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ESG demand comes from all investor types

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The ESG demand continues from all levels of investors, says Tim Cockerill, Investment Director, Rowan Dartington. The firm, founded in 1990, caters for what he calls ordinary people with investable wealth of around GBP100,000, offering discretionary wealth management and other services.

“The concept of ESG has been around for a long time,” Cockerill says, “but it has absolutely been taken up by a younger generation who are much more informed about these issues, maybe through social media.”

Cockerill finds that the younger generation’s concerns for the environment, as reflected in the widespread impact of Sir David Attenborough’s Blue Planet 2 television series which highlighted the tangible problems of plastic in the oceans, has also been reflected in their parents’ and grandparents’ generations.

“We have people in their 30s and up to their 60s talking about ESG investing – it’s always been there but now there is more of it and people are focusing on it who may have not been particularly aware of it before. People are thinking ‘I need to invest in a way that will bring about a positive impact because of where we are headed and it doesn’t look good.’”

Part of the St. James’s Place group, Rowan Dartington was originally a regional stockbroker, based in the south west, but now is much more of a national wealth manager, offering various levels of service with assets under management of GBP2.7 billion.

Client expectation, when they start out investing with ESG in mind, varies, Cockerill says. “Some clients come along and say first and foremost ‘I want to invest in a way that will be positive for the environment’, saying that while the return is important, they are not so focused on beating an index,” Cockerill says.

 “At the other end of the scale, we have clients who want to invest while having a positive impact but are also conscious of what they might be giving up and they will look at the benchmark return of their portfolio.

“However, there is increasing evidence, academic evidence, that if you are operating a business with strong ESG aspects, you are probably going to perform well.” ESG is an approach for clients who wish to make a positive impact and generate a positive return on their capital, he adds.

Rowan Dartington has a research team that constructs ESG portfolios, identifying funds that provide an ESG screen and also use a third-party data provider.

“We will sit down with fund managers and talk to them, look at their process and through that process make our decisions,” he says. “ESG investing is not the biggest part of what we do but the ESG assessment has been incorporated into our fund research and take up has been growing moderately well.”

 

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