A Sustainable Future

17.7.2020

I hope everyone is keeping safe and well and managing to remain positive. I for one am very much looking forward to taking some time out with the family next week in Cornwall. The past few months have been extremely challenging for everyone and it is easy to forget that we need a break to re-charge the batteries. If you do manage to get away, I hope you have a great time.

In this update, I wanted to share some further developments we are working on for our clients.

One of our core values is that we Care. As a business, we care – about all of us, about how we work together and our environment.

Brunel believes Corporate Social Responsibility is about living the values and principles that govern the way we operate as an organisation and behave as individuals.

Ensuring we sustain safe operations, have a positive and supportive impact on our employees, the communities we work in and the wider environment, and ensuring we continually strive to build the trust and respect of our clients. We recognise the impacts that we make on society, the economy and the planet, and we seek to make a positive difference in the places where we operate.

Many of you will have seen some of the fantastic work our team has done for charity and making a difference in our local community has always been a big part of what we are about. We now have a dedicated team looking at all of this to ensure our impact remains totally positive across all areas of the business and we achieve the high standards we have set ourselves.

We know from our conversations with you, our clients that some of these matters are really important to you too.

One of the biggest themes we are seeing within the investment world is that of ‘sustainable’ investing. You might have seen it referred to as Ethical, SRI (Socially Responsible Investing), ESG (Environmental, Social & Governance) or ‘Impact’ investing but it all fundamentally means the same thing – making a positive impact on our world and the creatures (including humans) in it, through the investments you choose.

I don’t think any reasonable person would argue that this is a good aim.

In the past my only reservations have been what it implies about ‘ordinary’ investing or indeed who’s definition of Ethical, Responsible or Impact we are referring to.

Historically, Ethical investing meant avoiding certain areas you disagree with (negative screening to use the technical term). In recent years people have seen that positively engaging with companies to encourage change has garnered much better results. The reality is that most big investment companies, by their sheer size, command a seat at the table of most big firms to pressure for positive change. Indeed Vanguard, the world’s biggest fund manager, actively engage with boards to deliver good governance and responsible management. But is that enough?

Ethical investing has also previously been seen as a nice idea but one that severely restricts investment choice and gives up financial growth prospects. Time has however shown that neither is true. As demand has increased the range of options has ballooned but also ‘sustainable’ industries are often those in the fastest growth areas and with the greatest long-term potential. A case in point is the impending climate crisis – companies focusing on renewable energy sources certainly have a long and bright future (assuming they get the right technology and source of energy).

While we each may have slightly different definitions of what ethical means to us there is also likely to be a strong overlap of the things that we want to see in the future. The UN have come up with a set of Sustainable Development Goals which many of us will agree are taking us in the right direction:

At IronBright we have decided that the time is right to introduce focused sustainable portfolios as an option for our clients. If you want to find out more, please get in touch with your financial planner.

With best wishes

Damien Rylett
CEO

With thanks to Dan Hiles, Chair of our Investment Committee for his contribution.