Sustainable Investment Pioneer Mike Appleby, Alliance Trust Investments

On the blog for Good Money Week we are celebrating Pioneers of Responsible and Sustainable Investment and today we hear from Mike Appleby, Alliance Trust Investments.

More than two thirds of British investors are looking for sustainable and ethical investment options. We interview Mike Appleby, Investment Manager at Alliance Trust Investments, the firm who last year launched a campaign highlighting ‘ten good reasons to invest sustainably’.

What drives you?

I am driven by making the business case for increasing sustainability within our economy – which should drive meaningful change.  Beating our conventional fund management competitors by investing in progressive companies without having to resort to unsavoury industries such as tobacco, arms, and heavily polluting companies. It’s proof that sustainability makes economic sense, and those that understand this will gain a competitive advantage

Which campaign are you most proud of this year?

I am proud that we have delivered strong ethical investment returns while being invested in companies that produce approximately two thirds less carbon than the market average. Our decision to actively avoid fossil fuels since 2001 is something that has stood the test of time.

What are the key characteristics that inspire change?

Action! Being proactive and rational, and using this to achieve a significant change in life or business. It’s too easy to simply talk about it. You have to have the courage to stick to your instincts and accept that not everyone in the room is always going to agree with you.

How is what you are doing inspiring change in others?

The more successful businesses there are, the more likely companies will realise it is not naïve to factor sustainability into the way you do your business – in our case investing. We need to get to a place where it is broadly acknowledged that winning businesses take sustainability seriously and gain a competitive advantage by doing so.

Who are your own green business heroes?

Costa Rica’s former environment minister Carlos Manuel Rodriguez, was part of the plan in the 1990’s to make Costa Rica what it is today. Ministers for the environment were often marginalised by finance and natural resource departments so putting Rodriguez in charge of all three departments was a masterstroke.

What excites you about the future and our progress towards a low carbon economy?

The pace at which renewable energy costs are falling (and becoming more cost-competitive) is fantastic, as is the appetite and rate of change in the electric vehicle market. It’s all beginning to happen, and about time but there is still a long way to go.

Often the rate of change feels very slow and it can be difficult to stay optimistic. But then you get these sudden shifts where progress is extremely rapid which is exciting.

The ten good reasons to invest sustainably:

  1. Sustainable investing is now growing at a faster pace than traditional investing
  2. Most UK investors want a sustainable option
  3. High net worth investors are shifting to sustainable investing
  4. Being in tune with sustainability helps us deliver a stronger performance
  5. Our sustainable funds have outperformed the market over 1, 3 and 5 years
  6. If you keep looking back, you’ll only see diminishing returns
  7. Investments that cause pollution could cost your clients money
  8. 80% of CEOs see sustainability as a way to gain competitive
  9. Our 5 risk rated funds make it easier to pick the right sustainable investments
  10. We shred the myth that SRI funds cost more to manage

To read more of our Greenhouse Pioneer interviews click here. To join in the conversation for Good Money Week follow #GMW2016 and @goodmoneyweek.