Jersey’s first advisory service on sustainable investment

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Concentric co-founders, James Painter and Gordon Bennie, each have almost 20 years’ experience in investment management and Mr Painter said they decided to launch Concentric in answer to the ‘massive increase in interest’ in this area. ‘Clients demand sustainable investments because they are realising that the companies that are creating change are really benefiting from the structural shift and they are the best place to generate returns from the way in which we look after the environment, and by basically being well governed businesses,’ he said.

‘From the trust world, the generation of mostly baby boomers or Gen X, they didn’t think much about sustainability, but the millennials, who are the ongoing beneficiaries, to them it’s very, very important.’

Impact investment allocates capital to businesses that create measurable, positive social and environmental impacts, moving far beyond the environmental, social, and governance criteria, which most major global companies already report on.

Mr Painter agrees that Jersey has not been as organised as Guernsey in this area. ‘Guernsey are ahead of us,’ he said. ‘They have more thinking at a government level around green initiatives, but the public awareness in Jersey is fantastic now. There are so many great initiatives going on in this island with regard to sustainability.’

Mr Painter praised Jersey Finance for setting up their impact investment group and Joe Moynihan, the chief executive of Jersey Finance, confirmed they are keen to encourage more sustainable finance. ‘We consider that building Jersey’s reputation in the socially responsible investing space is not only important to the finance industry, but there is a clear link between this work and the Government’s strategic priorities, in particular “put children first”, “create a sustainable, vibrant economy and skilled workforce for the future” and “protect and value our environment”,’ he said. ‘The latter objective aligns well with Jersey as an environmentally focused island, and with the rise in awareness around ‘being green’, we see that this is likely to be a popular theme for investments.’

Mr Painter said the response to Concentric’s launch had been fantastic. ‘People are very interested to engage in this subject,’ he said. ‘Underneath the beach cleans and all the other great things people do, people are realising their pensions are invested in a lot of companies that aren’t doing the world any favours at the moment and by moving those investments, they can do a better deal for the planet and get a better return for themselves.’

While there are some allegations of ‘green washing’ or ‘impact washing’ with regards to investment choices, Mr Painter said this is an excuse for inertia. ‘At least it is making a statement and positioning people so they actually care about these issues,’ he said. ‘We are now at a point where an investment manager can tell you what rate of return has been achieved by your investment and also give you an impact measurement, even saying, for example, it has used 50 litres of water or educated 300 school children.’

The Global Impact Investing Network, an industry body, estimates that USD$502 billion in assets are already being managed via impact investing worldwide.

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