Guest blog: Move your investments

Michael Buick explains why its even easier to invest ethically with new ethical investments platform Ethex

Ethex.org.uk is a new website that makes it easier for you to invest your money positively.

Its great to move your bank, but we can have a bigger impact if we also move our investments.

This is an important way to take back control of our money, by actively deciding where it is invested.

We call this ‘positive investing’: actively investing in ethical businesses, to get financial but also social and environmental returns.

So far this hasn’t been that easy.

The most popular approach to making investments more ethical has been to use an ethical investment fund, which over half a million people in the UK do each year (EIRIS 2012). This can be a good start, but the majority of funds, like much of the rest of the financial sector, have failed to keep up with what we would expect of them, as a study by campaign group FairPensions recently showed:
 “much of the industry appears to be characterised by the unthinking application of a traditional screening approach to an outdated set of ethical priorities.” (FairPensions, ‘Ethically Engaged? A survey of UK ethical funds’, Dec 2012).

Most funds work by simply avoiding the least ethical companies, like tobacco or arms manufacturers, and investing for purely financial returns in whatever is left. You are handing your money to someone else to make the decisions.

A second option is ‘positive investment’: investing directly in ethical businesses. That way you know exactly what your money is being used for, and you can choose exactly what kind of social and environmental benefits you want your investment to support.

To get these benefits has taken quite a commitment in the past: to find out what’s on offer, compare the options, and go through the investment process oneself. It should be much easier.

That’s why we have launched Ethex: a new online marketplace for positive ethical investments. Ethex makes it easy to find, understand and make investments in leading social businesses.

Investments featured on Ethex are all from businesses that put their mission at their heart, alongside financial returns, whether they are developing clean energy or better homes for the least advantaged.

You probably don’t want to move all your investments at once, but starting to make some positive investments is a great way to get more out of your money. It is exciting to invest directly in a business that you are really passionate about. Businesses like Good Energy, which is helping individuals to generate, sell, and use 100% renewable energy, or Traidcraft that supports innovative farmers and Artisans around the world to creating and sell fair trade products.

For example Sue made her first positive investment over a decade ago: “the charges are fair, and the financial returns are fair… The real kick I get is from knowing that I am supporting something that helps the planet, people, animals… I’m very proud to be part of it.”

You don’t need huge amounts of cash to get started — positive savings and investments starting from £10, in renewable energy, ethical finance, community enterprise, fair trade, and social property.

Make money do good at Ethex.org.uk

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Ethex launched earlier this January, with startup funding from five charitable foundations, and is run on a not-for-profit basis.

Ethex: make money do good.

This story was originally published at moveyourmoney.org.uk in 2013.

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