The UK public has taken Meghan Markle to their hearts. As she prepares to tie the knot with Prince Harry on Saturday (19 May) in a glitzy wedding, everything she wears or buys will be sure to sell out in minutes whether it is clothes, jewellery, bags or shoes.
But Meghan is far more than a mere clothes horse as she has keen interests in sustainability and well-being. So, what sort of investments might be in her investment portfolio and could the Meghan magic enchant the stock market too?
Moira O’Neill, head of personal finance at Interactive Investor (Moneywise’s parent company), highlights some sectors that might suit Ms Markle’s principles and investors could even capture a bit of the Markle sparkle too.
It is probable that Ms Markle might favour ethical and sustainable funds: she is known for opposing fur and leather and is actively helping to stop the global skins trade. Her fondness for cruelty-free “pants” caused a massive rise in online searches for ‘vegan leather trousers’.
Many people want their money and investments to fit in with their principles. However, investors often look at ethical funds with some degree of scepticism, wondering whether the selection constraints will limit performance, but this need not be the case as Ms O’Neill explains: “Funds in the sector can have positive or negative screening, ruling out unethical options or only choosing stocks that have a positive impact - through advances in education, healthcare, technology and beyond.”
One particular fund rated by Ms O’Neill is Liontrust Sustainable Future Managed fund. “Liontrust belies the sceptics and has a stellar track record, delivering first quartile performance over both the short and long-term. Managed by Peter Michaelis and his team since 2001, the fund invests in companies that add real and lasting value for shareholders and society. What’s not to like?”
Another favourite she says is Standard Life UK ethical fund which “treads the line between being ethical and yet delivering performance well. Managed by Lesley Duncan since 2004, the fund seeks to include companies whose business activities are regarded as making a positive contribution to society.”
Although Meghan watchers have seen her in jumpers from Marks & Spencer, she is more often associated with luxury and designer brands. Ms O’Neill says: “There are funds that tap into this trend, alongside the option of buying the underlying brands themselves.” She points to the Pictet Premium Brands fund which “invests in high-quality services and products, from top end fashion and cosmetic brands, including the increasing demand for celebrity endorsed sports apparel, to technology and cars. Many of these companies are looking to China to drive demand, as an increasingly affluent consumer continues to exert their influence globally.”
Another possibility is Estée Lauder which is synonymous with premium skincare, makeup, fragrance and haircare brands including Clinique, Jo Malone (thought to be one of Ms Markle’s favourites), Michael Kors, Tommy Hilfiger and many more. Listed on the New York stock exchange, the company has been on the rise, says Ms O’Neill.
Like many of the younger members of the Royal family, Prince Harry and Meghan are both members of elite gyms and fitness fanatics. But can a healthy body mean a healthy bank balance too?
Ms O’Neill notes a growing trend for fitness options without the typical ties. She picks Gym Group which operates a pay-as-you-go style model for members: “This no-frills operation has performed very well over the past couple of years. And Nike, one of the world’s most well-known brands, the famous tick, has also ticked the right boxes for investors over the past year. There is plenty of competition in the space, but there is still no doubt that it is a brand that makes its mark.”
How to align your investments with your principles
Ms O’Neill adds: “Tapping into developing trends allows investors to get into the market at an early level, which often delivers the greatest returns. The organic food market has already seen big companies get on board, such as Amazon buying Whole Foods to be part of that growing market. Emerging markets wanting luxury goods, increased fitness and wellbeing awareness providing investment potential, and improving people’s quality of life with ethical and sustainable options, are all ways in which the world is moving – with or without the ‘Meghan effect’.”
One final word – Prince Harry and Meghan would do well to make new wills on marriage, just like any other ordinary or not so ordinary couple, to make sure that their no doubt burgeoning investment portfolio is inherited by the right people as all existing wills are automatically revoked on marriage.