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THE TOP CLASS WEDNESDAY UPDATE IS FULL OF ANGST

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The gaffer is still enjoying a well-earned break so it’s Steve here on TCWU duties. Hiya. Now, I don’t know about you but I had a magnificent week last week, thanks very much for asking. The past few weeks I’ve been feeling a very tangible sense of information overload, particularly on the old social media what with everything that’s going on in the world.

When I’m faced with constant noise and information overload I start to disengage and retreat from taking any of it in. So retreat I did, and in my week off I took all forms of email, social media and other such modes of cranial-whataboutery off my phone and instead tried to focus completely on having a break. I had some great days out and spent the evenings bingeing on a sehr gut German time-travel, murder-mystery series called Dark. (You should totally check it out.) Come to think of it, I bet the Germans have a specific word for how I was feeling before last week. DataKaput or something.

Anyway, there is an actual reason why I’m beginning your Update like this and that’s because just two days back in the virtual office and I started to think about that sense of overload and disengagement again. This time the thing giving me strife is something that’s omnipresent in our fine sector just now. ESG investment.

  • Go to any home page of one of the big trades. Multiple ESG articles.
  • Any roundup email. I bet there’s an ESG article on there.
  • A recent conference or seminar you’ve been to, virtual or otherwise? I bet there was some ESG content.

Now, on one level something being topical is allowed to be topical. That’s like, literally how it works. But I can’t help but feel that lumping so much nuanced debate, issues and developments into a three-letter amorphous zeitgeist-y blob is potentially counter productive at best and destructive at worst. I reckon we need to get much, much better as separating out the issues. Corporate responsibility is one thing. Sector diversity is another. Matching someone’s ethical beliefs to a portfolio is another. All labelled as ‘ESG’ in some quarters and that’s problematic.

And it’s that last point about matching investment outcomes to personal beliefs that fascinates me the most because it touches on so, so many interconnected issues. In a world of industrialised centralised investment propositions, how do you account for individual beliefs? Is that even the role of the sector? Can technology sit in the middle of this and do clever things? That’s only the start of it and I’m a bit boggled if I’m honest. What do I know? I’m just a guy from Fife who occasionally reads the Guardian. I need to spend some quality time with the experts.

WUNDERBAR LINK STEVE!

Well it’s just incredibly convenient then that on this weeks’ Home Games, I’m going to be hosting a debate with Jeannie Boyle, Executive Director of EQ Investors (fresh off its double-gong action at last weeks’ Money Marketing awards) and Neville White, Head of Responsible and Sustainable Research at EdenTree Investment Management. I’m going to have some difficult questions for them, in a friendly way of course.

ESG-FRIENDLY LINKAGE

  • In other news it’s Schadenfreude agogo as financial advice’s easiest target published its first swing at value assessments the other day. By now I’m sure all the usual jokes have done the rounds on the Twitter. But I wouldn’t know.
  • The other day, our very own Craig Rickman satisfied his London wanderlust by running a marathon round the city in aid of the Samaritans, the lang cat house charity. You can support him here.
  • Your music this week is brought to you by the sad news last week of the passing of Ennio Morricone. Back when I met my wife I pretended to her that my favourite film is Cinema Paradiso in order to give myself an air of sophistication otherwise sorely lacking. Anyway, you can soothe your aching soul by listening to this glorious 4 minutes from an absolutely banging (gently) film score, albeit no Back to the Future of course.

Posted in: #Top Class Wednesday Update  

About Steven Nelson

Insight Director at the lang cat. Bit of this. Bit of that.

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