What on earth is ESG Investing?

The past few years have been challenging to say the least. Throughout this difficult time we’re proud to have been able to deliver a calm, stable and productive investment management service.

Our role is to continue to guide you through the choppy seas of world events and investment markets and produce competitive investment returns.

We’ll do this not only through great asset allocation and fund selection, but also the ongoing support, coaching and decision making.

It’s also important to us that your monies are invested appropriately.

That is why we’re really excited to introduce some further improvements to the PlanHappy portfolios which make sure environmental, social and governance (ESG) credentials of the companies in your portfolio are as important as their investment returns.

If you’ve been in for your Update and Improve meeting in the last few months, you’ll already know why we’re moving to these new portfolios and the benefits they provide.

If not, here’s what you need to know

What is ESG investing?

The world’s changing. You’ve no doubt seen or read about how governments and companies across the globe are focusing on the long-term sustainability and impact of their actions.

Put simply, our new PlanHappy ESG Portfolios are invested in companies who care about the environment, their customers, and employees.

The aim is to help reduce the long-term impact of what we do now on the long-term sustainability of the planet by reducing carbon emissions and improving working conditions, to name just a couple of factors.

­What difference will I see?

From the outside, your portfolios won’t change much. They’ll still be invested in the same asset allocations and fund types, but internally, the fund managers will be putting greater focus and pressure on the underlying companies you’ve invested in, to act in a way that’s more beneficial to the world around them.

Whilst the PlanHappy ESG portfolios do not guarantee to eliminate all exposure to companies or sectors that have poorer ESG ratings, they aim to allocate more to those that stick to higher environmental and sustainability standards and less to those that don’t, whilst remaining in line with our core low cost, globally diversified and passively managed philosophy.

Will I see any benefits?

Recent history has shown that, on the whole, ESG investments perform in line with, if not better than their standard alternatives for the majority of the PlanHappy portfolios over the last 5 years. Whilst historic performance is not a guarantee of future performance, this is a trend that is anticipated to continue as the area improves and companies get better at recording and reporting on ESG issues.

We believe now is a good time to move to an ESG investment philosophy, and not just because it is great to support investment managers and companies to drive through environmental and social changes that will impact us for generations to come.

We also feel that the long-term performance of these investments will be of benefit to you.

What do I need to do?

Don’t worry, as part of your ongoing service we’re handling these changes to make sure your portfolio provides the long-term performance expected within your tolerances for risk.

However, to experience these benefits we do need you to come along to your Update and Improve meeting.

Here we’ll explain in much more detail about how the move to ESG investing supports the ongoing improvement of your service.

What further benefits are included with my service?

Investment growth through portfolio management and performance is nice to have and can be easily quantified, however, you actually get much more monetary value through the overarching advice and planning parts of your service.

As a reminder, this is all the other great stuff we provide each and every year.

  • Managing your investment Portfolio – building your portfolio to ensure it provides the long-term performance that’s expected within the accepted tolerances for risk.
  • Tax guidance and planning – making sure you pay as little tax as possible on your investments through great financial planning and tax wrapper management.
  • Reviewing and refining your cashflow models to reflect changes in your desired lifestyle (Full Skippering Service) – life is not static, plans change and by adapting the plans to your changes in circumstances we help provide ongoing peace of mind. This provides real tangible benefits by showing that financially you’re still in a position to achieve your lifestyle and support any changes needed to make that a reality. It also provides an early warning system – if your plans require adjustment it is far more beneficial to ‘tweak’ plans earlier than later (when corrective action is either too late, or unachievable).
  • Improved financial decision making – research shows we generally make better decisions if we do so from a fully informed position. By understanding how you may behave in given situations we can help identify if you have any financial biases which influence the decisions you make. We can then help to manage these biases by presenting all sides of any decision. This brings tangible benefits to your wealth as shown in the ‘Behaviour Gap’ section further down the page.
  • Monitor and support changes in your capacity for losses – your ability to withstand investment losses (capacity for loss) actually changes throughout different life stages. For example, whilst working and accumulating wealth through contributions to savings and pensions we have a higher capacity for loss. However, in retirement we decumulate as we start to spend those savings and pensions which means that our capacity for loss often lowers. On-going advice can assess and support your capacity for loss by selecting appropriate methods to access funds in retirement.
  • Support with contributions and withdrawals – this helps to make sure you have the right level of financial resources at the right time in your life.
  • Investment update meetings with your planner – to make sure your investments are appropriate for your needs and operate within your feelings and tolerances.
  • Ongoing reviews of the suitability of your investments, wrappers, and providers – this helps to make sure your ‘materials’ are appropriate in light of your needs and planning desires, and always remain so.
  • Monitoring of investments to ensure the agreed risk profile is maintained – this makes sure your investment risk exposure is relevant for you and what you’re looking to achieve.
  • Support the transition through life events (and life stages) – big financial decisions often centre around life changing events, such as retirement, which can also be very emotionally charged and cause changes in how you view your finances. By understanding how you feel about such events we can help provide a balanced view of the decisions to be made to achieve your long-term objectives and support any changes needed to do so.
  • Financial wellbeing – through all of this we can help to take the worry out of your finances and give you the comfort and confidence to live your desired lifestyle, not just now, but in the future too. This is achieved by resolving complex financial matters into easily understood concepts. Only good quality lifestyle financial planning advice can provide this.
  • Being available for support and guidance – should you receive information linked to financial scams.
  • Providing telephone support and ad-hoc meetings throughout the year – should you have any questions or queries in relation to your investments or if your circumstances change.

 

What are the benefits of the ongoing advice, planning, and support?

One of the goals of an overarching planning and advice process is to help prevent knee-jerk emotional decisions that may cause longer-term financial harm compared to the short-term benefit.

For example, when investments start to fall, instinct may tell you to sell all your investments to prevent losses, however, studies show how investors behave has a measurable cost and that ongoing advice can add value to a portfolio by preventing poor/emotional decision making.

This is how many react:

Peoples reaction to market movements

With our help this is how we hope you react:

 

How we would like you to react to market movements 

 

The most recent study shows those who left their investments alone and rode out any periods of market volatility achieved average annual returns that were 4.92% higher per annum than those who moved in and out of the investments

The behaviour gap

Source: “Quantitative Analysis of Investor Behaviour 2020” by Dalbar Inc and Lipper. The Behaviour Gap identified in studies by DALBAR is the difference in returns achieved if somebody invested in the S&P 500 and left it for 20 years compared to an investor who jumped in and out of the same investments over the same period reacting emotionally to market performance and trying to time the market.

We hope you found this article useful

Remember we‘re always here to help if you’ve questions for us. Simply call, email, or pop in for a cuppa and we’ll see how we can help.

Don’t take our word for it…

Meet some of our clients and see what they think of us,
the PlanHappy process and how it’s helped them do what they wanted…

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