With so much worry and fear focused on our day-to-day spending and the rising cost of living, caring about the climate might seem less of a critical priority than it did a year ago.
The immediacy of the crisis facing Britons today feels financial, but it is also very much about the environment and the cost of doing nothing to address climate change.
At its basest level, inflation is currently in double digits because the price of energy has soared. The reason for that is supply.
Starving us of the raw materials we need to heat our homes, fuel our transport, and power our infrastructure is the aim of Putin’s less overt warfare on the west. It is costing lives here as well as in Ukraine.
It might feel as though there is literally nothing we can do as individuals to change any of this. Heading to the bottle bank doesn’t really seem equal to the task.
But you can. We all can. And it’s actually really easy.
Film writer and director Richard Curtis, he of Love Actually, Four Weddings And A Funeral and Notting Hill fame, has spent much of the past three years campaigning for change – and it’s all about our pensions.
Make My Money Matter, co-founded by Richard, is urging us all to invest our pensions sustainably.
‘The UK pension pot is worth £2.7trillion,’ says Richard. ‘The biggest thing people can do to make a positive change is to check their pension is ethically and sustainably invested.
‘It’s a hugely effective way of executing change – and it’s miraculously 21 times more effective than giving up meat, giving up flying, and changing energy provider.’
Do it now, he says: ‘You can then literally sit at your desk every day of the year in the knowledge that your pension is supporting the best, most progressive, most climate-friendly businesses, rather than randomly investing in things you really don’t believe in.’
It doesn’t need to be difficult, either. There’s a host of apps to help you manage your pension in an ethical way.
Try these for size and to help you invest your pension responsibly…
AJ Bell Youinvest
Investments: Investment funds, company shares, trusts, Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs), bonds
Annual fee: 0.25% (up to £250,000 invested, then at decreasing rates)
Good selection of sustainable options. Six ethical funds in its ‘favourite funds’ list, which is hand-picked by experts as being most likely to bring you a steady profit.
Investment: Investment funds, company funds, trusts, ETFs
Annual fee: 0.4% (up to £250,000 invested, then at decreasing rates)
BestInvest is a stalwart of the investing space and its best funds list includes at least nine ethical options and – for those seeking a managed solution – it offers two sustainable ready made portfolios to suit your preferred level of risk.
Both invest in companies that aim to have a positive effect on the world while avoiding those that have a detrimental impact.
The Big Exchange
Investments: Equities, bonds
Annual fee: 0.25%.
The Big Exchange, which was co-founded by The Big Issue, is an online investment platform which only lists funds that are proven to be making a positive difference to the planet and its people.
You can choose to invest in the issues that matter to you most – whether that’s lowering carbon emissions, contributing to social housing or helping to protect wildlife. You can invest from £25 a month or a lump sum of £100.
CIRCA5000 (previously tickr)
Annual fee: 0.5% (0.7% for pensions).
Launched in 2019, CIRCA5000 is a mobile-only app that allows you to invest in companies that are aiming to solve social and environmental issues around the world.
It aims to make investing easy and accessible to everyone, including those with zero experience of investing.
You can put your cash into companies according yo three separate themes – People, Planet, or People & Planet – at a risk level you feel comfortable with. Minimum investment is £5. As well as the annual fee, there’s a £1 monthly subscription fee.
Investments: Stocks in a targeted portfolio of publicly-listed companies
Annual fee: 0.6%.
Clim8 exclusively selects companies and funds that are focused on tackling the climate crisis. Investments through the app span six climate-friendly ‘megatrends’: Circular Economy, Sustainable Food, Water Systems, Green Energy, Clean Mobility and Climate Tech.
Fidelity Personal Investing
Investments: Investment funds, company shares, trusts, ETFs
Annual fee: 0.35%(up to £250,000 invested then at decreasing rates).
A global investment giant, Fidelity has around 2.5million clients across the UK, Europe and Asia Pacific.
There’s lots of content to pore over on the website but our favourite feature is the ‘Fidelity Sustainable Investment Finder,’ which helps you find the right ethical investment for your needs. Fidelity currently has a massive 391 sustainable funds available to choose from.
Investments: Investment funds, company shares, trusts, ETFs, bonds
Annual fee: 0.45%.
Hargreaves Lansdown is making strides to make sustainable investment a bigger part of its offering, relaunching its Wealth Shortlist in June 2020 to include responsible funds for the first time.
The list is made up of funds chosen by experts as having the greatest potential to financially outperform their peers over the long term.
There are currently six funds in the ‘Responsible Funds’ category, which are Liontrust SF Corporate Bond, Aegon Ethical Equity, BNY Mellon Sustainable Real Return, Janus Henderson UK Responsible Income, Troy Trojan Ethical Income (Class X), and Legal & General Future World ESG Developed Index.
Investments: Investment funds, company shares, trusts, ETFs, bonds
Annual fee: £119.88 (£9.99 fixed monthly charge – or £19.99 for Super Investor plan).
From its list of more than 140 ethical investment options, it has picked out what it considers to be the 40 best-in-class funds, investment trusts and exchange-traded funds (ETFs). Its ACE 40 stands for ‘Avoids Considers Embraces’.
The list of ‘best in class’ funds is separated according to asset class and investment category.
Investments: Mutual funds, ETFs
Annual fee: 0.6%.
Wealthify is what is known as a robo-adviser, which means you don’t have to do any work: you say how much risk you want to take and how much you want to invest each month and an algorithm invests it in a selection of funds for you.
However, while Wealthify’s five Ethical Plans are the best ethical and sustainable robo options out there, they still contain passive funds (AKA index trackers) that invest in oil and gas majors, big banks etc (though no tobacco), so bear that in mind.
Investments: Bonds and company shares
Annual fee: None.
Triodos Bank has a crowdfunding platform that offers Innovative Finance ISA (IFISA) investments in a range of positive impact bonds.
These enable you to invest directly in pioneering organisations that are delivering positive change. All of the investment opportunities offered by Triodos, a B-Corp firm, are with organisations delivering positive environmental, cultural or social impact.
Ethical pensions: the questions to ask
Leslie Gent, head of responsible investing at Coutts, shares the questions you need to ask yourself and your pension provider to get your savings making a difference in the world:
- Is my pension fund invested with a ‘responsible’ pension provider?
- If so, what does this mean? For example, how are they selecting companies that have a positive impact on people and the planet? Are there any activities they don’t invest in, such as thermal coal?
- How is the fund manager or pension provider using its influence for good? For example, are they engaging with the companies they invest in to reduce their emissions, or have diverse boards?
- How have the green funds they offer performed against other funds, and what do they expect their long-term performance to be?
- What kind of public commitments have they made as a pension provider/fund manager? For example, have they committed to net zero investments?
- Are they a member of any networks or initiatives such as Climate Action 100+ or the Net Zero Asset Owners Alliance? If so, how are they using these networks to improve their own governance environmental and social strategy?
- If I’m not happy with my current fund, what are some responsible or green funds they offer and how can they demonstrate the credentials of these funds?
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