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Marlborough gets ethical inspiration from Rowntree trust

Marlborough Fund Managers has established the Marlborough ethical fund, an Oeic that aims for growth by investing in a global portfolio of ethically screened companies.

The funds investment manager is Bob Brown, who has over 35 years experience. He co-founded R C Brown Investment Management in 1990 and has managed ethical investments for charities since 1994. His company has managed a part of the Joseph Rowntree Charitable trust since 1999 and the whole of it since 2003.

The ethical criteria of the Marlborough fund will be based on that used for the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust. It will focus on companies with products and ser vies that are beneficial to society, meet basic needs rather than luxuries, but which also profit in line with economic growth. It is recognised there may be conflicts of interest in these aims, but companies involved in activities and industries such as armaments, alcohol, gambling, pornography and tobacco will be avoided.

The way companies go about their business will also be a determining factor. This will involve consideration of employment conditions, equal opportunities and impact on the environment.

Sufficient diversification of the portfolio, which will be concentrated on a relatively small number of stocks, may mean holding companies that do not meet the ideal ethical standards. However, if improvements are being made or could be implemented, the stock may be held in the portfolio. If not, a decision to dispose of it may be taken.

Statistics from the Investment Management Association show ethical investing is a growing market, with an increase in funds under management, gross retail sales and the number of ethical funds in the market over the last decade. In the third quarter of this year alone gross retail sales of ethical funds stood at #104.9m – higher than the #65.3m that went into the funds during the whole of 1995.

While there is clearly a demand for ethical funds, Marlboroughs concentrated portfolio of stocks that meet its ethical criteria may result in a high level of short-term volatility.

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