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Ruth Sullivan

Hand cradles a globe above the cracked earth

Half of UK consumers would like to check the ethical credentials of their next investment

Post credit crunch, most people would expect investors - or would-be ones - to focus on how to gain returns from any financial product, while other considerations such as ethical concerns have headed out of the door.

Not so, it seems. An Ipsos Mori/Eiris consumer survey that dropped into my email box today, showed nearly half of UK consumers are keen to find out about the ethical credentials of their next investment. Given that most of those polled are already investors, they are likely to have some relevant views.

They felt banks and other financial institutions should prioritise concerns such as protecting human rights, investing in fair trade, protecting the environment and tackling climate change. These are now the hot issues rather than the more traditional ones of manufacturing relating to alcohol, tobacco and gambling, says Eiris, the Ethical Investment Research Service.

But there is still a long way to go. Awareness of ethical financial products is low as is trust, with more than a third not believing claims made by financial providers. But only 15 per cent thought ethical products were likely to underperform similar standard products.

They might want to take a look at a report brought out this week by Mercer, the consultant, that lays out volumes of academic research on how taking account of environmental, social and corporate governance issues can have a positive impact on portfolio returns.

One thing is sure. Green, social and ethical funds have grown considerably in number and size in Europe over the past year, in spite of the fall-out from the financial crisis.

The number of retail funds increased over the year to the end of June to 683 from 537, or by 27 per cent, according to Vigeo, a corporate social responsibility ratings agency, and Morningstar.

Ruth Sullivan

Norway’s Government Pension Fund seems to have it all. Oil wealth, decent returns and a responsible approach to investment.

The decision to put part of its oil wealth to work for the country’s pension pot is one that makes many pension savers in other parts of the world gnash their teeth in envy, particularly if they happen to live in a resource-rich country that has not invested its black gold in the same way, such as the UK. 

Ruth Sullivan

As the gold price tops $1000 amid worries over dollar weakness, many investors are piling into bullion as a safe haven.

But for those still not convinced try reading Reasons to Avoid the Gold Rush or Avoiding the gold trap  

 

Ruth Sullivan

Just about everyone would like to make some amendments to the proposed EU regulations for the alternative investment industry, from hedge funds to governments, industry consultants and pension schemes.

The latest laments come from Mercer, the pension consultants, and their pension fund clients who agree the industry needs improvement and better supervision but call for Brussels to take a broader look outside the EU to see what is happening to the industry on a global regulation front.

Ruth Sullivan

Survey shows plans to both fire and hire asset managers

Musical chairs: Survey shows plans to both fire and hire asset managers

One way or another asset managers are in for a bumpy ride this year as many are likely to be replaced.

At least that’s the scenario according to Mellon Transition Management, part of BNY Mellon Asset Management, which says a record number of global pension funds and endowments are planning to change asset managers as they try to reduce risk.

Ruth Sullivan

Just in case anyone is wondering why BlackRock is trying to snap up Barclays Global Investors, a small reminder dropped into my mailbox today with a preview of research on the exchange traded fund industry, albeit delivered by BGI.

It quotes data from mutual fund consultant Strategic Insight to the effect that net sales of mutual funds were minus $6bn in the first three months of the year compared to net sales of $7.7bn for ETFs, one good reason why the US money manager might be keen to get hold of BGI’s business.

Ruth Sullivan

It’s time the asset management industry held boards to account for not listening to what fund managers are saying over corporate governance issues.

Ruth Sullivan

White knuckle ride ahead

White knuckle ride ahead

Asset managers should grit their teeth for a painful year ahead. Banks and hedge funds may have been taken to the extremes of their pain thresholds already but it’s yet to happen to active managers.

About the blog

FTfm is no longer updated but it remains open as an archive.

FTfm's specialist writing team offer their insights into the global fund management industry.

About the authors

Pauline Skypala has been editor of FTfm for four years having previously been deputy personal finance editor. She joined the FT in 1999 and has been writing on savings and investment issues throughout her career.

Steve Johnson, FTfm deputy editor, has been a journalist for 17 years, 10 of which have been with the FT.


Sophia Grene, reporter on FTfm, has been a financial journalist in print and online for 12 years.

Ruth Sullivan has worked as a financial/business journalist and foreign correspondent and for the past 10 years has been at the FT.

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