Our members provide their expert opinion on investing ethically

There is no doubt that 2020 has been an incredible year for ethical/ESG investing (regardless of how the rest of this year has gone!). Asset flows into the area have been astonishing and we are happy to say that it is through the efforts of many in our network.

As we've seen so many investors enter this area for the first time, we were keen to know what advice would our investing members would give to those who are still new to the sector.

Here's what our experts had to say:

Patrick Thomas, Investment Direct and Head of ESG, Canaccord Genuity Wealth Management

Make a choice as to the particular letter of E,S, and G that you care about and use that as a framework for picking your investments. Because, despite what data providers or overzealous fund managers might tell you, there is no investment out there that is environmentally very important, has amazing corporate governance, and a positive societal impact.

Kate Capocci, Investment Manager and Lead ESG Specialist, Smith & Williamson

Look beyond the labels. Many fund will label themselves as sustainable, ESG or responsible but will have varying approaches when it comes to achieving this. Whether this be through exclusions, targeting specific themes, or buying best-in-class. All of these approaches are valid, but may not achieve the specific sustainable objective that you had in mind. For example, some responsible funds will invest in fossil fuels, but wouldn't be appropriate to you if you intend to exclude this sector.

Cléo Fitzsimons, Sustainable Investment Lead, Cazenove Capital

Do your homework! Don’t take all the information on ESG that is told to you for face value, make sure to apply your own analysis and pick the investment that is right for your sustainability and investment objectives.

Barry Cowen, Senior Portfolio Manager, Sanlam Investments

Separate E. S and G. They are linked, but they are not the same. Understand the degrees and way in which a fund is focused on each element and then how relevant it’s focus is to what you are looking for.

Tim Cockerill, Investment Director, Rowan Dartington

Think about which areas of ESG are of particular interest to you and the impact you want to have with your investment, and then select funds which are aligned with your values.

Mathilde Rouhi, Sustainable Investment Analyst, Vintage Asset Management

Don’t let the different terminologies and jargon surrounding sustainable investing put you off from getting involved – a healthy range of approaches is an important part of keeping the field diversified and avoiding greenwashing. Just make sure you are given clear and transparent explanations of a company’s approach, as well as concrete examples.