10 most-popular ethical funds of 2019

by Nina Kelly from Money Observer |

This list of most-bought ethical products is dominated by investment trusts. Find out which ones here.

In a list of the most-bought ethical fund options for 2019, based on customer data from investment platform interactive investor, investment trusts claim the three top spots and take up six places in total in the top 10 table.

Interest in ESG (environment, social and governance) investing has spiked amid greater public concern over climate change, with activists such as Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg helping to keep the “E” in ESG centre stage.

The popularity of investment trusts in the top 10 list from interactive investor, the parent company of Money Observer, could be partly owing to some strategies being very sector specific. For example, Renewables Infrastructure Group (LSE:TRIG), which tops the table, and Greencoat UK Wind (LSE:UKW), in second place, both concentrate on renewable energy, while Syncona (LSE:SYNC), with its focus on life sciences, takes the third slot.

Greencoat manages a portfolio of onshore and offshore UK wind farms, while the Renewables Group offers exposure to wind and solar energy, as well as battery storage.

Royal London Sustainable World Trust, which invests in growing, innovative companies that have a positive impact for society and show leadership in ESG management, sits in the middle of the table in fourth place. It is followed by Impax Environmental Markets (LSE:IEM) in fifth, then Stewart Investors Asia Pacific Leaders, which as its names suggests invests in businesses that conduct the majority of their activity across Asia, Japan and Australasia. Bluefield Solar Income Fund (LSE:BSIF) claims the seventh spot.

Lower down the list, JLEN Environmental Assets Group (LSE:JLEN) is in eighth place, while Rathbone Ethical Bond, a repeat winner of the Money Observer Best Ethical/SRI Bond Fund award, secures the ninth spot.

A sole ETF, iShares Global Clean Energy ETF (LSE:INRG), completes the top 10 table.

Rebecca O’Keeffe, head of investment at interactive investor, suggests that 2019 “has been a year where everyone has finally woken up to the impact of climate change”, meaning that “investors are flocking to investments that offer not only a sustainable return for investors, but more importantly a sustainable future for the planet.”

All 10 funds in the table feature in interactive investor’s ethical iinvestments long list of more than 140 socially responsible and environmental funds, trusts and ETFs, while some feature in the ACE 30, a rated funds list, where each everything is assigned a category – Avoids, Considers or Embraces –  to help aid investor selection.

This year, Money Observer launched a hypothetical ethical fund-based model portfolio for investors who would like to bring a more sustainable and responsible approach to their holdings.

Most-bought ethical options in 2019

Rank Funds/investment trusts AIC sector 'ACE' ethical investing style 1-year return
as at 11 December (%)
3-year return
as at 11 December (%)
1 Renewables Infrastructure Group (LSE:TRIG) Specialist: Infrastructure - Renewable Energy Embraces 23.1 39.2
2 Greencoat UK Wind (LSE:UKW) Specialist: Infrastructure - Renewable Energy Embraces 23.9 44.2
3 Syncona (LSE:SYNC) Specialist: Biotechnology & Healthcare Embraces -15.1 72.9
4 Royal London Sustainable World Mixed Investment 40-85% Shares Considers 21.5 48
5 Impax Environmental Markets (LSE:IEM) Specialist: Environmental Embraces 23 53.3
6 Stewart Investors Asia Pacific Leaders Specialist Considers 3.1 22.3
7 Bluefield Solar Income Fund (LSE:BSIF) Specialist: Infrastructure - Renewable Energy Embraces 19.3 51.5
8 JLEN Environmental Assets Group (LSE:JLEN) Specialist: Infrastructure - Renewable Energy Embraces 21 34.6
9 Rathbone Ethical Bond Sterling bond Considers 12 21.5
10 iShares Global Clean Energy UCITS ETF N/A Embraces 24.7 40.6

Notes: Top 10 compiled from data on most-bought ethical options to end of Nov 2019.

This article was originally published in our sister magazine Money Observer. Click here to subscribe.

These articles are provided for information purposes only. Occasionally, an opinion about whether to buy or sell a specific investment may be provided by third parties. The content is not intended to be a personal recommendation to buy or sell any financial instrument or product, or to adopt any investment strategy as it is not provided based on an assessment of your investing knowledge and experience, your financial situation or your investment objectives. The value of your investments, and the income derived from them, may go down as well as up. You may not get back all the money that you invest. The investments referred to in this article may not be suitable for all investors, and if in doubt, an investor should seek advice from a qualified investment adviser.

Full performance can be found on the company or index summary page on the interactive investor website. Simply click on the company's or index name highlighted in the article.

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