Sustainable Investment Pioneer: John Ditchfield, Castlefield Investment Partners

On the blog this week we are celebrating Pioneers of Responsible and Sustainable Investment and today we hear from John Ditchfield, Director of Castlefield Investment Partners.

John Ditchfield is undoubtedly a pioneer when it comes to ethical finance. He is one of the UK’s leading advisers on environmental investment funds and he advises a number of large charitable trusts.

To celebrate Good Money Week we are republishing our interview with a true ethical investment pioneer – John Ditchfield, Director of Castlefield Investment Partners.

In addition to his work at Castlfield, John is also Chair of the Ethical Investment Association (EIA) and a board member of UKSIF

Tell us, in 20 words or fewer, about Castlefield Investment Partners – what’s your mission?

To help people to ‘Make An Informed Choice’. We promote the value of investing in companies making positive contributions to society and the environment.

What motivates you to do what you do?

Hands holding plantI really enjoy what I do, the vast majority of people struggle to manage their finances efficiently and in line with their ethical values. And that’s exactly what we do – helping people to organise their money and invest responsibly. In practice, this means assisting with retirement planning, investment planning and working with trustees.

We also try to live our values in the way we run our own business. We actively campaign to promote best practice within ethical investment. We challenge funds labelled ‘ethical’ that we believe fall short of good practice in their screening approach. We help Castlefield to raise awareness of the opportunity to invest ethically by sharing best practice in the media.

What are the biggest challenges in building momentum for sustainable and ethical finance?

The investment industry is a fairly reactionary business slow to adapt to new ideas and new ways for working. For this reason, many consumers – and even professional advisers – struggle to find a way of getting good information on ethical and responsible investment options.

What trends or developments are you most excited about in sustainable and ethical investment?

Overall we are seeing the emergence of some real champions for the industry at Alliance Trust, WHEB and Quilter Cheviot. I also strongly support the development of high social impact businesses such as Ethex and the Social Stock Exchange – these organisations are promoting the growing number of enterprises which target a social return over financial returns.

What one thing could change the future of finance?

All employees should have the option to choose a really good ethical and sustainable investment within their workplace pension schemes.

What can we, as individuals, do to make a difference?

Understand where you are investing and take control of your money.

If you were Prime Minister for a day, what would be the first thing you’d do?

I think we need a more entrepreneurial culture and this should be supported by the tax system, so I would expand the Enterprise Investment Scheme and Venture Capital Trust (VCT) rules to include responsible investments.

What’s the coolest project or product you’ve come across, and inspired you?

I find Triodos inspiring as an organisation because of their very high level of integrity as an organisation, they are really 100% a responsible investment bank.

Can you recommend a life- or game-changing book for our readers?

The Power and the Glory by Graham Greene.

Can you leave us with who’d be your Ethical Investment Pioneer?

James Vaccaro of Triodos springs to mind.

Visit our clients page to find out more about Greenhouse and who we work with. To read more of our Greenhouse Pioneer interviews click here. To join in the conversation for Good Money Week follow #GMW2016 and @goodmoneyweek.