The responsible finance site launched the Good Egg in May last year to make it easier for people to find financial providers that offer a good deal for their pockets, as well as for people and planet.
Downing Crowd offers investors the ability to lend directly to UK businesses via bonds secured on those businesses’ assets. The platform launched in March 2016 and since then has raised more than £44 million to support the growth of smaller UK businesses across some 20 different investment bonds.
It offers a tax-free Innovative Finance ISA (IFISA), which allows investors to use their £20,000 ISA allowance to invest in the bonds. Its portfolio includes primarily renewable energy businesses (solar, wind, anaerobic digestion and hydro), as well as pubs, a data centre and a care home. It is also exploring investments in energy storage and reserve power.
Rebecca O’Connor, co-founder and editor of Good With Money, said: “A Good Egg is a mark that can only be used by companies like Downing Crowd that are able to prove they make a positive impact, not just by making things easier for their customers, but challenging the status quo, while benefiting society and the environment, too.
“Look for a Good Egg if you want to have an investment product, savings account, insurance policy, or mortgage from companies that do the right thing.”
Julia Groves, head of crowdfunding at Downing Crowd, said: “We’re delighted to be part of such a well-regarded and growing collection of ‘good egg’ financial brands, and we’re proud to be able to add this mark to our platform.
“Downing crowd bonds are making real inroads into the mainstream through the IFISA – which is heartening after lobbying so hard in 2016 for their introduction. Crowdfunding is not only about securing a return on one’s investment – we want to enact positive change through providing transparent investments and in making alternative finance more accessible, so that everyday investors can access the same investment opportunities as high-net-worth individuals, which is why we keep our minimum investment amount at £100.
“The fact we now have a Good Egg will add a further layer of transparency to our proposition.”
The Good Egg advisory panelists commended Downing Crowd for its positive impact, citing its environmental credentials as particularly strong.
Panelist and former Move Your Money project manager Fionn Travers Smith said: “Downing Crowd has a strong investment record and metrics, and has an increasingly diversified portfolio across a number of social assets, enhancing its holistic social impact.”
The panelists provide a further level of rigour following a Good Egg company’s rating by Good With Money’s research partner, Ethical Screening. As well as Travers Smith, the Good Egg advisory panel includes Anna Laycock, executive director of the Finance Innovation Lab, John Fleetwood, managing director of 3D Investing, and Michael Fotis, founder of Smart Money People.
The case for a mark
Good With Money worked with the UK Sustainable Investment and Finance Association (UKSIF) to develop the Good Egg mark, following research which revealed 63 per cent of UK consumers wanted a label to identify ethical or sustainable financial products, and 43 per cent said it would make them more likely to buy a financial product, rising to 53 per cent of 18-24 yr olds. Additionally, 60 per cent of UK consumers believe the financial sector can make high returns while investing responsibly.
In further research conducted by Opinium for Good With Money++, 36 per cent of people said that they would be likely to choose a financial provider holding the Good Egg kitemark. 25 per cent of those surveyed thought the kitemark demonstrated that the provider holding would be ‘a responsible company’, 24 per cent thought it would be ‘a company I can trust,’ and 22 per cent thought it would be ‘a fair company.’