What does good really look like?
By David Penney
We are all about the future. Indeed, it is the very essence of the service we provide at Penney Financial Partners.
When we are working with our clients, we will often ask them what their ideal future looks like. We want to know what good looks like to them.
Only when we understand this can we help them build a plan that will allow them to achieve those future goals.
It is a hugely personal process. Everybody’s aspirations and individual goals are different and as such, every financial plan is tailored to meet a client’s needs.
However, meeting a client’s needs is merely the starting point of the process. If we really want to understand what good looks like then we also need to talk about values, something that is becoming as important to our clients as it is to us.
There will be many consequences of the recent pandemic – both positive and negative – but one of the most important consequences of the past year is that it has allowed us all to reassess and examine who we are and where we stand on the biggest issues facing our planet today.
The writer and activist George Monbiot has described this moment as a time to rekindle our moral imaginations – a time when we need to understand the impact we each have on the planet and then take steps to reconnect with other people and the natural world.
Few of us now can be under any illusions about the crisis this planet faces if we fail to take measures now. The climate science is pretty unequivocal and the damage that is being done to the delicate eco-systems around the world by more than seven billion consumers is clear for us all to see.
As part of the St. James’s Place family, we are proud to be part of an organisation that has been responding to these issues for a number of years and responsible investing is not just a defining characteristic of our investment approach but is also a critical component in creating long term value for our clients.
Increasingly, the way a company approaches environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues will have a significant influence on its long-term prospects and as such, its appeal to its investors, suppliers and customer.
Responsible investing is now standard practice at SJP and its entire fund range meets high standards of responsible investing by integrating ESG considerations into all investment decision making and actively engaging with company decision makers.
To coin a phrase that you may have heard me use before, when it comes to how and where you invest, there is no need anymore to put purpose before profit.
But how and where we invest is just one part of the jigsaw. For us all to really make the difference that our planet desperately needs, it is not just important that we better consider how we grow wealth but also better consider how we then use it.
Many or even most of us will already have taken some personal measures to live what we consider to be more sustainable lifestyles, from driving an electric car to ensuring we fulfill our recycling obligations once a fortnight.
Both actions are important steps to lower emissions and minimise waste and yet there remains something of a disconnect between how we live our lives and the impact we have on the wider world.
According to research led by the Research Institute for Humanity and Nature in Kyoto, Japan, the average western consumer of coffee, chocolate, beef, palm oil and commodities is responsible for the felling of four trees every year – many in wildlife rich tropical forests.
In five G7 countries – UK, Japan, Germany, France and Italy – more than 90 per cent of their deforestation footprint was in foreign countries and half was in tropical nations.
The situation in our oceans is equally as perilous – according to the new Seaspiracy show on Netflix, industrial fishing has already wiped out 90 per cent of the world’s large fish and is currently deforesting nearly four billion acres of the seafloor every year.
These are undoubtedly alarming statistics, and they are becoming increasingly difficult to ignore. This really does feel like the moment when we all have to take personal responsibility for our own impact on the planet.
At Penney Financial Partners, we are on the beginning of a journey. This year we have committed to becoming a carbon neutral business and we are also partnering with the Everyday Plastic Project at the Cheltenham Science Festival later this year, a fantastic school initiative that highlights the unsustainability of plastic use in the UK, where we discard 35 billion pieces of plastic every year.
We feel that this is a really important step in the right direction towards our goal of being a voice for reflection and change around these hugely important issues - because what good looks like to us is creating a better future, in a world worth living in.