Advisers divided on Big Issue’s planned fund manager launch

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Advisers are divided on whether plans for The Big Issue magazine’s investment subsidiary to launch a socially responsible fund management business will prove a viable investment case.

Big Issue Invest, which was founded in 2005 to provide social investment and has raised £20m so far, plans to launch a fund management business by the end of 2013. 

The Big Issue Invest Fund Management will offer social investment funds for retail and institutional investors.

The group is seeking a chief executive with both fund management and direct investment experience to head the new venture. The candidate will also oversee the group’s other investment and loan operations, such as public retail funds with partners.

Charles Stanley head of investment research Ben Yearsley says there are major challenges for social investments.

He says: “It can be a difficult area to put an actual investment case forward. Generally it can be muddled and try to do too many things with one product.”

Skerritts head of investment Andy Merricks says: “There seems to be a lot of talk about social investment. 

“The principle is fine but when it comes down to it, I think there are very few people who would invest purely on an SRI basis.”

However, Investment Quorum chief executive Lee Robertson points out the strengths of The Big Issue business. He says: “The team behind The Big Issue and co-founder John Bird are incredibly punchy and have rolled out a very successful  business model internationally.

“I suspect if they think there is a market for it, there will be.”