"As one of the oldest providers of ethical investments in the UK, Healthy Investment fully supports the aims of Good Money Week."
Healthy Investment, the historic Bury-based provider of savings and investments, has put together five tips for local investors who want to make sure their finances are aligned with their values. It has released this checklist in support of Good Money Week, an annual national campaign which this year runs from 24-30 October.
This year’s Good Money Week is themed around the slogan, “Take action to turn ‘bad’ money ‘good’ and spread the word.”
Peter Green (pictured), chief executive of Healthy Investment, said, “As one of the oldest providers of ethical investments in the UK, Healthy Investment fully supports the aims of Good Money Week. We have put this checklist together to help people invest their money in a way that is ‘good’ for wider society and also helps them achieve their own financial goals.”
Healthy Investment’s five ethical investment tips
1. Exclusion and engagement. The traditional approach to ethical investment is to avoid investing in business sectors such as armaments or tobacco that, while legal, many people believe to be harmful. This is called “exclusion”. Nowadays many ethical funds also use their clout as shareholders to stop companies in ‘good’ sectors engaging in ‘bad’ behaviour – for example clothing retailers exploiting their suppliers or food manufacturers creating pollution. This is known as “engagement.” How do the ethical funds you are looking at approach this?
2. Impact investing. The latest development in ethical investment is known as “impact investing”. This involves not just avoiding bad companies but also actively seeking out opportunities to invest in companies and projects that have a social or environmental benefit. An obvious example is sustainable energy. If investors want to follow Good Money Week’s call to “take action” then this should be a consideration.
3. Balancing priorities. If you invest in an ethical fund then your money and your ethical values will be pooled with those of other investors. This inevitably leads to compromises. For example, you might believe passionately in research into vaccines and treatments for diseases like malaria but also have a moral objection to animal testing. These two priorities would usually be incompatible, so you would need to think hard about which of your values was more important to you.
4. How ‘good’ is the fund manager? Some institutions and fund managers specialise in ethical and environmentally sustainable investments. Others do not but might offer one or two “sustainable” funds alongside their other funds, which could be invested in anything. In those cases any profit on the fund management charges you pay could be used to use to subsidise activity with which you might not be comfortable.
5. It’s investment, not charity. Ethical investment is, first and foremost, investment. This is your financial future and you should always remember that. The ethical/socially responsible investment sector is rapidly becoming mainstream and there is no reason why you should not be able to find options that work for you financially as well as ethically. Make sure that you understand your attitude to, and capacity to take, risk and that the investments you make are in line with this. If you are in any doubt then please do speak to a financial adviser – there are an increasing number who specialise in this field.
Important note: The tips above are opinions and not advice. Readers should always seek qualified, expert financial advice before making significant investment decisions. The value of investments can fall as well as rise and investors may not get back the full value of their original investment.