Finding someone who will respect your ethical principles and take them seriously, is easier than it used to be.
Financial advisers tend to operate as small businesses, partnerships, or sole traders and there are more than 5,000 in the UK. Financial advisers used to focus on a specific region, but nowadays many will advise nationally.
In recent years money has been pouring into ‘ethical’ funds, many of which have been performing better than traditional funds for a while now. This means that even previously cynical advisers are showing more respect for the ethical approach, and you’d be hard-pressed to find one that didn’t mention ‘sustainability’ or a similar buzzword at least once in their promotional materials. In a way, this can make finding a decent ethical adviser harder than it was.
How much can an ethical adviser cost?
Approaching a firm for bespoke advice is rarely recommended for people with less than £100,000 to invest (which is the majority of UK citizens). Indeed, one 2019 survey has suggested that only 16% of financial advice firms would take on a client with less than £100,000.
However, they can be really useful for complex long-term arrangements like pensions, lump sum inheritances, and mortgages and we suggest consulting them occasionally in some of our money guides.
Some firms will charge an hourly rate for a consultation which may not be linked to how much you have. Costs for this approach can start at around £200.
It's always good to choose someone whose website is clear and upfront about what the charges will be.
The section on platforms, below, explores more options for people with less money.
Finding an ethical financial adviser
The Ethical Investment Association is a group of advisors who are "keen to offer green and ethical investment advice to their clients". It was founded in 1998 and is now a sub-group of the UKSIF – the UK Sustainable Investment and Finance Association.
They have a list and contact details for their 57 current members on their website.
If you want to narrow this list down, pioneers in the field with solid reputations and who we know at Ethical Consumer, include:
- Castlefield Advisory Partners, Manchester, London & Salisbury. Tel: 0330 088 4890.
- The Ethical Investment Co-operative, Richmond. Tel: 01748 889440
- The Ethical Investors Group, Cheltenham. Tel: 01242 539848
- Investing Ethically, Norwich. Tel: 01603 309020
All four, as most of their names suggest, focus exclusively on ethical investment advice.
Four more, also focused on ethical advice, and who we have recently been impressed by are:
- EQ Investors, London Tel: 0207 488 7110. Award-winning firm of financial planners & investment managers. Experts in sustainable investing and a founding B Corp.
- Simply Ethical, Middlesex. Tel: 0208 945 3786. Offers both socially responsible investment advice and Sharia-compliant arrangements
- The Path Financial, London, Brighton, Manchester, Exeter, Bath Tel: 03330 503 300
- Good Green Money, Blackburn. Tel: 01254 247913
We always like to add that, even with ethical advisers, you do need to find someone with whom you are comfortable personally, and it may be worth trying more than one. As one of our subscribers wrote to us:
“I had some money I wanted to invest and so I started looking for a financial adviser. I found quite a few who claimed to know about green and ethical investments, but I wasn’t impressed by any of them. They explained that I could cut out certain companies, but they didn’t really seem to understand what I wanted to do. It took a while to find someone on my wavelength, but when I did, it made such a difference.”
Ethical Investment Platforms and Robo-Advisers
For those with smaller sums to invest or save, it is possible to start online with as little as £2 per week, though the 'advice' will come from a series of questions on a website or app (a Robo-Adviser), rather than a relationship with a real human being.
We rank some ethical investment platforms against our usual criteria in the guide to ethical Stocks & Shares ISAs.
We also discuss ethical investment platforms throughout our guide to ethical investment funds.
The Big Exchange is a Best Buy platform that takes its ethical questions seriously.
It is also worth noting that some of the websites of the financial advisers discussed above enable logins to trading platforms too, so there is some overlap in what is available.
Find out more about ethical investing
If you're thinking about ethical investing and want to know more before speaking to someone, a good place to start is our introduction to ethical investing.