The Roadmap to ESG - Part 8

In the final article of our ESG Roadmap series, developed with research firm NextWealth, we review what we’ve discovered and highlight some of the key takeaways from our in-depth interviews with financial advice professionals.

The articles take a step-by-step approach to developing a robust ESG offering that complements the key principles set out in the FCA’s existing ESG strategy.

Key takeaways from our research

Your business

  • Think about your firm’s credentials in the ESG space – how does the way you do business stack up against the principles of ESG?
  • Don’t just focus on environmental – think about diversity and inclusion. It’s a topic that the FCA has stated it is actively looking at. How accessible as a firm are you to all members of society? What about your website – does it reflect an accessible image?
  • Question providers about how they operate – for example, some are working hard to become more sustainable by using tech to reduce reliance on paper.

ESG Strategy

  • Agree a strategy before you start a process that looks at investment decisions.
  • Think about how you want to operate as a firm so you can be proactive with clients about what you are offering.
  • A strategy should not take too long to develop – the process that follows is likely to be the time-consuming part.

Investment choices

  • Don’t underestimate the time it will take you to set up ESG investment options, particularly if you plan to do research and run portfolios in-house.

“We’ve spent the past 18 months looking at ESG investment propositions and we are not convinced about many of them. We have taken on a graduate to focus full time on the research aspect.”
Adrian Murphy,
Murphy Wealth

  • The firms we spoke to who have outsourced their ESG portfolios to specialist DFMs have got up and running much faster than firms who opt to manage investments in-house.
  • Planners who outsource say any extra cost to use a specialist is countered by the value it offers – giving their clients access to specialist expertise plus allowing the planners more time to see more clients and focus on their own specialism: planning.

“We have ESG investment providers on our investment panel so we aren’t reliant on just one. I would rather trust the experts to do the ESG work as they have entire teams of specialists focused on the issues.”
Roy Coulson,
Attivo Group

Client conversations

  • Thorough preparation is essential before introducing ESG into the discussion.
  • A badly-constructed questionnaire can lead to difficult conversations and create a misleading picture of what a client really wants.

“I estimate that an ESG discussion will add around 20-30 minutes per client. Across multiple clients, that’s a lot of additional time to factor in.”
Dave Watson,
Throgmorton Financial Services

  • In firms with multiple planners, it helps to agree the questionnaire centrally and have all planners use the same one, rather than leaving individuals to ‘freestyle’. Adopting a ‘best practice’ approach will ensure all clients receive the same standard of service.
  • Don’t underestimate how much additional time having the ESG conversation will add to a review meeting

“Within five years, ESG shouldn’t be a discussion we have with clients – it should be a given. This is the direction of travel”
Adrian Murphy,
Murphy Wealth


  • The FCA has a well-defined strategy for ESG and is focused on improving access to responsible investing for all.
  • They expect financial advice professionals to play their part in encouraging clients to invest responsibly.
  • They are not just focused on environmental and sustainable investments – they want to see firms demonstrate socially responsible practices themselves, including more diversity and inclusion.

We hope you have found this series of articles helpful

We would like to thank all the financial advice professionals who gave up their time to help with this research.