James Coney  

The FCA: A poisoned chalice

James Coney

James Coney

Carney’s swansong

As Mark Carney began ducking for the finish line as governor, he ramped up his rhetoric over climate change.

“A question for every company, every financial institution, every asset manager, pension fund or insurer should be: what’s your plan?”, he told the Today programme when it was edited by Greta Thunberg. To be fair to Mr Carney, this is not the first time he has offered these thoughts, but he is trying to make it his swansong.

The problem is that while environmental, social and governance investing is clearly growing in popularity, trying to help investors make sensible decisions about it is nigh on impossible.

ESG investing is unclear, and the targets companies use to monitor their ESG requirements are a hotch-potch that few understand. It allows many firms to greenwash their credentials while really doing nothing.

I met a property fund manager the other day who bemoaned this situation. His company tries to set high standards for the buildings it owns, but finds that previous owners have fibbed their way to energy-saving achievements that do not exist. Mr Carney has had plenty of time to deal with this, and he has done nothing.

If he wants a legacy, he should have fought for tougher legislation to require British companies to have the highest standards in Europe.

A taxing time of year

Christmas and New Year is one of those rare periods of time where you find yourself at home.

So what do I do? Check and file my tax return, sort out my current accounts and savings, tidy up some other financial affairs, and have a closer look at my investments. It has almost become a seasonal tradition.

I can well understand how 245 people end up filing their tax return at noon on Christmas Day: there is nothing else to do, so why not take that moment to do the one chore that has been hanging over you for weeks on end?

Better that than to leave it to the very last minute.

James Coney is money editor of The Times and The Sunday Times