 85 per cent of UK millennials responding to the research said they were investing in ethical and socially responsible funds.

Of this group, 74 per cent were female and 75 per cent were male.

Maike Currie, investment director for Fidelity International, said: "Our research indicates that when women invest, the majority choose their investments not only from a returns perspective but also for social and ethical good. But not enough women are investing altogether.

"If women invested just an additional 1 per cent of their salary into their workplace pension, we could close the gender pension gap.

"This means kick-starting engagement with investment overall and initiatives like Good Money Week give necessary exposure to a long-standing issue."

Tim Morris, an adviser for Russell & Co, said: "I’ve recently attended a couple of ESG/sustainable investing seminars with a strong line-up. It’s an area that’s definitely gaining great traction in recent years.

"Previously, ethical funds mainly used negative screening, such as avoiding tobacco, arms, companies with poor human rights records, etc. 

"However, positive screening is becoming increasingly prevalent. This has seen much greater engagement from fund managers when selecting the companies they invest in. Greater focus on corporate social responsibly has also helped."

Mr Morris claimed there was a greater wealth of resources available for advisers and clients to use, adding: "A good client of mine has always insisted on investments with a specific ethical remit. However, he has been keen to know he’s not sacrificing large potential returns.

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