Ask Money: can you help solve my closed-ended ethical dilemmas?

We help a reader with a question about ethical investing.

January 29, 2020

Like many of your readers, I have been progressively moving my (modest) Isa investments into ‘ethical’, socially beneficial and sustainable portfolios. In selecting these, the green symbol used in your unit trust and open-ended fund statistics section has been very useful.

The increasing coverage of such funds in articles by Rachel Winter and others has also proved to be very informative.

At present, I do not hold any investments in investment trusts, basically because the financial services platform I have been using for many years is not yet technically able to arrange these. Having expressed my disappointment on this issue several times to the company, I await a satisfactory explanation about why this appears to be such a problem. Perhaps you can shed some light on this in general terms.

If and when I am able to  make an investment in an investment trust portfolio, I would again seek out ‘green’ possibilities, like for example Greencoat UK Wind, which you have mentioned in recent articles.

Is there a reason why Money Observer cannot identify investment trust portfolios with the same green symbol that appears in the open-ended fund statistics?
David Slinger, Gloucester

Money Observer replies: the main reason we don't identify 'green' investment trusts is because, unlike open-ended funds, they have tended to be very much focused on specific niche sectors - notably the renewable energy, infrastructure and environmental sectors. This may change in time as more mainstream trusts focus more on ESG factors in making their portfolio choices. This month’s editorial comment explores the current situation further.

As far as your unsatisfactory platform situation is concerned, it is quite possible to vote with your feet and switch platforms to one that does cater for investment trusts. There is a feature we ran on this subject, looking into what’s involved, at the following link.

If you need help with a tax, pension or financial planning problem, please email:

Ask Money articles
Money Observer’s Ethical Portfolio
Ethics has entered mainstream investment thinking
Do investors have to choose between green and greed?
Ask Money: what about an ethical ranking for investment trusts?
Top 10 most popular ethical funds of 2019
How to do climate-friendly ETF investing

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Changing Platforms

I have used two of the major platforms in the last 7 years. At the time I changed providers, the forum-based advice was to reduce the overall cost of running the portfolio by moving to a flat fee service from a percentage fee. This has certainly been cheaper. HOWEVER......the service in the flat fee provider is poor. You would think that organising payment for services would have been simple and commercially an imperative for the platform. But no....apparently numerous people have tried to sort it out to no avail. So whilst costs are a consideration for me.....I am beginning to think that you get what you pay for. Less clunky website, quicker and more helpful responses. And If I make some small changes to my portfolio, I can keep costs low.

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