FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What is the problem you are trying to solve?
Many people’s savings and investments are invested in FTSE 100 companies. But it’s widely recognised that a third of these stocks are damaging to the environment – for example, there are plenty of oil and mining companies in there. So, by not thinking about where your pension or savings money is being invested you might be contributing to the climate crisis without even realising it.
How easy is it to invest in a way that helps the climate?
Choosing to invest your money in a way that helps the climate is something most people can do. You don’t need to be a millionaire. For example, most people have a pension or are saving for retirement. There’s the ability to choose where that money is invested. And that’s where we come in.
We want to help create a movement of people who think about where their money is invested and deliberately choose to put their money where it will do the climate most good. We want to help the planet while at the same time ensuring that people’s savings grow – it doesn’t have to be one thing or the other.
What makes Path Financial unique?
We believe we are the first financial adviser set up exclusively to deal with clients who want their savings and investments aligned with positive impact investments as opposed to just having ethical investments (as these can and often do include polluting companies).
We have been able to design our business from scratch with no legacy issues or non-impact investments that we need to move away from.
We are a community of caring and compassionate clients and advisers who are working together towards a core mission of saving the planet.
We believe we are also the only financial adviser who deals solely with clients who want their portfolios to not only do no harm but also to have a positive environmental impact.
Who founded Path Financial?
David Macdonald left a well-known firm of financial advisers to found Path Financial in 2019. He was frustrated that many people were investing in what they thought was an ethically responsible way, but unknowingly their money was being invested in companies that were adding to the climate emergency.
David got fed up with the lazy and complacent attitude of most financial advisers as to where their clients’ money was invested. There is often an assumption that there has to be a trade-off in performance if you want to invest in a way that has a positive impact. In fact, our evidence is that the reverse is true.
Are you doing this because it’s a good business model or because you believe in it?
We started with the idea that pensions, savings, and investments could be used as a force to reverse climate change. We had no idea just how massive the impact and influence could be or how good the investment returns are. In fact, we are now convinced it is the future of savings and will be a catalyst for the evolution of capitalism that can help lead to a sustainable future.
It seems to us that disinvesting from damaging and destructive companies is the only moral and practical choice. But far more impactful beyond that is reinvesting that money into clean and sustainable companies that are making a positive impact.
What is Impact Investing?
It is a way of investing for the returns you expect but at the same time making a positive difference in the world and aligning your money with your values.
Is it the same as ethical investing?
No. Ethical investing generally excludes certain investments such as alcohol, tobacco, gambling, pornography. But polluting companies that cause damage to the environment and cause climate change are often seen as acceptable in ethical portfolios.
Impact Investing usually takes place within an ethical framework, avoiding investments such as alcohol and tobacco, but not only excludes companies with a negative impact, it includes companies that make a positive impact.
Is impact investing the same as divestment?
No. Divestment is the selling of investments to exclude them from a portfolio.
In particular, the divestment movement concentrates on fossil fuel.
Impact investment goes further and invests in companies that are striving to operate more sustainably and make a positive difference.
Can my pension have a positive impact?
Yes, it can. Many people don’t realise that they can choose where and how their pension is invested. We can help you consider whether it would be right for you to move some or all of your pension(s) into impact investment.
With so many investment sectors excluded can I get adequate diversification in my portfolio?
Yes. Although the diversification may be a little different. You will have little or no exposure to fossil fuels, mining and extraction, and airlines for example. Instead, you will see diversification into green energy, fuel and battery research, re-cycling and up-cycling. In other words, you will be diversifying away from dying and threatened industries and instead investing with disruptors, creators and growth leaders. It seems like common sense, but up to now, relatively few people have been doing it.
Do I even need a financial adviser to invest in a way that helps the planet?
We believe so. It is unlikely a member of the public could carry out the research that we do when screening where our client’s money is invested, while also identifying investments that we think are likely to offer our clients a good return on investment.
Why is your approach effective at identifying investment ideas?
Companies with socially impactful ideas and products tend to be more innovative, higher growth and more progressive than the average company. Strong Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) metrics tend to mean better growth prospects with lower risk since bad ESG usually manifests itself in poor performance over time.
Do I have to settle for lower returns?
No. Returns are comparable to conventional funds. Arguably the expectation for investment returns should be very much higher than conventional funds since there are systemic risks (consumer behaviour, stranded assets, tax-based fines and legislation to name but four (!) with “bad” companies that are eliminated if impact metrics are used to exclude such companies from portfolios and replace them with “good” alternatives.
As Impact investment gathers pace we expect the risks of investing where the funds are causing damage to the environment to significantly increase.
Isn’t the model still broken – as it is capitalism that is causing the problems? So you might be better than some advisers but still not perfect?
We are not trying to end capitalism, though we are part of the solution to some of its problems.
We completely agree that there is a climate emergency and we have to act now – there’s a huge and immediate difference to be made through impact investment but a lot of people are not even aware that it’s a change they can easily make.
What are your charges/ fees?
We operate a completely transparent fee structure. We charge 2% of the funds you place with us as an advice fee and we have an annual charge of 0.75% of the value of your account for on-going advice.
How do your fees compare with other financial advice firms?
Our unique proposition makes it impossible to draw exact like-for-like comparisons, however we can say that our charging structure is comparable to other specialist advice firms in the industry.
What evidence do you have to back up your claims?
The best bet is to contact us and challenge us to prove it! Flows of impact information from companies and fund providers are really starting to ramp up. We provide customers access to analysis based on this data.
We also encourage anyone interested in The Path to not just take our word for it but to speak to some of our clients who have chosen to invest in a way that has a positive impact for the environment. Each quarter we provide an analysis of the specific positive impact they have created with their pension, investment or savings.
