Those of us who save and invest ethically like to think that we are doing our bit to help the environment or encourage sustainable international development. Are we really making a difference or just making ourselves feel better?
A chance encounter at RISC (Reading International Solidarity Centre) led to my being invited to give a talk on ethical finance during Reading International Festival. I chose to focus on the fact that investors hope to encourage ethical activities through portfolio choices (the heady cocktail) but may instead find that the retail products in which they invest are not quite what they imagined (the disappointing brew).
The event was well-attended and thanks to the knowledgeable audience, we had a thought-provoking discussion about the ethical use of money, ranging across topics like the relative merits of lending to, and buying shares in ethical companies; fund managers’ fees; CEOs’ stock options and the implications of tax breaks for responsible investing.
It was great to have the chance to speak to a diverse audience which was united in a passion to act responsibly and to encourage business to do the same. My thanks to Zainab Khan for organising the event and to everyone who came along and made it such a stimulating evening.