Michael, 51

A Publishing Consultant from Peckham

Working in fashion, Michael has a healthy dose of scepticism towards his industry’s sustainability. He’s seen 14-year-olds working in factories and the effects of corrupt officials, so Michael knows exactly how important it is to invest without doing harm.


"It's good to know I'm thinking about the future. But I don't have a lot of interest in managing money."


I know investing is important… but it’s not interesting

“From my mid-20s I knew I needed to do something for the future, to secure it. I’ve always kind of been freelance so the future has always been a concern for me, as you never know where your next job will come from. I don’t have the security my partner has of working at Harrods for 20-odd years. So for me it’s always been about balance.

“It’s not that I’ve ever been scared of pensions, investments, mortgages… but I don’t get a lot of interest in managing it. I know the interest rates are so low now that there’s almost no point in cash, but I never understood stocks and shares. I always envied friends of mine who were good with numbers. I’m a bit dyslexic with numbers. But there's an advisor chap I always dealt with when I started in publishing and now he looks after my investments” 

I know sustainability is important… but it’s tricky to pin down

“With the whole sustainable fashion thing, the production side, I think it’s quite difficult. Producers tend to move to avoid regulations. There was a lot of production in Europe and then regulations came in so they moved further afield – Morocco, Turkey, China. And everybody likes to say they want to be ethical, but the problem is that in developed countries everyone’s used to getting what they want when they want it, and being able to find things for a reduced price. So for me, investing in the fashion side is difficult because I know how the big boys play!

“Plus, in developing countries they’re entitled to a slice of the pie too. If we stop buying from them they can’t put their kids through school, they can’t feed them. We have people saying ‘oh we should ban it’ but they don’t think of the consequences. Everybody has a right to earn a living.

“I’ve been to the factories and I’ve seen the 14-year-old kids working. But if they weren’t working they would be begging on the street. We have to be realistic. We aren’t all going to be Richard Branson. We all fit into this jigsaw so it’s all about being fair and that’s what we need to look at. The moment you’re fair, that is when you can achieve something.”


I know blacklisting is important… but it’s not the only way

“I think we have to be realistic about this. If certain companies have had a long history of destroying the planet and they are changing their tune, that’s a good thing surely. Because they’re listening. They’re aware of what’s happening.

“It’s the same as being vegan. It’s not solving the problem. Because what’s happening is that in South America they’re still destroying land because of quinoa. So sustainably doesn’t just mean switching one thing for another – it’s all about balance. We’ve had a massive population increase in the last 20 to 30 years and that’s what needs to be addressed. It’s not about just eating no meat – it’s finding a suitable alternative.”


Help me pick an investment fund

If, like Michael, you think it's important to help companies change for the better instead of just blacklisting them, the following option is worth reading up on. Or have a look at a bigger range with the ii ACE 30 'Considers' list, The Share Centre's 'Active Shareholder Engagement' list, or Morningstar's 'Good Governance' list on our Sustainable Savers home page. 

(We asked some of the leading names in sustainable investing to recommend a fund or two they like for our Sustainable Savers. This isn’t a personal recommendation and we’re not giving financial advice. Food for thought only, folks.)


Simon Bullock, Chartered Financial Planner and Partner at Mulberry Bow, suggests...

Dimensional Global Sustainability Funds

"This shouldn’t be viewed as advice, of course, but we think Dimensional Global Sustainability Funds are interesting. One focuses on listed equities, the other fixed interest.

"We like the fact that they are truly global and highly diversified in terms of underlying securities. Most investors interested in sustainable investment would probably consider them ‘light green’. And their role in a portfolio is likely to be more of a ‘core holding’ with more specific approaches (possibly including social impact and/or tighter exclusionary screening) as complementary ‘satellite’ holdings."

What's a 'light green' fund?

A few more fund suggestions

Sustainable Savers home

How are other investors having a positive impact?

Guide to ESG & Sustainable investing

• Quick start guide

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