Investors have a chance to clean up

Ethical funds: if you want to support good causes and steer clear of harmful activities, there are plenty of vehicles to choose from

YOU DON'T have to be a stock market investor to face ethical dilemmas about your money. Funds left on deposit at the traditional banks can be used in any way they want, and most have a record of lending to oppres- sive regimes and being involved in reclaiming Third World debt.

The solution is to leave your savings with a building society, the Co- operative Bank, or one of the specialist organisations set up to use savers' cash in a constructive way.

The Co-Op adopted an ethical policy in 1992. It will not, for example, invest in a regime with a poor human rights record, or finance organisations involved in the arms trade. It also refuses to use its funds to speculate against the pound as it believes this is inappropriate for a British clearing bank using the deposits of British customers.

If you want to invest in shares, your money will be invested in a posted fund. The manager only invests in companies that meet specific ethical criteria.

While these vary from fund to fund, there are some common areas. For example, nearly all avoid companies involved in the arms trade and the tobacco industry.

"You will often find that those taking a positive ethical stance will also invest in companies which benefit or do not harm the environment," says Stephen Hine at Ethical Investment Research Services.

Ethical funds often adopt negative criteria to avoid having holdings in such activities as gambling, alcohol, tobacco, pornography, extensive animal testing and the nuclear industry.

Some, including most of the environmental funds, also have positive criteria such as investing in companies with good employment practices - those that offer their workforce good pay and conditions.

What's on offer?

Co-Operative Bank, 0345 252000. Ranks highly in customer surveys for its current account, which offers a telephone banking service. There is also a range of savings accounts and Tessas.

Building societies. Don't speculate savers' money on the markets and don't lend to overseas governments.

Triodos Bank, 0117-973 9339. Offers savings accounts and Tessas and lets you use your money to back specific projects.

Shared Interest, 0191-233 9100. A co-operative lending society that passes on your money to small projects in developing countries.

uk ethical trusts - who to contact

Abbey Life Ethical, 01202401139. Minimum investment: pounds 1,000 lump sum.

Aberdeen Prolific Ethical, 0800 136734. Min pounds 25 monthly, pounds 500 lump sum.

Albert E Sharp Ethical, 0121-200 2244. Min pounds 1,000 lump sum.

All Churches Amity, 01452 305958. Min pounds 25 monthly, pounds 500 lump sum.

CF Banner Real Life, 01342 717917. Min pounds 50 monthly, pounds 1,000 lump sum.

CIS Environ, 0800 868500. Min pounds 50 monthly, pounds 500 lump sum.

City Financial Acorn Ethical, 0171- 556 8800. Min pounds 50 monthly, pounds 1,000 lump sum.

Clerical Medical Evergreen, 0345 772233. Min pounds 40 monthly, pounds 500 lump sum.

Credit Suisse Fellowship, 0171-426 2929. Min pounds 50 monthly, pounds 1,000 lump sum.

Environmental Investor Fund (TSB,) 01264 345678. Min pounds 500 lump sum.

Equitable Ethical, 0171-606 6611. Min pounds 40 monthly, pounds 500 lump sum.

Framlington Health, 0345 660184. Min pounds 50 monthly, pounds 500 lump sum.

Friends Provident Stewardship (International, Income and Stewardship), 0800 000080. Min pounds 100 monthly, pounds 1,000 lump sum.

Friends Provident Investment Trust, 01392 412122. Min pounds 25 monthly, pounds 250 lump sum.

Henderson Ethical, 0800 832832. Min pounds 50 monthly, pounds 500 lump sum.

International Green Investment Trust (Jupiter), 0171-314 4772. Min pounds 30 monthly, pounds 250 lump sum.

Jupiter Ecology, 0171-314 4772. Min pounds 50 monthly, pounds 500 lump sum.

NPI Global Care Fund & Income Fund, 01222 472111. Min pounds 50 monthly, pounds 1,000 lump sum.

Scottish Equitable Ethical, 0800 454422. Min pounds 30 monthly, pounds 500 lump sum.

Sovereign Income Fund, 0800 435435. Min pounds 50 monthly, pounds 2,000 lump sum.

Standard Life UK Ethical, 0800 333353. Min pounds 50 monthly, pounds 1,000 lump sum

Sun Life Ethical, 0171-606 7788. Min pounds 50 monthly, pounds 3,000 lump sum.

United Charities Ethical (Family Assurance Friendly Society), 0800 521721. Min pounds 25 monthly, pounds 500 lump sum.

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