Home » ABC of Impact investing – A Guide

ABC of impact investing – a guide

There’s no doubt that impact investing is one of the biggest and fastest accelerating investment trends.

The Global Impact Investing Network, a non-profit organisation that promotes impact investments, estimates the market to be at least $715 billion,[1] which is up 42% on the $502billion a year earlier[2].

Environmental and social factors were previously much more of a sideline to meet the desires of a smaller proportion of people who cared about something other than just financial gain.

But today, investing for good strategies are far more in demand with far more focus on the companies – and investment opportunities – that promise a better world.

This ethos already exists in the way many people buy clothes, cars and even groceries.

They want to see that same impact ethos in the way they invest too.

If you’re new to the world of impact investing, here’s what you need to know:

What is impact investing?

Impact investments are made with the intention to generate positive, measurable social and environmental impact alongside a financial return.

Money is invested specifically in companies that are providing a solution to a problem for the planet or a community.

For example, you might invest in a company spending on wind and solar energy and committing vast sums for important development areas such as green hydrogen.

You might also support a housing association addressing diversity inequalities or helping unemployed tenants back into jobs.

It’s not uncommon for conversations on impact investing to be muddled with ethical investing as they both come under the “investing for good” banner.

But the two are very different.

What are the differences?

Ethical investments will screen out certain industries such as tobacco, alcohol and armaments, but the companies that are left may still have a negative impact on the planet or society.

Another style of investing sometimes talked about in the same breath as impact investing is known as ESG – standing for environmental, social and governance. Such investments take into consideration a company’s approach to ESG.

Ethical and ESG investing are only the first steps in the process in removing controversial industries and investing for good.

While ethical investing removes controversial industries and ESG focuses on how well a company is run, impact goes a step further.

Impact investing means that you will invest only into the companies that create a product or service that has a positive measurable social and or environmental impact.

Crucially, the impact will be aligned to the UN Sustainable Development Goals, which are a roadmap to achieving a better and more sustainable future for all.

They address a range of the most pressing global challenges, including poverty, inequality, climate change, and environmental degradation.

The benefits of impact investing

The benefits are wide-ranging.

Impact investing covers a huge range of areas under the environment and society banner and with the increasing number of investment choices today, you can choose investments based on personal values and preferences.

In other words, you can place your money behind the matters you feel most strongly about.

That brings the added feel-good factor that some positive change is happening which will improve lives of many.

As well as supporting crucial change, investing in companies that take sustainability seriously can also boost your returns.

For example, a BlueSphere Balanced Portfolio offers a balanced risk portfolio that contains a list of impact funds.

It has returned over 43% since the end of December 16 compared with 20% returned by similar funds.

  1. BlueSphere Balanced
  2. ARC Sterling Balanced

Looking more broadly, the FTSE4Good index of ethical stocks has beaten the FTSE 100 index of leading UK stocks over one, three and five and ten years.

The MSCI World SRI Index for socially responsible funds, has beaten the MSCI World Index over the same periods.

Not all of the stocks in these indices are impactful, however. Some stocks are classed as ethical or ESG. But the trend is clear – sustainability counts.

How to invest

 Using your pensions and ISAs you can invest in funds that back companies that are driving change for a more sustainable world.

The requirements for a company to “qualify” as an impact investment means a much stricter selection of companies than, say, an ESG approach.

For example British American Tobacco has been included in the FTSE 100 top 5 highest rated ESG companies.[3]

But a company like this just wouldn’t make it into an impact investing portfolio because while it may have strong ESG scores, the products it manufactures still have significant detrimental health implications.

However, there are many opportunities within the impact realm. Opportunities are global as impact investments can be made in both developed markets such as the UK as well as emerging markets – in the Far East, for example.

Rather than selecting the individual companies in which to invest, you can use funds that are dedicated to impact investing.

There are broad funds that look to cover a wide range of issues, and more targeted funds that may look just to seek opportunities within one theme.

For example, investing only in companies that are contributing to the decarbonisation of the world economy.

Working with your BlueSphere adviser you can construct a portfolio of funds and companies that have the power to change the world for future generations and create financial security for your own future.


[1] https://thegiin.org/research/publication/impinv-survey-2020

[2] https://thegiin.org/research/publication/impinv-survey-2019

[3] https://www.hl.co.uk/news/articles/ftse-100-the-5-highest-esg-rated-companies

What are your fees?2021-03-15T20:47:31+00:00

We charge our clients a fixed initial fee for our analysis, planning and advice and an optional ongoing service fee.

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This fee covers our analysis of your current finances including any existing pensions, savings and investments. The creation of a financial plan based on your current situation and what you wish to achieve and providing our advice of how we can make your current situation more suitable for you having gathered all of the information.

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This fee covers areas such as the management of your investments, regular financial reviews to keep your plan and investments on track, tax planning opportunities and between financial reviews unlimited access to our advice and guidance on any financial issues at all.

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Is this the same as Ethical Investing?2021-02-08T12:43:13+00:00

No.Ethical investments will screen out certain industries such as tobacco, alcohol and armaments, but the companies that are left may still have a negative impact on the planet. Impact investing is different as impact investments are made into companies that are seeking a positive impact on the planet. All the benefits of ethical investing, but with impact investing you are actively investing into the companies creating a positive impact on the planet.

Can I access my investments online?2021-02-08T12:33:28+00:00

Yes. We use what is called a platform, think of it as online banking for your investments. Once logged in you can see your investments, their performance, and many other areas of information relating to your investments.

Are my investments protected?2021-02-08T12:33:28+00:00

Your investments may be protected up to £85,000 by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS). For clarity this protection is not in place if your investments go down. Capital is at risk. www.fscs.org.uk

Can I still earn a financial return by impact investing?2021-02-08T12:42:43+00:00

Absolutely. These are investments first, their main aim is to provide you with a financial return, we just do so in a way that helps benefit people and planet. It is worth noting though, that all investments can go down as well as up.

Are my investments tied up?2021-03-15T20:43:26+00:00

No. You can access your investments at anytime. Should you need access to your investment capital it will normally take around 14 working days to sell out of your investments to generate cash ready to transfer to your bank account. Fees may be applicable.

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