Many of us are trying to do our bit to help the planet – and one way which can have a big impact is to take a closer look at our pensions and investments.
Even those with significant wealth haven’t necessarily considered the power of their retirement funds to do good for the environment – despite us generally being more eco-conscious these days.
Wealth manager and private bank Coutts surveyed people with assets over £1 million – and found 64% have recycled more household items, and 60% have actively reduced the amount of single-use plastic in their homes in the past five years. But just one in six (15%) have made changes to their investments to make them more sustainable.
Leslie Gent, head of responsible investing at Coutts, says: “We know from speaking to our clients that they want to do their best for the planet and are making huge and often time-consuming changes to their lives.”
Other ethical considerations can be part of the picture too – you might want to take a look at the values and causes the companies your money is going into is getting behind.
“We’re urging people to have a simple conversation with those who look after their money, starting with their pension provider, about the impacts their investments can and do have,” says Gent.
Keen to ensure you are investing with a ‘responsible’ pension provider? Gent suggests asking the following eight questions…
1. What matters to you personally?
Do you care about climate change, gender diversity, or human rights, for example? This will help guide what you are looking for in a pension provider.
2. What companies are your pension invested in?
The fund factsheet can help you understand what kind of companies the fund invests in. These are often big, public companies so there should be information on how they are performing on ESG (environmental, social, and governance criteria).
3. How does the fund select companies that have a positive impact on people and the planet?
Do they invest in certain themes, for example renewable energy?
4. Are there any activities they don’t invest in?
Depending on your own preferences, Gent suggests you could ask about what exclusions may be in place.
5. How is the fund manager or pension provider using influence for good?
Gent says there might be work going on, for example, to improve their diversity, climate targets or to reduce their plastic packaging – changes that can have a big impact.
6. What kind of public commitments have they made as a pension provider/fund manager?
For example, have they committed to net zero investments?
7. What information does the pension provider give you that can help you better understand the positive impact your investments are making?
You could, for example, look for the percentage of your money invested in renewable energy, clean water, or social causes such as education.
8. Are they a member of any networks or initiatives?
Pension providers that work with others in the industry can help accelerate progress – which means your pension is having an even bigger impact.
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