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Barchester Green Investment names the best and the worst in the sector

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

14 December 2011, London: Barchester Green Investment, the UK’s leading independent financial adviser specialising in ethical and environmental investment, has announced its Heroes and Villains of 2011. Barchester’s annual ranking of funds represents its view on the best and worst in the ethical and environmental sector. The ranking criteria for the funds are based on publicly available data and cover research quality, clarity and transparency of purpose, long-term commitment to the stated aims and the fund performance.

Jonathon Clark, Chairman of Barchester Green Investment, comments on this year’s rankings: “The reappearance of the WHEB Sustainability fund in 2011’s ‘Heroes’, due to its continuing development, is very encouraging. We are pleased to add the Cheviot Climate Assets fund to our 2011 ‘Heroes’. This international fund has a wide range of assets, including 15% in fixed interest, making it ideal for those wishing to invest in a lower volatility, positive environmental fund. Claudia Quiroz, the fund manager, not only has experience in sustainable investment but is also an environmental engineer.” He adds: “Of last year’s villains, Marks and Spencer Ethical Fund has now closed, citing lack of investment as the reason, whilst the Jupiter Environmental Income Fund has changed its criteria and its name to the Jupiter Socially Responsible Fund. This may make it less appealing to hard-line ethical investors, but at least it provides a more accurate description of its purpose.”

Henderson Industries of the Future Fund was included in this year’s ‘Heroes’ on the basis of its record to date. However Barchester Green voiced concern at the recently announced decision by Henderson Investors to remove two of the managers of their SRI funds and outsource their research. Clark comments: “This is a very strange move by Henderson given the company’s stated commitment to Socially Responsible Investment and means that the Global Care Growth Funds and Industries of the Future Fund will now be run by managers of mainstream funds, with no specialist experience.”

The closure of the Impax Environmental Leaders Fund was disappointing, although the Impax Environmental Markets Fund is still available as an investment trust.

The best and the worst funds for 2011 (in alphabetical order) are:

‘Heroes’

• Aviva Sustainable Future Managed Fund (new)
• Cheviot Climate Assets Fund (new)
• Henderson Industries of the Future (but see comments above re change of management) (new)
• Kames Ethical Equity Fund (2010 hero as AEGON Ethical fund)
• WHEB Sustainability (2010 hero)


And ‘Villains’

• CIS UK FTSE 4Good Tracker (new)
• Prudential Ethical (2010 villain)
• Scottish Widows Ethical (new)
• Scottish Widows Environmental Investor (2010 villain)

The Scottish Widows Environmental Investor Fund and Prudential Fund make repeat appearances on Barchester Green’s ‘Villains’ list and this year are joined by the Scottish Widows Ethical Fund. These funds display not only poor performance but have a very high proportion of their fund in the top ten holdings, many of which seem to have little reason to be in a fund with these specialist criteria.

Another new entry to the ‘Villains’ is the CIS UK FTSE 4Good Tracker. Says Clark: “The fund’s catchy name does not reflect its credentials: CIS claims an ethical background stretching back to the advent of the trade union movement but to trade on that heritage by placing investors in BP, Glaxo, Astrazeneca, Barclays, Shell and Rio Tinto is stretching credibility some way – 48% of the fund in the top ten holdings suggests little effort has gone into stock selection.”

Barchester Green believes AEGON Scottish Equitable Ethical Fund to still be a good ethical fund but, along with the other funds in the same stable, has been “rebranded” KAMES. Clark says: “The number of trees felled for this expensive exercise, mostly meaningless and confusing for clients, makes us weep.”

Last year a favourable mention was given to Aviva’s Sustainable Future range of funds without including any one fund in the ‘Heroes’ list. This year the Sustainable Future Managed Fund is included for its balanced approach to ethical investing. The fund has just under 50% invested in the UK, 16% in North America and 13% in Developed Europe, while the rest is spread around the world. The asset spread is 70% equities / 30% fixed interest. The wide spread of investment is also positive – the top ten holdings account for just 14% of the fund in sharp contrast to some other funds where the top ten account for over 40% of the fund.

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Photographs of Jonathon Clark are available on request

Editorial contact:

Alla Lapidus
Moonlight Media Ltd.
Tel: +44 (0) 20 7250 4770
Email: alla@moonlightmedia.co.uk

Notes to Editors:

Barchester Green Investment Ltd is the UK's longest established Independent Financial Adviser (IFA) specialising in socially responsible, environmental and ethical investment. Established in 1985, Barchester Green has been advising both individuals and companies, with 4,000 clients and in excess of £120 million under management. Barchester Green provides a complete range of services, including:

• Individual and company pension management
• Mortgages
• Life assurance
• Wealth management
• Specialist tax advice
• Trustee investment policy advice to charities.

Restructured in 2008 to become a partnership, it is wholly owned by the advisers and the administrators, with a limit of 20% on the shareholdings for any one partner to ensure a democratic structure. The company is committed to donating a fixed percentage of its annual profits to charity and social enterprise businesses. It is a founder member of the Ethical Investment Association (EIA), an association for financial advisors in the ethical arena, and of UKSIF, the sustainable energy and finance association. For more information on Barchester Green please visit http://www.barchestergreen.co.uk

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