Sustainable societies, it's happening

With their proposals for a European Super League, greedy football owners tried to shoe horn their own power for more money and take away the heart of what football was about
Peter McGahan

I WAS fortunate to sit with a world-class high performance Olympic coach who gave me one great tip he thought bridged from sport to life and business.

Never be too self-congratulatory or self-deprecating. You will miss the learning. You win a race or lose a race, and pat yourself on the back, or sulk. In reality, the most important issue is to ask one question whether you have won or not:

“What did I learn from that?” is a sure-fire way to always get the best out of any situation.

Last week, greedy football owners tried to shoe horn their own power for more money, and take away the heart of what football was about.

The magic of a father from his non-league side holding his two children’s hands as they walk into Anfield, Old Trafford or Stamford Bridge to watch an FA cup tie. They have their tickets clasped in their hand, and a belly full of chips as the stadium opens up in front of them.

The electricity of the crowd and cheering captures their heart. The father makes a memory they can smile about long after he is gone, and the children become addicted to sport, yearning to somehow become the next Rashford, Dalglish or Shearer.

That is a sustainable society, and the elite wanted to rob society of that right.

If there is one thing we can learn from that is how that sustainability also works in our lives and business/government.

For a simple example, poorly grown, non-nutritious food is allowed to be sold and is signed off and consumed, the result of which has vast knock on impacts on health and wellbeing, death rates and strains on health services, all of which need funding. The result is a negative feedback loop, the sort of thing you see when water goes down a drain.

Society has grasped that now, and my last two columns on sustainability could be followed by another 10 highlighting that.

Financial advisers have been slow to talk to investors about sustainability, with just 16 per cent of people receiving information unprompted.

Society has also moved to vote with their feet. Some 77 per cent of investors state clearly they wouldn’t invest against their personal beliefs, with just 23 per cent stating they would do so for extra returns.

The most important objective on that basis, is for all investors to fully understand sustainable investments, something we know they do not.

Nearly half (47 per cent) of society is focused on sustainable investments simply because of their wider environmental impact, but of course, as has been found out of late, returns have been very positive indeed, and in what becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, 42 per cent were attracted because they feel the returns will be higher too.

Some 70 per cent of society believe a company’s impact on communities is of key importance with environmental issues just behind that so you can see how the choice of where to invest is important.

A staggering 33 per cent of investors in Singapore and the USA would invest against their personal beliefs and values, putting their profit before a sustainable society.

Baby boomers aged 51-70, as well as those aged 71 and above, actually lead the way here. They are, for the most part unwilling to budge, and so stick to their personal beliefs first – 80 per cent and 84 per cent respectively.

The attraction to sustainable investing for higher returns is also greater with investors who are measured as ‘savvy’.

Naturally, this market will become greater, the more society starts to take control back from the greed of corporations, and in particular, when financial advisers begin to communicate it better. In Europe / UK financial advisers appear to be the least forthcoming with sustainable investing.

As we slowly grasp that non-tax paying organisations who pay poorly aren’t classed as a circular economy, we not only reverse unnecessary investments and pressurise their share price, but we also use that money to fund those organisations who assist with sustainability, driving their share prices up, supporting the UN sustainable development goals, and in turn making our own pensions more sustainable in upward value.

:: Peter McGahan is chief executive officer of independent financial adviser Worldwide Financial Planning, which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. If you have a sustainable investment query, call Darren McKeever on 028 6863 2692 or email or visit

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