Holly's Blog: Welcome to Wonderland


Welcome to Wonderland

This week we’re having a little dive into Wonderland. First we fall through the August data – pretty glum. Growth was slower than forecast and we’re still about 10% of pre-pandemic levels. But even despite the slow-coach data, the FTSE100 once again refused to stick to the script, and this morning stuck two fingers up at this and opened higher. “Curiouser and curiouser”, thought Alice.

Judging risk at the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party

Our journey continues to Westminster, packed full of Queens of Hearts and Mad Hatters making daily decisions about risk. In fact 2020 has been an evolving and constant process for all of us in balancing physical, mental and financial risks with limited certain inputs to our equations. From an investment perspective it remains hard to know what lies ahead.

People are feeling financially nervous. One manifestation of this is the Savings Ratio which is at frankly weird highs. It’s about 29% at the moment – which loosely means we’re saving 29p out of every £ we earn. Normally, it trundles along at levels of nearer 7p to 12p for every £. People are anxious and metaphorically stockpiling cash under the bed.

We check in with 1,500 investors every three months – and last week you echoed these nerves. Over 6 in 10 think that the UK economy will get worse over the next 6 months (it was half of you 6 months ago) and 2 in 10 think it will stay broadly the same. And 4 in 10 think that the FTSE will fall over the next 6 months – 3 in 10 think it will stay the same. Confidence abut both the broader economy and the stock market has fallen.

A moment of calm?

Against this backdrop of nerves, one area I expect to see change and growth is in those products which offer more cash-like, lower-risk sustainable products.

I’ve been having a look at Triodos – a sustainable bank which offers so-called Impact Investments and has a new bond fund coming up for imminent launch. What I find quite interesting about this group is that they have common standards across every product – and it feels as though their proof points are clearer than many. For example their pledge is that they will not invest in anything which makes money from weapons or nuclear, or more than 5% of revenues from tobacco, gambling, petrol, oil, gas, coal, unsustainable cotton, fur or leather, fishery products and/or beef that does not comply with international standards. That’s refreshingly clear really. And you could argue that most of us don’t really need to know much more than that?

I am very conscious that I have written quite a lot about sustainable investing recently. Social media is always full of financial advisers who want to tell me what a wally I am. Sometimes they are of course right and they help me to learn and improve. And a minority of them are miserable old so-and-sos who can’t bear anyone doing anything without them. IMHO. There’s still a large cohort who think I have fallen for the ‘latest fad’. But our broader data sets suggest that people are indeed much more interested in investing sustainably than advisers think.

Please take a second to share your view on our unedited comment board. (Well – we do take out words that rhyme with ‘duck’. ) Do you get irritated when I talk about sustainable investing? Is it just common sense? Is it fundamentally important or crashingly boring?

The White Banky Rabbit (not to be said at speed after wine – try it!)

The next leg of our journey takes us back to the High Street (whatever that means anymore) and I’m casting the banks as the White Rabbit– “I’m late, I’m late.” Despite their huge audiences, the banks have been late to the online investing party, failing to convert their cash savers into investors. And not really having much success in tabling a frank discussion about risk with those who see investing “like gambling”.

Barclays, HSBC, NatWest and Santander have led the charge on developing investment solutions for their customers, developing simpler ‘ready-made’ solutions for those who don’t want the responsibility of too much choice and want someone to do it for them. And they’ve been getting better. Most of them will now offer digital advice – they will help diagnose the best choices for you, based on some simple questions which you can answer online.

NatWest made headlines this week by cutting their costs on DIY stocks and shares ISAs quite aggressively. From just over 1% to just over 0.7% - that’s for all admin and investments. For that you get a pretty limited choice but you do get a relatively low-cost stocks and shares ISA, you can see this along with your current account, and they put it together and monitor it for you. I’m not sure that this is a battle which will be won on price – but it will be interesting to see how the other banks respond? Will they spring into competitive action? Or make like The Dormouse?

I opened a test account with Santander last year. I’d actually recommend the onboarding journey for anyone less confident and interested to explore or learn more about what their attitude to investment risk is– and what their tolerance and capacity for loss is. For a fixed fee of £20 you get a suitability report and will gain a good understanding of the right questions to be asking – and how to map investment products to your personal situation. Whether or not you then go on to open an account with them or not. (Existing customers only).

Have a great weekend everyone. Time to hit the jam tarts and the hookah!?




