Interview: Penny Shepherd

Big charities should put their names to financial services products, says the chief executive of UK Sustainable Investment and Finance

Penny Shepherd
Penny Shepherd

Large, well-known charities should become actively involved in the provision of financial services, according to Penny Shepherd.

Shepherd is head of sustainable investment organisation UK Sustainable Investment and Finance, which runs its second National Ethical Investment Week in November.

If big charities put their names to investment products, she says, it would increase their own income and help to channel investment to other organisations with similar ideals.

She says the concept is one of many ways in which the third sector could become more involved in finance provision. "There is scope for many parts of the sector to get involved in this, from charities with well-known brands to existing mutual societies and specialist third sector finance providers," she says. "The major charities have the supporter base and the marketing ability. But they would need partners to create and manage the product."

She says one of the main barriers to such arrangements would be reputational risk. "There's not much trust in the financial industry," she says. "There would be worries about preserving reputation."

But she says existing products, such as charity credit cards and the bonds and ISAs offered by Charity Bank, have shown that it can be done successfully.

Shepherd believes the sector could also act as a watchdog for the financial industry. Third sector involvement would help change the culture of the City, she says, and charities could highlight examples of bad practice.

"The third sector has spent too long thinking about how to get money out of the financial sector," she says. "The time has come to become one of the arbiters of how capital is provided.

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