Hannah Gilbert is publisher of Carefully Curated, a blog about design-led products with ethical & environmental provenance, as well as wider issues of sustainability, alternative business models and responsible investment. She’s former lead strategist at Trillion Fund, a crowdfunding platform, and is campaigning for responsible pensions. As part of our new “Little Star” series, Hannah, who lives in London with her husband and two children, explains how she tries to make her money do more good.
How would you rate your own personal finances for goodness, on a scale of 1 to 10? Why?
Overall, I would give my personal finances a 7 out of ten for responsibility. The bulk of my (and my daughters’) ISA savings are invested in responsible or ethical funds via Hargreaves Lansdown. It is not an exact science, as the environmental, social and governance performance of these funds is difficult to compare with one another, and with other ‘mainstream’ funds.
I am an Aegon pension saver and together with other Aegon savers, with the support of ShareAction, we are trying to engage with Aegon to see whether our pension savings are funding a future fit for us all.
My pension savings are, by their very nature, locked away for the long-term, and it is over this time horizon that the negative impact of unsustainable business practices will become evident, and costly. It can be difficult to see how the savings choices I make today are shaping the future. Together with other Aegon savers, we hope we can have a dialogue with Aegon about how our savings are managed for the future.
I also have a pool of money that I inherited from my father that is managed by Rathbone Greenbank Investments. I moved my money from another asset manager frustrated that they had not even signed up to the UN PRI. While it is possible to screen out ‘negative’ stocks, the fund managers at Rathbone Greenbank also actively engage with funds and companies on behalf of investors to pursue responsible investment goals such as modern slavery or the transition to a low-carbon economy.
I have made a number of small investments via crowdfunding platforms directly into companies that combine product with purpose. These investments are high risk and illiquid, but I am passionate about my money directly supporting the growth of small businesses.
What bit of your finances would you most like to change for the better?
My knowledge gap is around what money deposited in my current account and savings account with Lloyds Bank is funding.
Which provider are you most impressed by? Why?
Rathbone Greenbank Investments, because of their considered approach to a range of responsible investment issues, tailored to their clients interests, using a combination of research, stewardship and engagement. Their recent work on modern slavery is a good example of a concerted approach to a complex issue.
Which provider would you like to see hoisted by their own petard? Why?
It is degrees of “must try harder” across the industry. For example, the recent report from Proxy Insight found that four of the world’s largest fund companies voted in favour of executive pay reporting at UK and US companies on at least 95 per cent of occasions from July 2014 to June 2015. Many asset managers are not doing enough to rein in excessive pay.
Do you think you have lost out financially by making sustainable choices?
I am investing for the long term so it is difficult to say, however, I am comfortable with the performance so far. There is increasing evidence to support the view that sustainable choices are sound financial choices.
What personal finance headline would you most like to read in the next year, and why?
“Hargreaves Lansdown to publish ESG scores for all funds on its platform in response to customer feedback.”