Despite the popular image of the stock exchange as a place for wealthy investors, the reality is that most of us are investors. Anyone with a bank account is of course a type of investor. But if you have a personal or company pension, it’s almost certainly invested in the stock exchange. The same is true if you have insurance. Of course, you may also own shares directly.
There are a range of ethical views on the stock market. Some people reject all stock market investment as a form of gambling. Others draw a distinction between speculation (short-term investment for profit) and long-term investment that can contribute to an enterprise in which they believe. Some argue that we should seek to change the stock market by engaging with it, rather than trying to ignore it.
If you own a pension or insurance policy, your pension fund or insurance company should tell you who it is invested with. In reality, some are more forthcoming with this information than others. You can question them, lobby them or withdraw your money if you object to where the money is going. You can also urge them to invest in particular companies.
Many companies now offer “ethical” pensions or investment options. It is well worth checking what criteria they use. Some rule out particular industries, such as arms or pornography, while some may also seek to support business that is socially beneficial. As there are so many opinions on what is ethical, make sure they hear your own view.
For more detailed discussion and links, have a look at our section on investment in the stock market.