Site Logo
Site Logo

Holly's Blog: Covid, crypto and Operation GTAG

11 June, 2021

The UK Govt has set up a ‘greenwashing’ taskforce to make sure that financial services firms do not self-anoint as the Saints of Sustainability without solid evidence to do so.

Oh Dear. This week the Great Dispenser of Poo in the Firmament woke from a temporary sleep to recommence 2021’s assault. One of the kids caught Covid (poor thing is pretty unwell but will be fine, thanks) and the other is home schooling again. And we’re isolating.

This morning was the familiar scene from last year’s lockdowns, but with coughing, paracetamol and Zinc tablets added to the mix. The kitchen looks like a bomb has exploded. There are piles of washing mounting up. The fridge is being raided every hour. And I have been forced to confront my lack of knowledge about unicellular organisms and modal verbs. All before 8.30am. Yippeeeee.

In other news...

Bitcoin is on the up again – but it’s still ‘only’ worth £26,000 compared to last month’s £42,000. US consumer prices have shot up (hello inflation). And the UK Govt has set up a ‘greenwashing’ taskforce to make sure that financial services firms do not self-anoint as the Saints of Sustainability without solid evidence to do so.

Crypto has had another yo-yo week …

…as El Salvador makes bitcoin legal tender. Those pioneering leaders in Iran are planning a legal framework for crypto (but not homosexuality or sex outside marriage). And State Street, the second oldest bank in the US, has announced plans for a platform which will support crypto trading. We know many of you are interested in this dangerous yet alluring asset, and so we are planning a webinar to get to grips-to with crypto – register your interest here ( if you would like to join in.

And Operation GTAG tackles the climate villains

With the catchy title of GTAG, the newly set-up Green Technical Advisory Group will work to set out some common definitions and criteria for products which label themselves as ‘sustainable’ or ‘low carbon’.

As much as people in financial services love the word taxonomy, I’m afraid my gut reaction when I hear this is to roll my eyes. Trying to get consensus on how things are classified and defined from a wide group of fund managers is like expecting a group of English and French fisherman to agree on who owns Le Poisson. And so, we spend quite literally years worrying about semantics and words, instead of getting on with actions and impact and output.

I’m also slightly turned off by how much fund managers love to spend hours talking about how their competitors are vile and filthy green washers, instead of looking inwards and spending their efforts on getting their own house in order. It’s always easier to talk loudly about what everyone else is doing wrong, than it is to tackle our own inadequacies.

From all the conversations we have with investors, we think it would be most productive to focus more on the evidence and the proof points. People aren’t stupid. The first thing that GTAG should do is to ask investors what they care about and what they want to see. And then suggest a one-page summary framework of how this might be disclosed in a clear and consistent way. Imagine if the finance industry started with what people want and care about and then made products to fit – instead of working out what to make and then telling people what they can have.

All our research suggests that people want to see the specific list of companies held in the fund (not just the top 10), proof points on positive impact and all/any exclusions e.g. fossil fuel or tobacco. Maybe our readers could help us knock up a template to send to the GTAG, and shape the output rather than having it done to us?

If you’re interested in the latest fund specific research we have, for your own portfolio, take a look at these pages ( We worked with research giant Morningstar to showcase the best available retail funds for varying consumer preferences – from green, to more broadly sustainable to pure returns only - based on what lies under the bennet rather than on what the fund is called or how it’s positioned. I hope these are useful food for thought.

Back to unicellular organisms…..

And so think of me at 5:59pm tonight as, feeling like a rather dejected Paramecium, I will almost certainly be using my flagellum to sweep some sauvignon blanc towards my oral groove :0(

A final shoutout to any women aged 40 -70 who would like to join our fist ever webinar ( on 23rd June – with moi, financial adviser Helena Wardle and UK shares expert and fund manager Louise Kernohan. We have an hour to chew the fat, tackle your questions, give you some relevant ideas and tips and hopefully have some fun along the way. Join the 630 women who have already registered. MEGA!! Thanks for your interest, will try my best to make it good. Thanks to BNY Mellon for supporting this.

Have a good weekend everyone.