Ethical investing crops up for me on the road now and again. Advisers who have stood out for me as leading in this field have been Brigid Benson of Manchester-based Gaeia, Mark Hoskin of Holden & Partners and Tim Bradford at Barchester Green Investment.
My travels this week took me to another adviser who is succeeding in this space. I headed to Norwich to meet Phil Cockrell, director of Investing Ethically, who has been with the firm since 2001.
Remodelling the business Cockrell is remodelling the business after buying out its previous owner in March.
He is championing the move to fees within the firm as well as revamping its investment strategy. This has involved examining outsourcing options for the firm.
Although the ethical investment space has grown, Cockrell said there was a limited choice of outsourcing providers operating in the area.
He uses King & Shaxson, Rathbone Greenbank Investments and Smith & Williamson Investment Management, but is keen to widen the pool of discretionary fund managers (DFMs) he employs.
‘You have to make sure you have lots of options,’ he said. ‘There is a small pool to choose from.’
Relying on the community
Cockrell has relied on the ethical advice community in seeking to expand investment options for the firm.
One DFM on his radar is Parmenion, which provides ethical investment options.
He came across the DFM through the Ethical Investment Association, run by Barchester Green director John Ditchfield.
Cockrell believes the changes he is making will ensure the firm’s longevity, and build on its solid relationship with clients.
He said ethical investors tended to be ‘sticky’ clients, who took a more active interest in where their money was held and did not have the returns those investments delivered as their sole focus.
The next stage for Cockrell is to grow the firm. He is open to acquisitions and organic growth. ‘Bigger is better,’ he said.