Environmental, social and governance (ESG) considerations within investing has become a priority for many in recent years, most notably within women. A study by Fidelity found 74% of women want to increase their ESG investments within their existing portfolios.
Speaking at the third edition of our Advising Female Clients webinar series on ESG investing, Gemma Woodward, Director of Responsible Investing, highlights how public momentum is driving these ethical considerations. Previously, the likes of Extinction Rebellion, David Attenborough and Greta Thunberg have made a significant portion of the world’s population wary of the potential harm they are doing to the environment. Now, as a result of the pandemic, we are becoming even more conscious of the social impact as well.
To ensure all employees are being treated fairly and appropriately, there has been an increased effort to make sure social distancing measures are being implemented in the workplace, employees have been appropriately put on furlough, and questioning whether board members have received additional bonuses or pay rises.
It’s not just public momentum that is driving this shift to sustainable and ethical investing, according to Gemma Woodward. Regulatory changes are also adding pressure on companies to improve their environmental and social impact. A recently implemented policy, named Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation (SFDR), now means asset managers and market participants are required to disclose their ESG obligations to offer better transparency.
From Quilter Cheviot’s perspective, engagement with companies is critical to ensure change is being made. Notably, oil and gas companies which can often be excluded from ESG-labelled funds, can at times not receive any pressure from shareholders to adjust to more sustainable business strategies. Instead, at Quilter Cheviot, we utilise this responsibility and hold companies accountable for their actions.
A poll was conducted during the presentation asking the viewers whether they believe investment in fossil fuel companies that have clear climate transition plans and are developing their renewables exposure is a good thing. Results showed that over 92% of 76 responses said ‘yes’, supporting the objective of investing in companies and ensuring they adjust their business to a more sustainable strategy.
Source: Quilter Cheviot
Also speaking on the webinar was guest speaker Mark Pinches, Head of Coaching at Westfield Health. Mark Pinches discusses how people’s relationship with the likes of investing and positive environmental efforts can impact their mental health and wellbeing.
One factor for our overall wellbeing includes economic wellbeing. Money plays a pivotal role in most major decisions we make such as where we can live and how we can provide for our families. Money problems can lead to unhappiness, although studies have found that the level of happiness does not increase any further for those on a salary beyond £55,000.
Mark explains one factor to removing any unhappiness associated with lack of money and financial pressures includes improving your financial literacy which can result in better money management. Financial education empowers individuals to make the right decisions about managing money and think more long-term.
If you would like to find out more on ESG investing and the importance of financial education on wellbeing, you can watch the webinar on demand which can be accessed by following the link above.
Investors should remember that the value of investments, and the income from them, can go down as well as up and that past performance is no guarantee of future returns. You may not recover what you invest.
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