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November 9, 2009    

Ethical concerns enter the mainstream

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by David Masters
Ethical concerns enter the mainstream

Businesses are beginning to understand that consumers have a conscience, a financial expert has claimed.

Robin Keyte, director of financial advice firm Towers of Taunton, said ethical concerns have moved from the fringes and are entering the mainstream, although many consumers are not yet aware of the ethical choices they can make.

“From Toyota to Cadbury, companies have woken up to a growing band of consumers that include green and ethical considerations when making purchasing decisions,” Keyte said.

Toyota has developed cars with hybrid engines to decrease fuel consumption, while Cadbury has committed to only using fairtrade cocoa in its Dairy Milk chocolate bars.

“These are just two examples of industry recognition that green and ethical considerations are now in the mainstream,” Keyte added.

The market for green and ethical investments is also growing fast.

A decade ago, just £1.5 billion was invested in ethical funds. Today, this has grown to around £7 billion.

Choice for ethical investors has also blossomed, with more than 100 ethical funds to choose from.

“Ethical investments can be found that match all sorts of client risk appetites, as well as their financial and ethical aspirations,” Keyte said.

According to Keyte, financial advisers can encourage ethical investment by being transparent with clients about how their money is being invested, and by letting clients know about ethical options.

“Consumers do not know that the ethical options exist,” he said.

“The result is that the conversation about green and ethical investment rarely takes place.”

Financial advisers who ignore ethical issues “run the risk of appearing as rusty old gas guzzlers,” Keyte concluded, “and I doubt there will be much in the way of cash for bangers.”

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