What if pensions reflected the values of citizens?

August 13, 2020
What if pensions had intention?
What if people were proud of where their pension money was going?

Make My Money Matter (MMMM) has announced today, June 30th, they are launching a movement calling for the trillions of pounds invested in UK pensions to build a better world. The people-powered campaign is fighting for a world where we know where our money goes. A world where we demand that the financial system transforms to put people and the planet on par with profit.

The Nossa team explored what the launch means and how MMMM aims to create change in the pension industry.

How did MMMM get started?

Make My Money Matter was set up to respond to two twin challenges.

Firstly, to help combat the growing funding gap to deliver the Sustainable Development Goals, to meet the Paris Climate Agreement, and to build clean, green infrastructure across the UK.

Second, to address the huge disconnect between individuals and their money. Over 2019, we saw a dramatic rise in citizens making positive, proactive decisions to align their actions with their values, particularly around the climate agenda. But what continued was an ongoing dichotomy between our values and where our money is invested, meaning we have vegans invested in the meat industry, medical professionals invested in tobacco, and climate activists invested in fossil fuels.

MMMM was set up in collaboration with sustainable finance advocates, impact and institutional investors, creative campaigners, PR and communications professionals, the private sector and government to help empower people to better align their money with their values, and ensure much more money is flowing towards investments which build a better world.

Why start with pensions?

There is £3 trillion invested in UK pensions. Meanwhile, the majority of people, 68%, want their investments to consider people and the planet alongside profit. Unfortunately, a significant portion of the pensions are invested in weapons or in fossil fuels. Many people would be shocked to find out they are in fact inventors in these sectors. By increasing awareness of the disconnect between what people want pension funds to be invested in and what they are actually invested in, the campaign can help us collectively demand that money be invested in building a healthier future.

Investing sustainably is 27 times more powerful in reducing your carbon footprint than going vegan, taking fewer flights, and using less water combined.

Changing a system is a huge goal! What is MMMM’s strategy to maximize impact?

MMMM is using a three-part strategy.

Part 1: MMMM is leading a public-facing campaign. They are telling the story of how UK pensions can create a better future while not compromising on financial returns.

Part 2: By building relationships with organisations including businesses, universities, NGOs, and more, MMMM will work with their pension funds to align their organisational values with the pension’s investments.

Part 3: The organisation will lead advocacy for industry reform. Via signing the Make My Money Matter Manifesto, key partners can join the call for high priority, high industry reforms that can transform the system from within.

How can it be that the pensions of scientists researching cancer treatments help fund the tobacco industry?

Who is the team?

MMMM was originally founded by Richard Curtis (writer, director, UN SDG Advocate and driving force behind Comic Relief) and Jo Corlett (former No. 10 and DFID Special Adviser). It is currently being led by Tony Burdon, CEO, and David Hayman, Campaign Director. They are partnered with a number of organizations working to promote sustainable investing including Business in the Community, the World Wildlife Foundation, ShareAction, Comic Relief and The Impact Investing Institute.

What exactly will you be campaigning the pension industry to do?

CEO Tony Burdon shares the campaign’s 3 main components:

“First is about the savers. We are asking that pension funds be required to tell sovers how their money is invested and what that means for people and the planet. Second pension funds must be clear about how they’re taking environmental, social and governance risks into account. Finally, all pension funds must ensure their portfolios are consistent with the Paris Agreement.”

In one year's time, what does the team hope to have achieved via MMMM? What about in 5 years?

By this time next year, we hope to have all UK pension funds committed to net zero carbon emissions as a key first step on the journey to Paris Alignment. In five years time, we hope all savers in the UK have pensions to be proud of!

I want to do my part, what can I do?

If you are an individual:

  • Your Employer: Ask your employer whether your company pension is invested sustainably, if not, ask for change.
  • Your pension: Contact your pension provider asking where your money is invested, what impact it is having, and if it can be more sustainably invested. If not, ask for a more sustainable option.
  • Act now: Sign a petition calling for all pension funds to have a positive impact on people and planet, including achieving Net Zero Emissions.

If you represent an organisation:

  • Mission: Align your pension with your mission and values – make sure your pension supports the things your company or organisation works for and believes in.
  • Employees: Empower your employees – tell them where their pension is invested, engage in a dialogue with them about where it could go in the long term, and act on it.
  • Invest in people and planet: Ask the people who run your pension scheme to consider people and planet when they’re investing.

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If you are interested in learning more about MMMM, visit their website, consider signing their petition to call on UK pension funds to reinvest, or RSVP to their launch event on June 30th, 2020.