All the winners from the first SIA impact investment awards

Investment consultancy Worthstone hosted its first ever awards for the best players in impact investing last week. See all the winners here.

Investment consultancy Worthstone hosted its first ever awards for the best players in impact investing. Worthstone director, Gavin Francis, chose to launch the awards, presented at the consultancy’s annual Social Investment Academy (SIA), to champion those pioneering a young market.

‘The objective is to value, celebrate and share best practice in the retail impact investment sector – we want to champion those leading the market with investment strategies aligning positive social and financial outcomes,’ he said.

‘Growth here is driven by early adopters and pioneers; their impact goes well beyond their own practice.’

He called this a progressive area of investing and said the awards are the first of their kind in the UK.

Elizabeth Corley, chair of the Implementation Taskforce for Impact Investment, presented the awards in London last week and had a message for advisers.

‘Learning about sustainable capital and the sustainable development goals is really interesting,’ she said. ‘When you go down the pub or when you are talking to your children, it actually resonates. You become a hero, not a villain of the financial crisis.

‘Not only is this relevant to your clients, I would encourage you to do it for family and friends and your own sense of enjoyment.’

Read on to find out who were the six winners at the inaugural SIA Impact Awards.

Investment consultancy Worthstone hosted its first ever awards for the best players in impact investing. Worthstone director, Gavin Francis, chose to launch the awards, presented at the consultancy’s annual Social Investment Academy (SIA), to champion those pioneering a young market.

‘The objective is to value, celebrate and share best practice in the retail impact investment sector – we want to champion those leading the market with investment strategies aligning positive social and financial outcomes,’ he said.

‘Growth here is driven by early adopters and pioneers; their impact goes well beyond their own practice.’

He called this a progressive area of investing and said the awards are the first of their kind in the UK.

Elizabeth Corley, chair of the Implementation Taskforce for Impact Investment, presented the awards in London last week and had a message for advisers.

‘Learning about sustainable capital and the sustainable development goals is really interesting,’ she said. ‘When you go down the pub or when you are talking to your children, it actually resonates. You become a hero, not a villain of the financial crisis.

‘Not only is this relevant to your clients, I would encourage you to do it for family and friends and your own sense of enjoyment.’

Read on to find out who were the six winners at the inaugural SIA Impact Awards.

Impact award for individual financial adviser: Darren Lloyd Thomas

‘It is nice to be recognised for going against the grain,’ said Darren Lloyd Thomas, managing director of Haverfordwest-based Thomas and Thomas Financial Services.

He explained his  journey into ethical investing and the barriers stopping others. He illustrated the point with an imaginary compliance officer called Ivan.

‘[Ivan] blocks the way for many IFAs when they consider going down the responsible investment route. They think: “if I go this way, my client will end up suing me because I have gone into something with big risk attached.”’

He said his own firm used to see ethical investing as commendable but ineffective and too risky. It now offers both bespoke and model portfolios for ethical clients.

Thomas had a warning for advisers thinking going ethical would earn them a quick buck: ‘I cannot tell you I have made lots of money out of this. We have moved around £13 million of client portfolios into ethical, all at no cost. Instead I have absorbed all the work costs involved.’

Impact award for advice firm: Ayres Punchard

The Isle of Wight-based firm offers ethical investment solutions to clients and carries out original research, including in-house controversy screening and supply chain management.

Talking to New Model Adviser®, Ayres Punchard director, Chris Welsford, railed against the stigma attached to sustainable investing, saying it is the only way forward.

‘I meet a lot of people in the City who still think all this is a bit of a joke but the evidence is incontrovertible: sustainability is going to be the biggest factor in returns going forward.

‘Sustainability is something we have to embrace because it has a place in the investment process. Without it, we are going to miss out on returns,’ he said. ‘Ethics has a degree of altruism involved. If you have a car, you don’t automatically mow everyone down on the pavement to get to the shop quicker. Your car itself is not necessarily a bad thing but the way you use it could well be a bad thing. Likewise, why would anyone consider doing so much damage to get returns?’ 

Impact award for discretionary fund manager: EQ Investors

‘We are delighted to have won and more so to see how the awards work. The judges know this area inside out,’ said Damien Lardoux, London-based EQ Investor’s head of impact investing.

‘We are at the beginning of two fantastic revolutions,’ he added. ‘In Al Gore’s words, sustainability is the biggest investment opportunity in history. And there is increased interest from clients to align their investments with their values. As a firm we believe our impact proposition is well placed to take advantage of these two revolutions.’

He said EQ Investors has done impact investing for 10 years, making it the first discretionary fund manager to make impact investing available to IFAs and their clients.

‘We have a six-year track record with our positive impact portfolios. We are often asked the question: “if I make a positive impact do I need to compromise on financial returns?” Our track record shows that is not the case, but that it is the opposite,’ he said.

Impact award for asset manager: WHEB

WHEB invests solely according to its positive impact strategy and manages around £270 million. The London firm invests in environmental and social themes such as resource efficiency, sustainable transport, water management, education, health and wellbeing.

Managing partner and chief investment officer, George Latham, is also enthusiastic about the journey ahead for this market but says it needs to develop to reach its potential.

‘We have the potential to be at the beginning of a really exciting journey. There does need to be greater uptake,’ he said. ‘At the moment there is more noise than actual capital deployed. And there also needs to be more ability to invest across asset classes.’

Latham believes the issue of greenwashing will be resolved naturally. ‘As clients become more knowledgeable and advisers become more experienced at seeing what is real from greenwash, that will put more pressure on fund managers to come forward with real solutions.’

Impact award for new product launch, direct investment: Resonance – Resonance West Midlands SITR fund

Resonance manages around £150 million and has geographically focused funds that invest in social enterprises. One fund focuses on Bristol, one on the West Midlands and a third social investment tax relief fund is in the pipeline for the north east.

Investment manager, Grace England, described Resonance’s progress with its SITR fund. ‘SITR is a game-changer for our sector. It is the first time we have been able to offer a tax-efficient product in our space.

‘The fund structure allows lots of investors to engage all at once and means we can engage lots of social enterprises.’

She added investors can diversify their investments. ‘When you commit to a fund, you are guaranteed a minimum of six investments, but it will be more like 10. That diversifies investors’ risk.’

Impact award for new product launch, collective investment: Hermes – Hermes Impact Opportunities Equity fund

Tim Crockford, Hermes lead manager, said the fund now appeals to a broad spectrum of investors after initial scepticism.

‘The exciting thing we learnt since launch almost a year ago is the audience has been hugely broad, all the way from continental European pension funds, US institutionals to UK private wealth and multi-manager platforms.

‘Initially it was hard to convince people of our dual mandate of impact with market-beating returns. But it has been easier than we thought.’

Crockford said it is an all-cap fund but the companies tend to be smaller than the benchmark, delivering solutions in areas such as offshore wind, genetic medicine and micro-finance in developing nations.

‘We hope these companies will be the benchmark companies of tomorrow,’ he said.

Share this story

More Content

BUSINESS

On the road: the best bits from advice businesses in 2018

On the road: the best bits from advice businesses in 2018

We love seeing where our readers are working, and learning what their locale has to offer. Here is a roundup of some of the best bits from 2018.

ADVICE

FCA fines investment consultant over Vanguard conflict

FCA fines investment consultant over Vanguard conflict

The Financial Conduct Authority has banned investment consultant Angela Burns from acting as a non-executive director and fined her £20,000 for 'failing to act with integrity with two mutual societies.'

twitter_banner

INVESTMENT