THE WRONG KIND OF GREEN

TODAY’S BLOG

THE WRONG KIND OF GREEN

I appreciate that we are now in the throes of an election campaign, I am not referring to the Green Party. You may think that I’m also about to embark on another piece about the green stuff we all know as money and how quantitative easing (QE) hasn’t worked for the right people, merely inflated markets and the balance sheets of the richest. Frances Coppola has a very good book on this topic (“The People’s Case for Quantitative Easing”).

Today is Halloween 2019. It was only a few days ago that Good Money Week concluded. This is a noble attempt to broaden the knowledge of investors about sustainable and ethical investments, these days called ESG investing.

Failing to understand the investment world whilst holding cash in a miserly deposit accounts and having a heart to do good makes for a dangerous mix. Green or ethical investment is mainstream these days. We have always offered ethical investment screening and I have recently reviewed selections within our portfolios, making some changes. As mentioned, I was also challenged to have ESG as the default portfolio for clients, having an opt out rather than an opt in approach.

WOOD FOR THE TREES

Life savings gone

About a year ago a friend of a friend got in touch about an investment that she had made. She had invested all her life savings into what she thought was a fund that invested in renewable energy. Sadly, it was a scam and scams require the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) to get involved.

Seeing the wood for the trees

Today a similar story reached my desk. Yesterday the SFO made an arrest at Gatwick airport of one Omari Bowers who together with Andrew Skeene was a Director of Global Forestry Investments (GFI). The SFO have been investigating them and their company for alleged frauds between August 2010 and December 2015. According to the report Bowers has failed to attend two Court appearances over the summer. On Monday Mr Skeene appeared at Southwark Crown Court where he has been charged with three offences of conspiracy to defraud, four counts of forgery and one of misconduct in the course of winding up.

GFI had been promoted as a safe, ethical investment in Brazilian teak plantations, with investors offered to buy land and harvest steady profits. Now pause. Read that again. Think of what we “know” about the trees in Brazil.

Cutting it down to size…

Maria Thedoulou of law firm Stokoe writes “GFI was one of two schemes run by the former directors promoting two teak investment schemes in Brazil. The Insolvency Service found GFI received £20,146,631 from the sale of plots in the Belem Sky Project and £3,863,185 from plots sold in the Para Sky Project. In respect of Belem Sky, investors were offered the chance to invest a minimum of £5,000 in the teak plantation for promised returns of “10-20%” per annum. While investors who contributed to the £24 million plus pot in fact saw little or no returns, over £13 million arising from the sale of the plots went into the bank accounts of Bowers and Skeene.”

How can rogues access your funds?

I’m sure that you will appreciate that there are rogues “out there” attempting to part you from your money. In practice the UK is tightly regulated, so by and large it isn’t easy to buy a scam investment, though adverts of Facebook and the internet generally make this possible. Most scams of this nature are done through your pension – a SIPP. Eh? Don’t I have one of those? Well probably if you are a client of ours. In the same way that you probably own a car. There is nothing wrong with a SIPP, its simply a self-invested personal pension. When used properly it is a brilliant pension. If you fill it with dross (because you can) then it will turn toxic on you very quickly. The same being true of attempting to fill your car up with chocolate. It won’t work. Yet there are “advisers” (for which I mean liars and con men) that will not only assist but promote such ludicrous schemes. One such advisory firm being “Emerald Knight” – do google them. This stuff is awful. People like Angela Brooks will be a source of some comfort as she continues to fight the good fight against these sorts of scams, which happen all the time (Angela appears in our magazine Spotlight- October 2019).

Hard wood, soft wood – would that it were so simple

I understand that the stock market may be confusing and perhaps scary. Companies go bust, we regularly hear about billions being wiped off the markets. Yet the truth is rather different. You never, ever hear “billions were wiped onto the markets today”. You rarely hear that these are actual businesses, employing people and solving problems. You simply hear about those that dodge tax. If you buy a market tracking type of fund, you own all of the companies, “good” and “bad”. These are traded in highly regulated markets every second of the day. Market fraud leads to prison. Certainly investing is not for everyone. If you have enough money in the bank to provide you with all your needs, allowing for inflation until your death, you probably do not need to invest. The rest of us do. Get proper advice about how to do this. You can apply ethical / SRI or ESG criteria to your investments, but above all use an adviser that is not promoting dross and saying things you want to hear, but deep down there are alarm bells ringing that something is desperately wrong.

