‘Once We Were Anarchists’, Now We Are Investors

‘Once We Were Anarchists’, Now We Are Investors

A guest blog from James Corah, Head of Ethical and Responsible Investment at our sponsor  CCLA.

In 2004 one of my best friends came back from a small, independent, music festival in Oxfordshire with a hot tip. He’d found a new(ish) Anglo/Australian post-hardcore band and claimed that Million Dead, as they were called, was going to be our new favourite band. He was right. They were loud and angry, with driving guitars and screamed vocals. Everything that we loved.

At that point I wouldn’t have believed that, 15 years on, their lead singer Frank Turner would headline Greenbelt with a brand of punk-infused folk music…

Similarly, in the depths of the financial crisis it was impossible to think that the financial sector (whose recklessness had caused such despair and damage) could become a force for good. But it is happening. The Financial Times, the home of the notorious ‘How to Spend It’ supplement (that provides bankers who have much money but no clue what to spend it on with ‘guidance’) has launched ‘Moral Money’, a regular magazine exploring all that is ‘good’ in finance.

The great thing is that church and charity investors are at the centre of this revolution. Together CCLA is using our client’s money to not only seek to achieve a good financial return to support their mission but also drive the change that we so desperately need to see in the world.

We are tackling inequality. Through voting at company AGMs we are addressing excessive executive pay and, by promoting the Living Wage have helped hundreds (if not thousands) of the poorest people in the UK get a pay rise in line with the real cost of living.

We are also addressing poor corporate responses to mental health and, following the tragic collapse of a tailings dam in Brazil, the Church of England Pensions Board has called upon the mining industry to address an issue that continues to threaten many lives.

And last, but in no way least, we are using every tool in the box to address the most important issue of all, the climate crisis.

Our action ranges from divesting from high carbon companies, to using their shareholdings to take on some of the world’s most reluctant oil companies, like ExxonMobil, where the Church Commissioners are winning some ground.

We are also calling on the world’s governments to create genuinely climate positive legislation and regulation, and participating in the greatest investment opportunity of our age – the transition to a low carbon future.

At CCLA as a specialist fund manager for the charity, church and local authority sector, for example, we have dedicated our client’s capital to delivering new renewable energy to the grid, energy efficiency initiatives, battery technology (that will be essential for smoothing the energy generated from renewable sources) and sustainable forestry. Not only do these investments do good, they also provide a market rate return.

There is however, so much more work to do and all of the financial industry needs to get behind social and environmental action.

Whilst it is impossible to feature all of the good work done by church and charity investors it is clear that, like Frank Turner, good things can come from the most surprising places.

Good investment relies on good thinking, which is why we’re supporting the Pagoda this year. The reimagined venue is a space for wider conversations and bigger debates – a place to explore all angles, for a truly rounded view. CCLA, good thinking all ways round.