Do you get irritated when I talk about sustainable investing? Is it just common sense? Is it fundamentally important or crashingly boring?

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Which type of Sustainable Saver are you?

Which Sustainable Saver are you?


Holly's Blog: Which sustainable tribe are YOU in?

This week we launched The Great British Sustainable Savers Census. 6,000 people. 6 types of Sustainable Saver.

Which sustainable tribe are YOU in?

Sustainable investing is...

Fundamentally important

Common sense

A passing fad

Crashingly boring

These answers help us understand what the nation thinks and how we can help

From 62 responses


Jane Ripley
I have always felt it is important to invest ethically, I understood from boycotts of products back in the 80s how consumer power could hit a company hard. Aside from the actual ethics, at this time more than ever it makes financial sense to be invested in companies who aren't going to be shunned by the public over their poor labour policies, or facing huge legislative bills and fines for non compliance with environmental laws.
14/10/2020 09:03:51
1 0
Patrick Kirk
You are right to 'go on' about sustainable investing, and long may you continue to do so. It is not a fad but a responsibility -- investment in the right sectors will drive innovation and help mitigate the worst effects of the changing climate, whereas business-as-usual will lead to ongoing crises that will (incidentally) devalue many traditional investments. The markets are finally waking up to this. I'm a small-time investor with some meagre savings (who finds your blog really helpful), but I know one or two people in the finance sector, including people who have spent their careers specialising in energy, who disagreed with me years ago about the threat of global warming. They are now rapidly transitioning away from fossil fuels and investing enthusiastically in alternative energy. Just because the prospect of doing things differently will be inconvenient and involve some difficult choices, it doesn't mean we don't have to make them. Getting annoyed with the direction of travel because we don't want to change, or feel repressed guilt about the contribution we've made to the situation, is pointless. So, more sustainable investing advice please!
13/10/2020 09:24:23
2 0
Gordon McEwen
Sustainable Investing? Hey, I look at your website because I'm very much small-time and what I can invest won't make much difference when compared to the millions invested by the wealthy who won't be looking at your website but will have people doing the investing for them, or will be using financial advisors. I maybe wrongly assumed that 'Boring Money' was to impartially provide help and ideas/advice (yes, I know it isn't real hold-you-to-it advice) and not to get preachy about sustainable investing.
10/10/2020 20:45:29
0 4
Ken Whitehouse
It is going to be a slow burn but what,s wrong in trying to reduce the damage we do .There will be good profitable firms with long term stability through built on a sound value base which enhances their success . Main problem as a small investor is finding them at the right time amongst the usual sources which dominate.A source needed with the interest and instincts and ability to speak a language a small investor can make sense of
10/10/2020 19:15:51
1 0
You have mentioned sustainability quite a few times and with government and business targets I decided it makes sense to invest in this for potential good returns and not just good for the planet reasons. So I’ve followed one of your suggestions and it is doing very well at the moment and better than some of my other traditional investments so I’m happy.
10/10/2020 15:59:06
2 0
Unhelpfully I think I sit right in the middle of this debate! I am primarily interested in long term ROI - ie investing in businesses that will grow (profitably) over the next 10 - 20 years. Increasingly those are businesses that take a sensible approach to all things ESG. So I am wary of too much tub-thumping about it all being about sustainability etc, but I would not invest in a business or a collective investment that was not seriously factoring in the changes needed to position itself optimally in light of changes in the environment.
10/10/2020 15:45:17
4 0
NO! I do not get irritated when you talk about sustaianble investing. It's your 'editorial' and you should write about whatever you feel is important or current or worth mentioning.
10/10/2020 15:31:15
1 0
Just letting you know that I have appreciated the wider spread of content on sustainable investing. Why shouldn’t this subject get as much air time as highly profitable investment products especially if younger audience segments or those who wish to invest responsibly show increasing tendency towards sustainability. Good on you, Holly and keep up the good work!
09/10/2020 22:34:20
6 0
Previous comments are correct. Its plain common sense that society will need to change in a more sustainable way. The markets know this and investors will rush in to these markets and make (let's call them) sustainable returns
09/10/2020 21:53:27
1 0
Geoffrey Dickson
I also think you go on about sustainable investing, and so you should. Anyone with kids or grand kids should shout about it and encourage everyone else to consider making even a small percentage of a portfolio over to socially responsible investing, it is the future. Geoff.