If you know someone that is comtemplating investing in this sort of stuff or has mentioned “a great investment opportunity” to you please tread carefully, give them my details and tell them to get in touch before their investments go up in a cloud of smoke.

Dominic Thomas
Solomons IFA

You can read more articles about Pensions, Wealth Management, Retirement, Investments, Financial Planning and Estate Planning on my blog which gets updated every week. If you would like to talk to me about your personal wealth planning and how we can make you stay wealthier for longer then please get in touch by calling 08000 736 273 or email info@solomonsifa.co.uk

GET IN TOUCH

Solomon’s Independent Financial Advisers
The Old Bakery, 2D Edna Road, Raynes Park, London, SW20 8BT

Email – info@solomonsifa.co.uk 
Call – 020 8542 8084

WHAT WE’RE ALL ABOUT

If you would like a no-nonsense one page document explaining what financial planning is all about please enter your email here.

=

GET IN TOUCH

Solomon’s Independent Financial Advisers
The Old Bakery, 2D Edna Road, Raynes Park, London, SW20 8BT

Email – info@solomonsifa.co.uk    Call – 020 8542 8084

WHAT WE’RE ALL ABOUT

If you would like a no-nonsense one page document explaining what financial planning is all about please enter your email here.

=

THE WRONG KIND OF GREEN2019-10-31T14:06:26+00:00

BLOOMING MARVELLOUS & SUSTAINABILITY

TODAY’S BLOG

BLOOMING MARVELLOUS & SUSTAINABILITY

The British summer – when it arrives is a wonderful time when we all complain that it is too hot and expect this to be a short-lived experience, one with remedied with regular ice lollies and ice cream and a little too much Pimm’s. The summer sports events begin and from an English perspective, invariably end soon thereafter. This year we have seen a rather better competitive endurance from the Lionesses at the women’s FIFA Football World Cup. Wimbledon has begun and we wonder whether the covers will soon appear as the rain makes an unwelcome, but regular appearance.

Many of us spend rather more time outside in the garden, soaking up the sunshine and struggle to make sense of hosepipe bans when just a few weeks earlier we were ankle-deep in rainwater. This brings its challenges to those of us that enjoy gardening. The summer also brings about rural and floral events. The RHS Hampton Court Flower Show has begun. The Tudor grounds are transformed into spectacular smaller gardens and rammed with exhibitors demonstrating their skills and ideas. It is a fantastic show that I would encourage you to attend. Conservation, sustainability and a good gin and tonic, and a three-in-one with one I tried earlier by Warner’s Distillery.

Blooming Marvellous & Sustainability

Sustainability in your portfolio

So how about sustainable investing? When I started as an adviser, rather too many summers ago, there were relatively few ethical funds at the time. The most famous was the Stewardship Fund, which was really the first ethical fund launched in the UK in 1984. This was under the backing of Friends Provident and run by the late Charles Jacob, who died 3 years ago at the age of 94. Jacob and Friends Provident both had their faith at the core of their why?

This year we have seen the introduction of 16-year old Greta Thunberg onto the world stage, and a climate crisis declared. Protests in London and David Attenborough took to the stage at Glastonbury, declaring it the largest plastic-free festival and encouraging us all to take climate change seriously whilst announcing a new series “Seven Worlds, One Planet”.

ESG is the new SRI is the new Ethical

Today, ethical investment has evolved, initially through SRI (Socially Responsible Investment) and now more recently ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance). In truth the term ESG was first coined way back in 2004 in a study “Who Cares Wins”. The criteria have shifted, partly as the discussion about sustainability has evolved. In 1984, ethical investment meant not investing in certain companies in specific sectors. However not everyone holds the same views on alcohol or tobacco in the way that Methodists and Quakers did in 1984. In short, the ethical or SRI and ESG market is globally worth over $20 trillion. New funds have been launched all in attempt to meet the concerns of concerned investors.

Many of our clients prefer “ethical investing” or at least for their investments to be screened through the lens of ethics as far as it is possible to do so. There are now plenty of solutions, but certainly no obvious ones. The cost of investing is higher which is counter-intuitive for me as an adviser, but a price many are willing to pay. Returns vary, but one may take some comfort in the logic that ultimately surely those companies that adjust behaviour to reduce carbon emissions and so forth will ultimately be the long-term winners. Yet there are no certainties in life as we all know.

