The Big Exchange: Big questions answered

Leading figures from The Big Exchange answer crucial questions about the online ethical investment platform

The Big Exchange is an online investment platform co-founded by Big Issue Invest, part of the Big Issue Group.

As more and more people discuss social and environmental issues which have a negative impact on the world, they often ended up looking at what small steps they can to take to make a difference.

The Big Issue has co-founded The Big Exchange, an online ethical investment platform to help people put their money where their mind is.

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Some of the key figures involved in The Big Exchange answered questions about the platform, what it does, and how to get involved.

What makes The Big Exchange different?

If you invested in a traditional way, you would be putting your money into companies with the sole aim of making it grow over time. Your money may be used to invest in industries that, historically, are profitable – think oil, tobacco and arms – but are destructive to the planet or society.

The Big Exchange only offers funds that give positive impact, which makes it unique in the world of investment platforms.

Jill Jackson, managing director of The Big Exchange, said: “One of the main reasons most people don’t invest is that there are too many choices and decisions to make. It can feel totally overwhelming so they decide not to invest at all.

“At The Big Exchange we make investing for good as clear and easy as possible. While we enable people to choose funds that tackle the issues they care about the most, they can feel confident that all of the choices available to them will make a positive difference.”

Will I still make a good return?

Investing for good does not mean you have to make a financial sacrifice – in fact the opposite is proving to be true. Evidence is mounting to show that many funds which invest in sustainable companies perform better on average than the wider market.

Any investment comes with an element of risk attached, but the latest Good Investment Review showed 11 of the 16 UK ethical funds monitored (69 per cent) made higher profits than the sector average, as did 11 of the 19 global ethical funds (58 per cent).

Why invest?

Investing over long periods of time typically generates more of a return than a cash account with little to no interest, potentially earning less than inflation. There will be ups and downs in the market — and it’s usually best to ride these out and not tinker with your investments too much — but usually long-term, careful investors end up with a bigger pot over time.

The Big Exchange makes it possible for you to build a secure financial future for yourself and your family, while also making a positive difference.

Investing is for everyone

If you are new to the world of investing, it can feel quite daunting – but it doesn’t have to be. The Big Exchange is aiming to make investing accessible to everyone. This means replacing the intimidating language that has made finance such an exclusive club for so long.

Nigel Kershaw, chair of The Big Exchange and The Big Issue group, said: “I have a colleague who’s super smart but when people start talking to them about investments they, understandably, get a bit lost. They don’t let me or anyone else get away with complicated words and jargon and will ask questions until it makes sense.

“They’re right to do that – there’s no reason why finance can’t be explained in a way that makes sense to everyone. That is so important for The Big Exchange.”

Can you afford to invest?

Firstly, make sure that you are only using spare cash – money that you do not rely on in your day-to-day life.

If you have credit cards, overdrafts or loans it is important to pay these off first because the interest they charge is likely to be more than what you can make on an investment.

How much should you invest?

You don’t need huge amounts to make a difference. You can start by investing £25 a month, or a lump sum of £100, and over a long period you could see your money grow significantly.

Remember that investments can go down as well as up, and no returns are guaranteed, so only put in what you can afford.

How much will it cost?

The cost is kept as low as possible, with an annual service and administration fee among the lowest on the market at 0.25 per cent. This means that for every £100 on The Big Exchange, you will pay 25p in fees.

On top of this you will pay a fee to the manager running the fund you choose to invest in. This varies depending on who you go with, but typically ranges between 0.8 per cent and 1.8 per cent, per year.

Risk warning: Capital at risk. The value of your fund can go down as well as up. Tax treatment depends on an individual’s circumstances and may be subject to change.