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National Ethical Investment Week 2008 launched by UKSIF 27.11.07

The first ever ‘National Ethical Investment Week’ will take place in 2008, organised by the UK Social Investment Forum. It will run from 18-24 May 2008 (Sunday to Saturday) and will encourage everyone to consider green and ethical options for their investments.

National Ethical Investment Week will build on the soaring demand for green and ethical investments that has seen nearly six times as much going into ethical funds recently compared with a year ago. It will tap into the interest in greener living that has already seen awareness and sales of fair trade goods doubling over two years and more than one in two of us now buying organic fruit and vegetables.

Ethical Investment Research Services estimates that over £7 billion is invested in UK ethical funds. The quarter to end September 2007 saw an increase of nearly 600% in net new investments in ethical funds compared with the same quarter the previous year according to the Investment Management Association - £135.5 million in Q3 2007 compared to £23.1 million in Q3 2006. This total for net new investments was effectively unchanged compared with the previous quarter (Q2 2007) which saw £137.7 million net in new investment into ethical funds

It is the first time that the financial services industry has worked together under the umbrella of UKSIF on a programme to raise consumer awareness of green and ethical investments. Financial advisers and other financial and community organisations will be encouraged to use National Ethical Investment Week to raise awareness of green and ethical investment choices. UKSIF will provide ideas and support, including high quality promotional materials and a central PR campaign to back up local activities.

The UK Social Investment Forum (UKSIF) is the membership network for sustainable and responsible financial services. UKSIF promotes responsible investment and other forms of finance that support sustainable economic development, enhance quality of life and safeguard the environment. It also seeks to ensure that individual and institutional investors can reflect their values in their investments. UKSIF brings together the different strands of sustainable and responsible financial services within the UK and acts as a focus and voice for the industry. UKSIF’s 200+ members and affiliates include financial advisers, institutional and retail fund managers, banks, pension funds and non governmental organizations.

The initiative has attracted heavyweight backing from the industry with leading providers of green and ethical investments Henderson Global Investors, Norwich Union and Friends Provident sponsoring the inaugural week.

George Latham, Head of SRI at Henderson Global Investors said “The evidence can no longer be ignored: consumer interest in sustainable and responsible investing is continuing to grow rapidly and what was once considered a niche market is proving itself to be a long-term growth trend. This initiative is a welcome and necessary contribution to the ethical debate, raising the profile of the industry and underlining that investing with a conscience can be a powerful and profitable catalyst for change.”

James Dalby, Fund Propositions Manager at Norwich Union said “There are many myths surrounding green and ethical investing. One example is ‘ethical funds usually under-perform’. This is generally untrue – and National Ethical Investment Week will help to bust this and other common myths surrounding this growing area.”

Julia Dreblow, SRI Marketing Manager at Friends Provident said “Although ethical investment has enjoyed fantastic success over recent years, many people are still not aware of the range of green and ethical choices now available. National Ethical Investment Week will raise the profile of ethical investment as an option for all investors. Fairtrade Fortnight has shown how this sort of week can really make a difference.”

Awareness of the Fairtrade mark doubled from 25% of the population in 2003 to 50% in 2005, according to research by MORI for the Fairtrade Foundation; Fairtrade sales increased from £92.3M in 2003 to £195M in 2005.

Consumer research by Mintel for the Soil Association, published in its ‘Organic Market Report 2007’ found that more than half of those surveyed had purchased organic fruit and vegetables within the previous 12 months.

Penny Shepherd, UKSIF Chief Executive said “Over the last few years, UKSIF’s training and support has enabled an increasing number of financial advisers to assist clients wanting advice on green and ethical funds. We hope that advisers will highlight their skills and experience in advising on green and ethical investments to interested consumers during National Ethical Investment Week. We believe that the time is right for this exciting new move.”

A new web site will be launched to support National Ethical Investment Week. UKSIF’s current consumer web site is at www.investability.org.uk; its web site for financial services professionals, the media and non-governmental organisations is at www.uksif.org.

UKSIF provides a free online training course on green and ethical investment for financial advisers at http://www.uksif.org/consumers-advisers/online_course. This covers UKSIF’s 5-step model for advising on green and ethical investment, describes ethical investment issues that may be of interest to clients, explores risk and performance aspects and outlines the different approaches adopted by fund managers.

Peter Shield

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