Financial Planners said that the COP26 conference will have a disruptive impact on financial services and usher in new regulation.
Richard Gillham, Financial Planner at Progeny, said that COP26 has direct relevance for Financial Planners and is likely to accelerate trends in place and usher in new regulation.
He told Financial Planning Today: “Financial Planning is a long-term pursuit, and the best Financial Planners take a long-term view. The longer the timeframe, the broader the potential range of outcomes – therefore commitments coming out of COP26 that reduce the level of uncertainty will benefit Planners and their clients.
“A clear roadmap to net-zero and visibility of the costs will enable Financial Planners to work more effectively with their clients and ensure the level of climate change risk in their investment portfolios lines up with their attitude to risk.”
Daniel Wiltshire, actuary and IFA at Wiltshire Wealth, said he hopes the COP26 conference will help people “put their money where their mouth is” and consider climate change more closely when it comes to their pensions and investments.
He said: "This is a real opportunity to address the global climate crisis. It's encouraging to see that general awareness and concern regarding climate change is increasing. Hopefully this will now start to translate into changes in behaviour.
“But to be effective, people need to understand which changes will have the biggest impact. For example, studies show that investing your pension in sustainable funds is far more efficient for reducing your carbon footprint than eating less meat. Relatively modest lifestyle adjustments are all well and good, but to make a real difference, people need to put their money where their mouth is.”
There are several items on the COP26 agenda that Financial Planners are keeping a close eye on.
Particular areas Mr Gillham said Financial Planners should pay attention to amongst the agenda items for COP26 included the impact of personal pensions in the transition to lower carbon futures, government action that meets science-based targets for policy, commitments to help improve the accuracy of climate-based data, and commitments to accelerate demand and investment in green technologies.
Mr Gillham said that the role personal pensions can play in a lower carbon future was of particular interest to him.
He said: “There is an opportunity for clients to engage more with how their money is effectively working behind the scenes. Many of the default managed funds owned by clients finance unsustainable companies so they can switch to investments that are aligned with their values.”
Quilter chief executive Paul Feeney has also been closely watching developments at COP26 and called for Governments to come to an agreement on consistent climate related disclosures for investments.
Last week Quilter signed the Global Investor Statement on the Climate Crisis. The statement has been signed by over 700 investors representing over $52trn in assets. It lists a set of policy recommendations that must be implemented swiftly to manage climate risk and channel trillions of dollars to address the climate crisis.
Paul Feeney, chief executive of Quilter, said: “Climate change is one of the most pressing challenges facing humanity today, and without serious ambition from governments around the world we risk catastrophic changes to the Earth’s climate system.
“To avoid the worst impacts of climate change, the IPCC has identified the need to keep global temperature increases well below 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels, with a focus on 1.5 degrees.
“Investors need to be singing from the same hymn sheet right across the world, which means having access to consistent climate related disclosures across all asset classes and regions that are comparable and reliable. This is where governments have a vital role in working to reach these agreements on climate reporting on a global scale.”
However, not all Financial Planners were as positive that the COP26 conference could lead to any change for the financial services industry.
Martin Bamford, Financial Planner at Informed Choice, said that he is not expecting any changes for Financial Planners as a result of the conference.
He said: "I'm not expecting to see anything arising directly from COP26 that will change the Financial Planning landscape. That said, there is a growing need for urgent change if we are to collectively avert catastrophic climate change. The longer it is left before action is taken, the more significant that action will need to be. I hope we do not simply hear another round of warnings and pledges, but instead see immediate decisions and action.
"Financial Planners should have climate change at the heart of their planning strategies, as there is no doubt that the planet is going to change a great deal over the next 20-30 years. The way in which we live today is unsustainable and taking individual actions today, such as future-proofing homes to be more energy efficient, will pay off in the long-term.
"Client conversations we are having include switching to zero emission vehicles, investing in carbon neutral heating and energy solutions, and thinking lifestyle choices such as overseas holidays."
• On a lighter note, special points go to CNN lead political journalist Wolf Blitzer who got his Scottish cities confused and set up his trademark Situation Room in Edinburgh rather than Glasgow.
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