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Simon Read: It is time to think again about ethical money

By The Independent

The ethical investment industry is giving itself a makeover, but the problem seems to lie more with getting its message and its methods into the mainstream.

This weekend marks the launch of Good Money Week. Haven’t heard of it?

It used to be branded National Ethical Investment Week but has changed, according to the co-ordinators at the UK Social Investment Forum, making it “relevant and accessible to a much wider audience”.

It is debatable whether ethical investment needs such a makeover. According to Ethex’s Annual Report on Positive Investing 2014 a record 1.7 UK million people are saving or investing £3.25bn directly in businesses that create a social or environmental impact.

That includes £2.1bn in credit unions and £800m in ethical banks and building societies, organisations that can really demonstrate to their members the benefits of taking an ethical approach to finances.

 But evidence suggests that ethical investment has failed to make a decisive breakthrough into the mainstream. According to figures from the Investment Management Association, ethical funds under management were £9.7bn at the end of August 2014, leaving their share of the industry’s £823bn total funds at just 1.2 per cent, the same relatively tiny percentage as this time last year.

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