09/10/2020 20:00:34
4 0
Chris A
Holly, ESG investing is worthwhile as it underlines common sense, 'the right thing to do', and is becoming mainstream with more investors profiting too. It is nothing really new under the sun as good companies try to benefit society, their local area, their employees, the world - and of course their owners (shareholders). The good companies are well managed and very good ones always seem to have little (or no) debt. Family companies like Sainsburys and John Lewis fall into the good environmentally friendly list easily too. Long ago I began to appreciate excellent companies who always have acted very responsibly in an ESG current 'fashion' as part of their makeup and basic ethos. I offer the following companies as illustrations and examples of continued good behavior over many years:- Halma, Next, Judges Scientific, XP Power, M&S, Croda, Cranswick, Dechra Pharmaceuticals, Fevertree, Hotel Chocolat, London Stock Exchange, Marstons, Johnson Matthey, Legal & General, Mondi, National Express, SSE, Spirax Sarco, Tate & Lyle, Zotefoams, Whitbread, and many more, even a modelling/handicraft company like Games Workshop deserves a mention. Chris
09/10/2020 17:44:02
1 0
do keep talking about ESG, that's why I subscribe to your material.
09/10/2020 15:17:00
3 0
Ross Banerjee
Hi Holly, I love your no nonsense blog and research articles on investing and broker value for money. I am 70+ and a DIY investor. Having retired from MD's role in large plc, I took charge of my income drawdown SIPP. I use Hargreaves Lansdowne for ISAs and research for my Funds for my SIPP portfolio. HL is good. I manage my SIPP & ISA on a daily basis. My portfolio consists of Baillie Gifford American/ Global, AXA Global Tech, L&G US & Global, Fundsmith and one sustainable fund, Liontrust SF European Growth. Overall increase in my fund's growth is 25% plus. My strategy is to keep checking on my fund's price going up or down, sell/ switch at a profit, going for growth, and not get too hung up about saving the planet by going all things sustainable. Keep up sharing your good investing ideas. Don't forget Gin O' Clock Friday. Regards Ross
09/10/2020 14:58:14
1 0
I like and pleased you are supporting Triodos Bank who support Garden Organic who promote sensible, sustainable, waste reducing vegetable growing and gardening. Investors should vote with their feet and make their views clear to the organisations they invest in. Happy with the balance and to be a shareholder.
09/10/2020 14:22:26
3 0
Please keep talking about sustainable investing! I've been directly investing in them for many years and the bulk of my savings are invested in them. Apart from being the "right thing to do", sustainable investing is the future. If we're serious about not killing our planet (as well as perking up our pension pots) then it's the way to go. The more people that make this choice, the more funds will be invested in really does turn the heads of those who are ONLY interested in profit. Seriously, who still wants to invest in stinky old oil and fags?
09/10/2020 14:19:22
1 0
I am a West midlands based 57y man, still working, earning a wage that is probably below the average down south. I feel I have been supporting the London based financial services industry all my life with my megre pension contributions diluted by high charges and mediocre funds. Now you lot want me to invest my small pension into fluffy eco based things when the world still runs on diesel - give me a break. I want the high returns all the city spivs have had all these years. I haven't got many years left to save. Rich.
09/10/2020 13:23:39
2 2
Rachel Efetha
Hi Holly I think you're doing a dis-service to IFA's in your article. I've been an Adviser for 20 years and I'm a massive advocate of sustainable investing, both for those who've expressed an interest in SRI and those who haven't, as the performance of fund ranges like Liontrust Sustainable Future and Royal London Sustainable speak for themselves. I've also been instrumental in turning the rest of my firm round to my way of thinking as well.
09/10/2020 13:00:14
4 0
I do think you bang on a bit much about sustainable investment, yes, because it seems to me that it misses a few fundamental points. Markets tend to be very good at investing in what is worth it. You don’t need to avoid the oil industry: oil itself becomes less important as other methods of providing energy become more developed. Let the market decide. A second point is that, if we take oil, few people under what it used for. Yes, it provides energy or fuel, but it’s also where pretty much all our plastics come from. We are not yet ready to do without plastics, so don’t imagine we can do without oil. A third use of oil is for detergents and cleaning products. Ready to do without those yet? I guess what I am saying is that 1. A perfect market is very good at deciding what to invest in; its governments that tend to introduce incentives and distortions. Secondly, the most important response to what looks like a straightforward question is, ‘I think you will find it’s a bit more complicated than that.’
09/10/2020 12:57:00
1 1

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