Sigh. After many months of being careful, I started to do stuff again last week. Edinburgh is generally pretty risk averse and most folk wear masks in shops and so on, but not at lunch events like the one I went to on Friday for obvious reasons. Spool forward four days and here I am, in the Schrödinger zone between a positive lateral flow test and waiting for a PCR result, with a crappy throat and all the rest of it. There are some lessons here about ditching strategies that work, risk appetite and probably something that could apply to portfolio management, but frankly I’m in no mood to try and work it out.

‘Rona or no ‘rona, there’s an Update to do and it’s best just to get on with it. This is – obviously – the week of COP26 and we can’t let that go by without doing a bit more ESG stuff.

First up, this is a good chance to shill our paper from last year – Crossing The ESG Event Horizon – ably written by our very own Steve Nelson on the ESG space. It’s free to read and you can find it here (opens online flipbook).

Second, I want to go sideways for a moment, Cancerian that I am, and talk about marketing stuff. Whenever I’m called on to do some marketing work for a client – you know, when all the proper agencies are busy sourcing new directional thick-rimmed eyewear or getting full-sleeve company tattoos – one of the tests I apply to whatever straplines, mission statements, values or whatever they’ve got is to turn it round on itself. If the result is so obviously stupid as to be laughable then the statement is no good. So, for example, if a firm likes to say its purpose is to be “customer-centric” I like to turn that around and say “we don’t give a **** about customers.” That’s silly, and so’s the purpose statement.

The legend that is Mike Barrett said something similar to me yesterday – in prelapsarian pre-‘rona times – about ESG. Environmental, Social and Governmental (ESG: putting the ‘mental’ in ‘governmental’, sorry about that). Most investment firms and many advisers would say that they are in favour of investments which positively impact the environment, that work towards better social outcomes and which are well governed. What happens when we turn those around?

E – we only invest in companies which will destroy the environment in which we live, work and, er, make investments. Because short-term is how we like it. Quick, to the spaceships!

S – we only invest in companies which really try to harm the society in which we live, because that usually ends well.

G – we only invest in companies with truly heinously bad governance. We like it to be exciting!

You get the point. As we read about firms looking after $130 trillion signing up to trying to limit emissions, it’s worth remembering that the converse of that E, S and G is as silly as saying your core value is that you care about your customers.

Ah well. Stuff being nonsensical never stopped anyone really. Certainly never stopped me. I’m off for a lie down.


  • You know that Tom McPhail chap? Tall fellow, rides bikes a lot? Well, just before he joined us at the lang cat, he did an independent review of the Money and Pension Service for DWP, and it was published yesterday. You can read it here, and very good it is too.
  • It’s your last chance to have your voice heard in our State of the Adviser Nation annual survey. Closes on Friday. If you can find 20 minutes, we would hugely appreciate it, and will furnish you with nice things including a free streaming ticket to our conference in February. You can find the survey here.
  • David Inglesfield from IWP will be going live on HomeGames shortly – crucial watching if you are interested in the IFA consolidation market. Natalie will be in the chair, and you can watch on YouTube later if you can’t make it at 12.30pm.
  • One more from us – if you’d like to see Platform Analyser in action and the new stuff that’s been going into it, we have one of our monthly open demos running next Thursday at 11am. Come register here.
  • And your music choice this week is, of course, Ruttolehto sis. Päivättömän Päivän Kansa by the peerless Moonsorrow. If you’re not sure why then spark up your favourite Finnish – English translation engine. Enjoy here.

See you next week, at a distance.