It always strikes me as ironic that during the festive season when we want to look and feel our best, the dreaded norovirus as well as assorted cases of colds and stomach bugs strike. Over half of my team have been struck down in the last few weeks.
What is happening to the world of ethical funds? Over the past 8 years or so, ethical funds have been one of the few areas of growth in the world of equities investment, almost trebling funds under management. Yet, in the last twelve months, several of the largest incumbent managers have made radical cuts to the resources they devote to these businesses. In October, Barchester Green Investment marked out Henderson, Ecclesiastical and F&C as its ‘spinners’ of the ethical investment world, and Jamie Hartzell, founder of the Ethical Property Company and Ethex, the Ethical Trading Exchange, set up a debate during National Ethical Investment week proposing the motion ‘SRI is for dummies’. To cap it all, last weekend FairPensions, the campaign for responsible investment, published what was described by Investors Chronicle (with undisguised glee) as “a damning report that puts ethical funds under the spotlight.” FairPensions’ principle conclusion that the ethical investment industry is “failing to represent the views of their customers” makes us unsure whether to be proud of achieving second-place in the survey and being ranked among those that are maintaining a “robust, responsive, and engaged approach to their investing” – or whether we want to be seen to be part of the industry at all!
The annual ‘Conference of the Parties’ has yet to regain the momentum and profile that it achieved in 2009 when negotiations took place in Copenhagen. Back then the negotiations concluded in dramatic style with President Obama, the newly–minted Nobel Peace laureate (in part given for efforts to prevent climate change), gate crashing talks with the Chinese to hammer out a deal. In fact, most headlines covering talks since 2009 have focused on the waning of political enthusiasm for action on climate change altogether. An attitude seemingly reflected in the prostrate and exhausted negotiators, comatose on conference centre floors as the talks grind on into the earlier hours.