Ethical Investing  

IFAs needs to stop prioritising ‘growth at all costs’

IFAs needs to stop prioritising ‘growth at all costs’
Rebecca Kowalski, owner of Overstory Finance

The advice industry needs to move away from a model that focuses on growth “at all costs” in the face of the climate crisis, according to a sustainable finance advocate.

Speaking to FTAdviser, Rebecca Kowalski, owner of a sustainable investment consultancy Overstory Finance, said she’s not naive enough to think that that growth isn't needed but urged IFAs to look further.

"I just think that growth at all costs, or maximum growth should not be the thing that IFAs use to attract the client and retain the client," she said. 

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“This is obviously a big ask, but in years to come when young people are running the show more, I can see it happening that the value offered by an IFA becomes much more than just the growth you can achieve for a client every year."

Kowalski explained that there is so much more that IFAs can offer than that.

"Once the conversations and the dialogue start opening up, we can start moving away from that and stop resting everything on what great asset selectors we are," she said.

Having worked in financial advice for over 25 years, Kowalski moved from paraplanning to a role in compliance and sustainability management before she decided to go out on her own in 2021.

She set Overstory finance up in August last year to help financial advisers embrace sustainable investing and “remove hurdles” that stand in their way.

Fundamental to the company’s approach is the fact that everyone shares the same carbon budget and finite natural resources, with Kowalski arguing that we need to move to an economic and social system “in which both people and planet can thrive”.

Kowalksi has always had an interest in sustainability, but said it was her daughter who was the biggest influence on her when it came to changing her career. 

It was when her daughter, Jen, told her she didn’t want to have children anymore because of the impact of climate change that Kowalski decided she needed to do more.

“Everybody has a trigger that makes them engaged with this stuff. For some in the world, it might be that their house has just flooded, but for me, it was the concept that my firstborn, who I always imagined will be a fantastic mother, was quite possibly not going to give me grandchildren anymore. 

“That was the thing that really made me prepared to not just do this as part of my job, but to actually disrupt and go the extra mile to try and do as much as I possibly could in my own way,” Kowalski said.

Industry response

Overstory Finance works with advice firms on a bespoke basis, and offers one-off assistance or ongoing support with investment strategy, compliance requirements, client communications and staff training.