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Ethical investments matter, Archbishop of Wales tells charities

by Sam Hailes

Ethical investment has become the business of us all, the Archbishop of Wales said at a charity seminar in Cardiff on Thursday.

Welcoming the Governor of the Bank of England's vow in his recent Mansion House address to stop the "ethical drift" of City traders and put an end the "age of irresponsibility", Dr Barry Morgan said ethics applied as much to how we invested our money as how we led our lives.

"Ethics govern our behaviour, and if we wish to be consistent, then all aspects of our lives should reflect our values; and that applies as much to what we do with our money, as to how we run our personal lives" the Archbishop said.

Reflecting on the social, moral and ethical dilemmas facing charity trustees Dr Morgan said, "For those who have been putting principles before profit for years, to hear terms such as ethics, responsibility and personal accountability trip off the tongue of the most powerful financier in the country onto the front pages of all the national newspapers, is very heartening. 

"It shows more than anything else that ethical investment and investing ethically are no longer the preserve of the 'not-for-profit' few on the fringes of finance - they are the business of those slap bang in the mainstream too."

The Archbishop was delivering the keynote speech at investment manager Brewin Dolphin Wales' charity seminar.

He warned that charity supporters expected everything in which the organisation was involved to reflect its values, including its financial investments. Failure to do that, he said, risked alienating supporters and damaging its reputation.

"Charity supporters (and church members) quite reasonably expect that everything the organisation is engaged in will reflect its values.  Not to consider this in relation to investment would be hypocritical, and risk alienating our supporters."

He said it was "counter-productive" to invest in things which undermine the Church's "aims and objectives." 

He also welcomed Pope Francis' call in his June encyclical for the global markets to address climate change by pressurising business to operate in environmentally-responsible ways.

The Archbishop acknowledged the complexities of investment and the dilemmas facing trustees, saying that the Church in Wales, which has had an ethical investment policy since 2002, sought help from experts, such as the Church Investors Group. But he denied there was a conflict of interest between investing ethically and getting the best return on your money. 

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