Ahead of Good Money Week, we asked Anna Guyer, founder of Greenhouse PR, a company which celebrates and promotes sustainability in all sectors including financial services, how she keeps her own money good.
How would you rate your own personal finances for goodness, on a scale of 1 to 10? Why?
I am very excited by the positive choices that I have made on my personal finances and the fact that I only invest in funds or initiatives with positive social and environmental impact. In fact, I am so excited that I would give them 8 out of 10. I really love to share my story to encourage others to think about the conscious use of money and the potential to invest actively to support your values.
I was never interested in the stockmarket per se, I thought that it was a way of betting and making money without any sense of real value or return.
When I met with an ethical financial advisor everything changed. It opened my mind to the fact that I could invest my money to finance or support the issues that I care about – which I can positively impact through the use of my money while still making a good return on my investment. A win/win. A total no brainer.
So now I have two ISAs and a SIPP pension which is totally invested to help drive social and environmental change. I choose to invest in sustainable pioneers, renewable energy, energy efficiency, water and timber (resources that are under pressure), as well as brands that I admire – like Ecotricity Bond, River Cottage Bond and Good Energy shares.
What bit of your finances would you most like to change for the better?
As a business, we bank with Triodos Bank. I love Triodos as the bank is totally committed to social and environmental change – which matches our values as a business too.
But I am embarrassed to say that I have not been able to find a bank for my personal finances. I am still a customer of Lloyds Bank. Not something I am proud of.
I have applied for Co-Op bank account several times and been rejected. I have never got to the bottom of why. I have been lazy in not switching. Now I am going to wait for the launch of the Triodos current account in 2017.
Which provider are you most impressed by? Why?
I am really impressed with WHEB Asset Management and by Triodos Bank. Both are pioneers and are totally focused on positive sustainable investment and totally committed to transparency which really helps you to see and appreciate the impact that your money has as a result of your investments.
WHEB is doing really well. It has an amazing impact report, the first of its kind, and it invests in themes that are positive and sustainability focused.
I like Triodos Bank because it is totally aligned to my own values and mission. I like the Triodos Sustainable Pioneers Fund because it goes to the trouble of researching the world’s pioneers for you and then you can invest with as much as a 12% return on investment. I trust Triodos to help select the very best pioneers.
Which provider would you like to see hoisted by their own petard? Why?
I am not a big fan of Lloyds. My husband has decided to invest in Lloyds as they rebuild the banking network. And I feel really uncomfortable about it. I also think RBS behaved appallingly. I cannot believe that we had a banking crisis and yet there has been so little repercussion for bad behaviour.
Do you think you have lost out financially by making sustainable choices?
Not at all, by working with a specialist financial advisor, John Ditchfield, at Castlefield Investment Partners, I genuinely believe that I am not only better off financial with really healthy financial returns (over 12% annually). But without him I would never have invested in a pension, and I have also started a SIPP pension. I love the fact that I make contributions, they are tax free, they help drive the movement towards a low carbon economy, and one day I will be able to hand over my pension to my children.
What personal finance headline would you most like to read in the next year, and why?
“The Government offers auto-enrolment options on sustainable and ethical pensions.” This year, billions were invested in auto-enrolment pensions – just imagine what we could have achieved if even 10% of that went into investment in sustainable and ethical pensions. That would really drive the transformation towards a low carbon economy helping us to meet our climate change targets and making positive social and environmental change. In 2016 alone, half a million small employers must select a provider for their staff. It is estimated that by 2018, the number of UK pension savers in an auto-enrolment scheme will have grown by 9 million.
Just imagine the progress we could make if every bank and financial provider offered a social and responsible investment fund or ISA. It would be awesome.