If you would like to discuss ethical investing, or however you would prefer to term it, please get in touch. Either email me or pick up the phone and call me on 020 8542 8084.

In the meantime, here is the trailer for the new series by Sir David Attenborough.

Dominic Thomas
Solomons IFA

You can read more articles about Pensions, Wealth Management, Retirement, Investments, Financial Planning and Estate Planning on my blog which gets updated every week. If you would like to talk to me about your personal wealth planning and how we can make you stay wealthier for longer then please get in touch by calling 08000 736 273 or email info@solomonsifa.co.uk

GET IN TOUCH

Solomon’s Independent Financial Advisers
The Old Bakery, 2D Edna Road, Raynes Park, London, SW20 8BT

Email – info@solomonsifa.co.uk 
Call – 020 8542 8084

WHAT WE’RE ALL ABOUT

If you would like a no-nonsense one page document explaining what financial planning is all about please enter your email here.

=

GET IN TOUCH

Solomon’s Independent Financial Advisers
The Old Bakery, 2D Edna Road, Raynes Park, London, SW20 8BT

Email – info@solomonsifa.co.uk    Call – 020 8542 8084

WHAT WE’RE ALL ABOUT

If you would like a no-nonsense one page document explaining what financial planning is all about please enter your email here.

=

BLOOMING MARVELLOUS & SUSTAINABILITY2019-07-03T17:14:58+01:00

Good Money Week 2016

Good Money Week 2016

Sorry, I’m a bit late in the week to give a mention to Good Money Week 2016. If you are a client or have been following my blog over the years, you will know that I have been an advocate of what used to go by a different name, but is essentially the same National Ethical Investment Week.

Let’s start by stating the obvious, not all businesses are terribly “nice” some are run by people that can only be described as “psychopaths” (see book by Jon Ronson) and others are simply all about extracting as much profit without any regard for people or the planet. However, when it comes to defininig “good” and “bad” we all know that life gets somewhat complex.

Ethical investment began life really as a way of not investing in certain industries – typically, gambling, pornography, weapons and alcohol. Since then things have moved on, the world has become more complex and Governance has become arguably the key issue for businesses.

Ethical or Socially Responsible Investing (SRI) offers a range of options to best suit your values. It is not necessarily the case that these will perform worse than “non ethical” investments, which is often a misconception. In any event looking long-term, one can surely make the argument that sustainable businesses, services and products are highly likely to be profitable in the future.

SRI and Ethical Portfolios

Anyhow, quite a number of our clients express the view that they would like ethical criteria applied to their investments. Now it isnt a perfect world with perfect solutions, but certainly much can be done.

We offer ethically screened portfolios for those that want them and for those with assets under £100,000 we offer a low cost service with ethical options too – just have a look at our 100 Club, if you are looking for an ethical ISA or General Investment Account… and no need to even speak to us if you dont wish to. Click here for more.

Of course if you wish to discuss this in more detail, just send me an email or better still, pick up the phone!

Call me on 020 8542 8084

As you probably gather from this blog, I like movies and see a fair few of them. This short fairytale is perhaps one of the strangest I have seen in a while, but its the one that Good Money Week are using… so in the spirit of co-operation, here it is.

Dominic Thomas
Solomons IFA

You can read more articles about Pensions, Wealth Management, Retirement, Investments, Financial Planning and Estate Planning on my blog which gets updated every week. If you would like to talk to me about your personal wealth planning and how we can make you stay wealthier for longer then please get in touch by calling 08000 736 273 or email info@solomonsifa.co.uk

Good Money Week 20162017-01-06T14:39:12+00:00

Investing: Ecclesiastical name change

Ecclesiastical name change

Today is a new day for Ecclesiastical, who have changed their name to EdenTree. Those of you that have a requirement for ethical investment will appreciate that we have used some of the Ecclesiastical funds. This remains their speciality as they manage about £2.4bn. They say of themselves:

“EdenTree is an investment management firm with a strong heritage of delivering profit with principles. We provide an award-winning fund range managed responsibly by some of the UK’s most highly rated Fund Managers. Our investment team has some of the longest continuous track records of any in the City. We believe that consistent, long-term returns are more likely to be achieved by investing responsibly in sustainable businesses. That’s why we adhere to our profit with principles approach. We firmly believe that the companies still returning results tomorrow will be the ones acting responsibly today, both internally and within their communities.”

