UK’s first impact-focused retail investment platform launches

UK financial inclusion pioneer Big Issue behind launch

Aberdeen Standard Investments, Nordea Asset Management and Liontrust are just some of the big hitters involved in a first-of-its-kind ESG and impact retail investment platform, launched today by UK anti-poverty social enterprise The Big Issue.

The Big Exchange hosts 36 funds that create positive social and environmental impact and align with the Sustainable Development Goals. Each fund gets a rating to show users the level of positive impact it generates. 

A ‘gold medal’ rating illustrates an “impact leader”, where the majority of the fund makes a positive contribution to the SDGs and reports on impact. A ‘silver medal’ illustrates a fund with a similar level of positive impact but without impact reporting. A ‘bronze medal’ means the fund has a strategic intention to make a positive contribution to the SDGs. 

Some funds on the platform will be ‘unrated’, but will incorporate ESG, says documentation on the Big Exchange. 

3D Investing, recently acquired by Square Mile Investment Consulting and Research, does the impact assessment for the platform. 

Along with choosing different levels of impact, the Big Exchange allows users to choose different levels of investment risk (low, medium and high). It also has readymade “investment bundles” for users, based on different levels of positive impact and financial risk. 

Fund managers currently on the Big Exchange platform include WHEB Asset Management, Union Bancaire Privee and AllianceBernstein. 

In 2015, The Big Issue launched the UK’s first social bond fund with Columbia Threadneedle which has raised £241.6m to date. The fund is now featured on the Big Exchange. 

The minimum investment on the platform is £25 a month. Jill Jackson, Managing Director of the Big Exchange said it has 100 customers on launch, and its target is for 35,000 customers by the end of the first year. It plans marketing through the products of Dennis Publishing, the publisher of Big Issue magazine, and to work with Big Exchange fund managers and its backers such as Deloitte.