PERSPECTIVE3-5 min to read

The multi-generational family's approach to sustainable investment

What does sustainability mean for investors thinking of their grandchildren and great-grandchildren – and of the world in which these generations will live? One wealthy family shares its views and experiences.


The following comes from an interview conducted in 2020 with the chief executive of a UK-based family office. The interviewee and the family wish to remain anonymous.

In common with many families in their circumstances, the original wealth was created by an earlier generation, and has been added to in later years. At the moment in this family the most active members are the second generation – they're mainly in their late 40s and 50s. The third generation, their children, who are now in early adulthood, are becoming increasingly involved too.

We start from the shared position that you can’t have sustainable financial performance while simultaneously harming the world. No-one wants to squander this wealth. But it’s vital that it doesn’t cause any harm, either.

Arrive at a consensus, pin down the values

You need to commit time to finding a consensus, to set out a value system. Six years ago the family worked together to articulate their family values, which became the underlying foundation of everything we do. We wanted to agree to an ethos which incorporates the past ideals of previous generations, their own shared belief system, as well as looking to the future. Our values inform everything we do, including how we invest, and it’s boiled down into just three words: “performance, care and wisdom”.

These three factors have been used to inform our Purpose Statement, and become a triple bottom-line of generating sustainable financial returns, making a positive impact and learning as we go – from each other, from our partners and our investee companies.

Our values inform everything we do, including how we invest, and it’s boiled down into just three words: 'performance', 'care' and 'wisdom'

Structuring the investments

There are two aspects to how we invest in line with our values. Firstly, we try and ensure that all of our portfolio (especially our liquid assets) are consistent with, or contributing to, a transition to a sustainable, low carbon future. And then secondly, in a much more modest way, we are trying to make impact investments to effect direct, positive change. They’re two quite different things and we want to be honest with ourselves about what is actually "impactful".

Many wealthy families are going further than us, and devoting vast portions of their wealth to impact investments. We’re more pragmatic. But in terms of both sustainability and impact we’re part of a critical movement which is gaining momentum incredibly fast. We’re all on a journey.

We’re at the stage now of increasing our monitoring of holdings. We want to know that our investment managers and underlying investments are aligned with our values – for example with a commitment to limit temperature rises to 1.5 degrees, as sought in the Paris agreement. We’d love to be in the position of giving the investment managers and businesses we work with the reason, or the licence, to change for the better.

The Covid-19 crisis – and the need to help

It is our investment belief that our approach will lead us to have exposure to better companies. They generally have more resilience in times of downturn, as now.

I think one of the biggest concerns for the family will be their philanthropy and support for social enterprises: now, in this time of need, are they able to maintain or even increase their giving? That is something I expect will become and remain a priority for family members.

This article is issued by Cazenove Capital which is part of the Schroders Group and a trading name of Schroder & Co. Limited, 1 London Wall Place, London EC2Y 5AU. Authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. 

Nothing in this document should be deemed to constitute the provision of financial, investment or other professional advice in any way. Past performance is not a guide to future performance. The value of an investment and the income from it may go down as well as up and investors may not get back the amount originally invested.

This document may include forward-looking statements that are based upon our current opinions, expectations and projections. We undertake no obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements. Actual results could differ materially from those anticipated in the forward-looking statements.

All data contained within this document is sourced from Cazenove Capital unless otherwise stated.



The value of your investments and the income received from them can fall as well as rise. You may not get back the amount you invested.