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Allchurches duo to lead IFA drive

Allchurches Investment Management, the fund management arm of Ecclesiastical Insurance, is making a push into the IFA market with the recruitment of its first dedicated sales team.

The fund firm has signed up John Harris and David Fogg to target networks, nationals, discretionaries and regional advisers and it has hired a PR agency to raise brand awareness.

Allchurches is best known for its ethical portfolio, the Amity fund, which was one of the first ethical funds in the domestic market in 1988.

The portfolio has been managed by Sue Round and uses negative and positive screening tools to ensure investments adhere to its mandate. Stocks are rewarded for positive contributions they make to the local community, such as using of renewable energy sources but lose marks for involvement in industries such as armaments, pornography and animal testing or having factories in despotic regimes. If more than 10 per cent of any company’s sales are derived from negative areas it is excluded.

This flexible approach enables Round to gain exposure to markets such as China, which would normally be a no-go area for ethicals. She holds Linmark, a company that oversees conditions in Chinese factories and is employed by multi-nationals concerned over the brand damage of using sweatshops.

Amity and Allchurches’ other funds invest in a blend of asset classes and across different markets.

Round says this flexibility is particularly valuable in markets which are trading sideways. She feels the market is being driven by corporate activity rather than fundamentals. She says: “Signals in the market are mixed and when you see them moving on corporate activity it makes me uneasy. There is a lot of froth around and although interest rates are benign, it is not clear what is going to drive growth.”

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