On the research front there exist numerous studies into the benefits of impact investment. Here are a few:
The biggest meta-study conducted to date concluded that: “outperformance opportunities exist in many areas of the market”
ESG and financial performance: aggregated evidence from more than 2000 empirical studies, Journal of Sustainable Finance and Investment, Gunnar Friede, Timo Busch, Alexander Bassen, 2015
A separate paper concluded, “80% of the studies show that stock price performance of companies positively influences by good sustainability practices”.
From the Stockholder to the Stakeholder, Arabesque Partners 2015
In another recent report “82% (of investors) believe the returns of sustainable investments will match or surpass those of traditional investments. Investors view sustainable companies as responsible, well-managed and forward-thinking – thus, good investments.”
Return on Values – UBS 2018
Who is your typical customer?
Typically, our clients have around of £150,000 in their existing pension or available to invest. However, we are happy to speak to anyone who is motivated by the concept, as we might be able to help or point them in the right direction.
In your view, who are the worst offenders in the FTSE 100?
A cursory glance of the FTSE 100 makes it pretty easy to identify companies that are involved in oil, mining and other environmentally damaging industries.
However, these aren’t the only companies in the FTSE 100 to be creating environmental problems. It’s not just about what industry the company operates in, it’s just as much about how they behave.
Can’t my existing adviser invest in a way that benefits the environment for me?
You could ask them! We have been set up with this solely in mind and are experts in our field. It is our business model, all day every day, not just something we dabble in to retain our client’s business.
How much money do I need to have?
Typically, our clients have around £150,000 in their pension or other forms of investment. However, we cater to customers at all levels, from their first ISA to investments of over £1m.
Isn’t only dealing with rich people being part of the problem? Don’t we all have to want less and do more?
Everyone can make a difference with their money. Even if working with The Path is not possible for you yet, we are only too happy to point you in the right direction. You could deploy as little as £50 in an impactful way, today.
We are a new company and are working on helping clients with smaller funds to make a difference with their investment – we will shortly be providing more help and advice on our website for people who may not yet have hundreds or thousands of pounds to invest but still want to make a difference.
How much difference will investing with Path Financial really make?
As Margaret Mead famously said: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
Never underestimate the power one individual can make. Even alone, making the move to impact investment can have 27x the effect compared to all of your other environmental commitments*.
*Your pension, savings or investments could have 27 times more impact on your carbon footprint, compared to all other activities combined. Source: https://www.nordea.com/
Do you support Extinction Rebellion?
Absolutely we do. We believe there is a climate emergency and that immediate action is needed. We believe that Extinction Rebellion can play an important role in helping raise awareness of the need for us all to think about where our money is invested.
Socially Responsible Investing (SRI) (also often referred to as “ethical” investment)
Generally speaking, this is the highest level of screening where companies with negative social activities are excluded. Typically such funds would not allow investments in companies where a significant part of its activities included: alcohol, tobacco, fast food, gambling, pornography, weapons, the military or increasingly fossil fuel production.
Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG)
Environmental, social and governance metrics are factors employed to measure the sustainability and ethics of a business. ESG metrics are often a useful indicator measure of how good (in more than one sense) a company’s management is. Furthermore, ESG analysis can often expose risk. These factors are increasingly mainstream data used to inform predictions of future financial results. ESG metrics are used in the measurement of investments to assess positive and negative impact, risk and opportunity.
Sustainability Development Goals (The United Nations SDGs)
The SDGs were launched by the United Nations in 2015. They comprise 17 goals and 169 sub-targets that the UN states need to be urgently addressed to solve some of the most urgent problems the world is facing. The idea was that companies and institutional investors were being asked to contribute through their business activities and investment decisions. As well as the SDGs providing the first generally agreed framework that defines the “broader objectives of society”, it is now recognised that investors need to get on board. As far as possible we want our client’s investments to be aligned with the SDGs
Perhaps best known for the movement urging investment institutions to sell stocks connected to the apartheid regime of South Africa in the 1970s, divestment campaigns have successfully targeted a host of issues, including the use of sweatshop labour and tobacco advertising. While economic impacts of divestment are debated, the University of Oxford’s Stranded Assets Program concludes the current fossil fuel “divestment campaign is likely to lead to a change in market norms” which may exert downward pressure on the valuation of fossil fuel-intensive industries – particularly coal stocks. As investors divest, these funds become more stigmatized and may face a diminishing pool of debt finance which encourages company investment in alternative sectors.
We see impact investment as positive selection and positive inclusion. Primarily, therefore, selecting funds that invest in businesses that contribute towards the preservation of the environment or benefit society primarily through their products and services. It covers a number of themes. Where it comes to tackling climate change and investing in the sustainable economy of the future, impact investors are investing in companies that are producing renewable energy, developing green technologies, sustainably managing forests, or applying innovative business models that combat climate degradation. We will also include businesses that may still have some negative aspects but who have a strong and proven commitment towards reform and the transition to sustainability.
At The Path, we recognise that shareholder power to influence and accelerate reform is vital. So for us, Impact Investment requires intentionality: fund managers and portfolio companies must proactively track, measure and report on their social and environmental impact.
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The Path Financial Ltd. Registered in England. Company No. 11583740. Registered office address: The Path Financial Ltd, Watch Oak, Battle, TN33 0YD
Authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.
The Path is entered on the Financial Services Register https://register.fca.org.uk under reference 827270.
The guidance and/or advice contained within this website is subject to the UK regulatory regime, and is therefore targeted at consumers based in the UK.
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