Do you care how your money is used? Jacqui Furneaux does. The adventurer has ridden around the world on a classic motorbike and says her experiences have helped her focus on making sure that she’s comfortable with whatever she does.
And that means when it comes to money, she wants to make sure that her cash is used to help people.
“I read a lot in the news about how people’s savings were being used for arms and other unpleasant things,” Jacqui said. “I thought there must be a better way.”
A better way?
Jacqui’s not alone. More people are questioning what happens to their savings. New research suggests two-thirds of investors would like their money to support profitable companies which make a positive contribution to society and the environment.
The survey published to coincide with Good Money Week reveals that the majority of investors have never been offered ethical or sustainable investment opportunities.
Bevis Watts, boss of Triodos Bank which published the survey, said: “An overwhelming majority of UK investors know they can exert a positive influence on our wider society by simply channelling their investments into things that benefit not only themselves but also the world around them.”
Meanwhile separate research shows that savers reckon that buying ethically-sourced goods is the best way to use your money for the good of society.
The survey, from Rathbone Greenbank Investments, says other popular ways to have a positive impact include boycotting brands or companies who don’t uphold ethical standards and putting a pension into ethical funds.
A two-wheeled adventure
Jacqui Furneaux began her seven year motorbike trek across the globe when she was 48. She rode her classic Royal Enfield bike through 20 countries, including India, Thailand, Singapore and Ecuador.
“I was exploring, having fun,” she says. “It was great fun after a life of toeing the line, clock-watching, and keeping to rules and regulations as a nurse and mother.”
The life wasn’t easy, she says, and Jacqui gave up the comforts of home to often sleep outside and get by cheaply, living on £300 monthly income she earned from an investment in a neighbour’s backpacking business back home in England.
“I found it hard to adjust to to start with, but after a while I really liked the life and the freedom it bought. And I learned an awful lot on the way.”
But then one of her grown-up daughters flew out to see her in Ecuador. “She told me that they missed me and wanted me home,” Jacqui admits. “It made me realise it was time to go home.”
The 67-year-old now lives in Bristol but hasn’t stopped heading off on her bike. This week she heads off to the south of France to stay with friends for a few weeks.
The investment she made in the backpacking business before her adventure paid off and left her with a few thousand to invest. She put it in the Triodos Sustainable Pioneer fund which invests in firms that focus on sustainability issues such as climate protection and healthy living.
In the meantime she’s published a book about her adventures.
Making an impact
More and more people say they care about the world around them and want to do something about it. But while four out of five people say they try to help the environment by recycling or reducing their household waste, just a third have considered investing as a way to contribute to a more sustainable society, according to Schroders.
Yet backing businesses that do good rather than those that are involved activities you are uncomfortable with, such as arms, drugs or trafficking, can make much more difference than simply recycling at home.
There are a growing number of so-called impact funds that invest positively in areas such as infrastructure, social housing, renewable energy and healthcare.
But part of the problem is that not enough people know about them, says Rebecca O’Connor, co-founder of Good With Money. “There is a chicken and egg problem with demand for impact investments. If investors know about them, they want them, but it is hard to demand something if you don’t even know it is there.
“It is up to the investment industry – advisers and platforms, to make the benefits of impact investing more apparent to their customers.”