Sustainable, SRI and ethical investment

Many of our clients have a requirement for ethically screened investments. There are all sorts of issues with ethical investing, but it has been a growing aspect of mainstream investment for many years. A key difficulty is the depth of any screening or any inclusion in the list of companies that can be held within a fund. This requires some careful thought and discussion about what is really important to you.

Dominic Thomas
Solomons IFA

You can read more articles about Pensions, Wealth Management, Retirement, Investments, Financial Planning and Estate Planning on my blog which gets updated every week. If you would like to talk to me about your personal wealth planning and how we can make you stay wealthier for longer then please get in touch by calling 08000 736 273 or email info@solomonsifa.co.uk

Investing: Ecclesiastical name change2017-01-06T14:39:27+00:00

The Lone Ranger

Many of you will remember the television series “The Lone Ranger” which was made from 1949-1957 starring Clayton Moore and Jay Silverheels. I remember watching the re-runs during school holidays. Well, Disney have now brought the story to the big screen and its rather long, but very watchable.

In essence, the story is set at the end of the 1860’s Wild West, when the railroads were being built across America. Set in the context of a new nation (the American civil war ended in 1865) but one where native Indians had been displaced by force and a variety of “Treaties” which were largely legitimising the land grab of the growing white population. The history as we have come to know, is like most, rather bewildering in the context of 2013. The film has not been warmly welcomed in the US, perhaps due to some historical inaccuracies (but its a story!) but probably due to the discomfort that stirs.

Step up small town, educated John Reid, lawman who believes in justice, not vengeance who is of course tested in his belief  and thrown together with a tribe-less Comanche Indian. The plot isn’t complex – the usual face of respectability covering a menacing, corrupt heart of greed.

There’s a bit of John Reid in most of us. Hoping and seeking integrity, justice and fairness. Reluctant to use force, but aware of our human desire for “getting even”. Let me say this clearly. The stockmarket is no place for the lone ranger. Expecting companies to behave well and be fair is sadly only going to lead to a lot of disappointment. The ethics of trade are not easy to pin down – what is “fair” is not easy to define in a world where we all have very different resources. Its also inescapable – the markets are full of “good” and “bad” companies and of course often they are both and as complex as we are as individuals. There are many parallels today with 1860’s north America, substitute railways for domination or rather monopolization of any market and you get a sense of what I mean.

So, whilst this is not a plug for ethical investment (or socially responsible investing) it is a reminder that investing does carry some uncomfortable truths. We may disagree (thankfully!) on what is right or wrong in many instances. As a financial planner, my job is not to dig as much gold (or silver) as I can, but to ask you what life you want to live and point to the resources you have and how to grow these so that you have enough to sustain you… enough even to share. I attach no value judgement to lifestyle choices, but draw attention to the consequences of actions or inactions. I don’t possess abnormal heroic traits, the mystical powers of a shamen or an ability to rescue every situation, and I cannot predict the future. I highlight possible risks and potential solutions, seeking a “tolerable forbearance”. I have learned not to blow up bridges but to be wary of powerful large corporations. I’m signed up to the lawbook, but aware of its many inadequacies, and yes I would be able to suggest a few changes. Whilst being different, like Tonto and Reid, I work in partnership with clients (we are not the same) so experience occasional elements of “lost in translation” that needs revisiting. In other words, I believe that the value of financial planning is in partnering with you to help you chose the path you wish to travel and keeping you covered…and yes, I do value my independence (as will you).

Dominic Thomas: Solomons IFA

The Lone Ranger2017-01-06T14:39:47+00:00

What Is Impact Investing?

Many of the clients that I work with and the people I meet see money as a tool. I haven’t yet met anyone that really seems to think that the object of the exercise is to get as much as possible. How much is enough? is of course a very provocative question and is in reality one that needs the context of a person’s life. Charitable giving is an option many follow and increasingly there is an awareness and use of ethical or socially responsible investment. However, these have limitations. Social Impact investing offers another option. One that we can help clients consider carefully. It is not without its problems and risk (what investment isn’t?) but it is very much on our radar and on the rise as a form of financial planning. Here is a little video by Worthstone, a leading Impact Investment organisation headed by Gavin Francis. Do take a look.

 

What Is Impact Investing?2017-01-06T14:39:50+00:00
Go to Top