Responsible investing: Your weapon against climate change

James Cridland of Coleridge Wealth Management in front of Clevedon Pier and beach

James Cridland of Coleridge Wealth Management - Credit: Coleridge Wealth Management

It can take less than a minute to make a difference on climate change, and all you need is your computer, says James Cridland, of North Somerset financial advisors, Coleridge Wealth. 

Writing a simple email to your HR team or pension provider could be one of the most effective actions you can take in the fight against climate change – and one of the quickest too. 

The email could look like this: 

Hi, 

I want to invest my pension responsibly to ensure that when I retire, it is in a world worth living in. I want to understand how you engage with the businesses you support on environmental issues to ensure a sustainable future. Is my money invested in businesses that are on the right side of climate change? 

Thanks, 

James. 

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Most people don’t know their pension gives them influence. It is a powerful vote that you’re probably not using. 

You know climate change is a huge issue. You may already be doing things to make a difference, such as not wasting electricity, using a bag for life and eating less meat. You might even be joining protests or writing to your MP. 

But if you have a pension, you have a latent power that could have a bigger impact on our environment than all those things put together. 

Research shows investing your pension responsibly can have 27 times more impact on your personal carbon footprint than flying less, taking shorter showers, eating less red meat and taking the train instead of the car combined.1 

You can also use the email to address other issues you care about, such as social inequality, human rights or slave labour. It doesn’t matter if it’s a pension you’ve arranged or one that’s been set up by your employer. 

Who decides how to use your money? 

The money in your pension is being used on your behalf right now. People you’ve never met are deciding which companies to invest it in to help it grow. As each company grows, so does the value of your share in it. This is how your pension pot increases over time. 

The money in UK pensions was £6.1 trillion between 2016 and 20182 – a huge amount, which is mostly used by companies to keep expanding and profiting. You are likely funding companies you’ve never heard of, as well as household names. 

They all need this money to keep running and to grow. Many are larger and more influential than some small countries, responsible for hundreds of thousands of employees and billions of pounds worth of resources. These companies’ actions have a huge impact on the environment – far more than we can ourselves. 

For example, getting one person to boycott plastic is good. Getting one global company to stop selling it completely is much better. 

Money talks and your pension is loud  

Until recently, the focus of pension investments was solely on financial returns. But as the world wakes up to the severity of the global environmental crisis, responsible investing has become a bigger priority. 

Responsible investing – also sometimes known as environmental, social and governance (ESG) investing – directs money into high-performing companies that operate sustainably, which means you could earn returns while taking better care of the planet and its people. 

It also engages with businesses in sectors where change will have the largest impact, such as oil and gas, encouraging them to transition to clean energy. As you own a share of these businesses through your pension, you can help point them in this new direction, and that’s powerful. 

Doing business the old way damages the planet and won’t leave us with a world we want to live in 50 years from now. Shifting our trillions of collective pension pounds away from companies with poor records towards those that are improving their environmental impact does three extraordinary things. 

  1. It forces companies with a negative impact to improve their way of working. 

  1. It gives good organisations a financial boost. 

  1. It can help deliver returns for you, the investor. 

Many of the companies with strong ESG principles are exciting, cutting-edge businesses such as Microsoft, Nike and Volkswagen. They have better long-term growth prospects and could be worth far more in future because they are, by nature, more sustainable. 

Have your say now 

Imagine if every person with a pension sent an email like the one above. The more people who do this, the bigger the impact will be. The shift could be seismic.  

Take charge of what other people do with your money – and by the time you come to spend it, the planet could be in better shape. 

Our world is changing faster than anyone predicted. We believe responsible investing has a huge role to play in shaping a better world and building a sustainable future.  

To receive a guide to our approach to response investing email coleridgewm@sjpp.co.uk  

The value of an investment with St. James's Place will be directly linked to the performance of the funds you select and the value can therefore go down as well as up. You may get back less than you invested. 

Sources: 

1 Sustainable finance at Nordea, Nordea, 2019 

2 Pensions, savings and investments, Office for National Statistics, September 2021 


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