Chris Ryan talks to Michael Tomlinson MP about making financial services available for all and the benefits of socially conscious, or ESG investing


In the Peer’s Dining Room, I had the chance to speak to Michael Tomlinson MP about the challenges of making financial services available for all. The increase in fees caused directly by regulatory work is an unintended consequence of the financial protection the public enjoys. Furthermore with only 25,000 authorised financial advisers in the UK many people cannot affordably access financial advice. I was grateful to Michael for giving up time from his busy day, and we were all relieved not to be speaking about Brexit!

Michael’s professional tour guide, Will, then showed me around Westminster Palace. So many events that have shaped our nation have taken place in the Palace of Westminster. I stood on the spot where John Bellingham shot and killed Prime Minister Spencer Perceval in 1812. We also took in Westminster Hall where in January 1649 parliament tried and condemned to death King Charles I. In the 20th century Winston Churchill, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother lay in state there. It is truly walking through the history of our nation, and Will’s enthusiasm made it even more interesting. I concluded the visit by listening to MP’s debate the challenges of achieving a “net zero carbon” economy and it’s clear that the will-power is there to achieve such an ambitious goal.

Sustainable or Impact Investing

I have been researching sustainable or “impact” investing, also known as ESG, for around 9 months. This style of investing recognises that successful businesses of the future will have a positive impact on the world. Companies can create positive changes in our world by putting talent before gender or race, avoiding involvement in controversial products, and reducing harm to the environment . In the past we used ethical funds to screen out the worst-behaving companies. Sustainable investing goes further by selecting businesses that adopt positive business practices. We all know about the demise of Blockbuster who missed the chance to buy Netflix as a startup! We want our clients’ to invest in companies that can survive in a future where resources are tighter and regulation is stronger than now.

Investing ethically no longer means having to accept more capital volatility. Today the landscape has totally changed, with a much wider pool of shares and funds.  Morgan Stanley surveyed asset owners and found that 70% are integrating sustainable investing into their process. It is now seen as a way to manage risk and returns, and over $22.8 trillion is invested sustainably. Another example is the Japanese Government Pension Investment Fund with $1.3 trillion of assets. It is increasing the ESG allocation of its shares from 3% to 10%. Meanwhile, New York City plans to remove $189 billion of public pension funds from fossil fuels over the next 5 years.

Our aim is to start with around 10% of our clients’ money invested in ESG funds and build up to 30% over the next 5 years. Your choices are limited currently but we expect more funds to adopt ESG criteria in the near future.

LGT Vestra Wealth launch Sustainable Managed Portfolios

At the close of the day I attended the official launch of LGT Vestra Wealth’s Sustainable Impact portfolios at Covent Garden. The venue chosen was Petersham Nursery because all their products are from sustainable sources, including their staff uniforms. Phoebe Stone, lead fund manager, opened the proceedings to introduce the funds. Then Prince Max of Liechtenstein spoke enthusiastically about how LGT’s ethical approach has driven positive change within the business. I had the chance to speak with the fund managers and princely family to learn about the latest developments. On a previous occasion we visited LGT’s head office in London to undertake detailed due diligence on their investment process.

We are all stakeholders in our world, and in our view have duty of care to our children to leave them a planet fit to support their lives. Investment management firms around the world control trillions of pounds of wealth. Our world could change for the better if these managers are willing to invest using ESG principles

You can read more about our investment proposition here.

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