View more on these topics

Correspondent’s week

This week by Tim Webb, a business reporter covering energy for the Independent on Sunday

Companies such as car rental firm Avis, housebuilder Berkeley Homes and Radio Taxis Group have already signed up for the services of the CarbonNeutral Company. For a fee, they get that warm feeling knowing that they are helping to save the planet. “But where’s the financial incentive?” the sceptical business journalist in me asks.

Companies which are carbon-neutral can tick all those pesky corporate governance boxes and ethical investors can feel comfortable about buying shares in them, Shopley replied. Ah, ethical investors. I used to be one of those, I told him. Six years ago, I bought 5,000-worth of shares in Henderson’s ethical unit trust. They are now worth around 4,000. The fund has been renamed the Industries of the Future fund but quite how far in the future I will get my money back is not clear. Five, 50, 100 years?

At a recent dinner for the renewable energy industry, I met a director of a solar power company which was one of these industries of the future invested in by Henderson. (I didn’t give her a hard time, honest.) The dinner was a bit disappointing. Everyone, not least Tony Blair, has been banging on about building new nuclear reactors. So you would have thought the renewable industry would want to use this occasion to state its case to the media as a balance to the pro-nuclear lobbying machine. But it seemed quite happy with the paltry amount of state subsidy it receives for things like wave and solar power, rather than asking for more.

I told two anti-nuclear Greenpeace campaigners about it. One of them wasn’t surprised. “The renewable energy industry has been given nothing for so long, they are so pleased to be getting some Government help, they will not ask for any more,” they said. More depressing was that I was only one of two journalists who turned up for the event.

Next up, off to the London headquarters of energy regulator Ofgem to interview chief executive Alistair Buchanan for the business section profile. He seemed a decent chap. I asked him about soaring gas and electricity prices and he mentioned that he knew of a steel manufacturer which is shutting down for one or two months this winter because of high energy prices.

I spent Friday tracking down this unnamed company and eventually found out that it was Kent-based Thames Steel. However, its finance director assured me that the main reason it was shutting down was to fit a new rolling mill. So it was not the story I was looking for but a rare piece of good news for the UK steel industry, which has been starved of investment for years.

A spokesman for Community, a union which represents steelworkers, confirmed the finance director’s story. He could tell I was disappointed – good news doesn’t get my news editor nearly so excited as bad news. Rightly or wrongly, that’s the way it is.

Any Out of Contexts or Diary stories? Send them to Diary editor Paul McMillan, email: or telephone: 020 7970 4776


Director changes at Preferred Mortgages

Preferred Mortgages appoints director of sales and marketing and director of operations with immediate affect.John Webster, joint managing director, has decided to leave the company to pursue other opportunities while joint managing director George Patellis is leaving to return to America.Head of sales Roger Taylor becomes director of sales and marketing and chief operating officer […]

‘Pension target is unlikely to be met’

The Government’s long-term target of achieving 40 per cent state and 60 per cent private pension provision is unlikely to be achieved, according to the Pensions Policy Institute. A study carried out by the PPI and the Nuffield Foundation concludes that the state is likely to remain the major provider for many people as only […]

Fidelity ShareNetwork cuts costs of online trading

Fidelity International is slashing the cost of its online trading through ShareNetwork, which is being opened up to non-Fidelity clients.Costs for online trades will be cut from 13.50 to 9, regardless of size or frequency of transaction.Investors who join ShareNetwork will also receive full personal membership of Crest, the online share registration and settlement service […]

Bee says A-Day opportunities will only be enjoyed by ‘chubby cats’

A-Day represents a massive opportunity for advisers but they should forget about winning new business from young people on low in- comes, says Scottish Life head of pensions Steve Bee. Speaking to a room packed with IFAs at the Institute of Financial Planning conference last week, Bee said advisers should concentrate on the 10 to […]

‘How to…audit your auto-enrolment scheme compliance’

Avoid pension penalties with our auto-enrolment checklist

According to the Pensions Regulator’s annual commentary and analysis report released this month, 785 potential non-compliance cases were referred for investigation, with 23 auto-enrolment compliance notices issued. And they predict that the use of their statutory powers is only going to increase.


News and expert analysis straight to your inbox

Sign up


    Leave a comment


    Why register with Money Marketing ?

    Providing trusted insight for professional advisers.  Since 1985 Money Marketing has helped promote and analyse the financial adviser community in the UK and continues to be the trusted industry brand for independent insight and advice.

    News & analysis delivered directly to your inbox
    Register today to receive our range of news alerts including daily and weekly briefings

    Money Marketing Events
    Be the first to hear about our industry leading conferences, awards, roundtables and more.

    Research and insight
    Take part in and see the results of Money Marketing's flagship investigations into industry trends.

    Have your say
    Only registered users can post comments. As the voice of the adviser community, our content generates robust debate. Sign up today and make your voice heard.

    Register now

    Having problems?

    Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3712

    Lines are open Monday to Friday 9:00am -5.00pm