Advisers getting to grips with ethical investing

The advice industry is slowly coming to terms with the advantages an ethical investment offering can bring to the business, according to Premium Wealth Management chief executive Paul Harding-Davis.

“In the past very few dealer groups have had meaningful arrangements with products available,” he said.

That meant advisers couldn’t construct a fully diversified portfolio for a client that wanted all their money invested that way, assuming the adviser even had access on the platform to ethical investment products.

And that’s not even taking the knowledge factor into account, but Harding-Davis said the good news is there are now very efficient online training programs for responsible investment services, as well as a specialist wrap (The Emerald Wrap).

“You can now very quickly start the learning curve, you can get access to a broad enough range of products and services to construct a proper diversified and properly put together portfolio and some of those barriers have gradually been removed but the awareness of that is probably still fairly low,” Harding-Davis said.

One of the overlooked advantages of having an ethical investment offering is the ability to forge deeper and more meaningful relationships with clients, he said.

“Any way you cut it, most Australians I know are passionate about something, they’re enthusiastic about some aspect of the community, some form of charity or philanthropic [organisation], they’re very generous and involved – why not connect that to your client’s strategies and portfolios and have a much deeper involvement?” he said.

The misconception that ethical investments don’t perform as well is also gradually disappearing, Harding-Davis said.

“I still constantly hear that you’ll have to give up performance, which has pretty much been disproven by many years of academic research. It’s still there and people still think that’s the case even though it’s demonstrably not,” he said.

Not only that, but because they tend to perform better in down markets, they can also add “a nice diversifying contribution,” he said.

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