LAST month’s UN General Assembly was the latest global event to draw attention to climate change.

In a world of Greta Thunberg and the Blue Planet effect, consumers increasingly want what they wear, eat and own to be sustainably sourced.

It’s no surprise that this intent extends to money, too.

The finance industry has been quick to meet this demand, but with so many so-called sustainable funds launching, investors need to know how to identify greenwashing, where groups talk up their green credentials without the expertise or track record to back it up.

We have come up with a five-point checklist for investors to tell whether funds, and the teams behind them, can meet investors’ sustainable expectations.

The first point focuses on transparency. A genuinely sustainable fund manager should be transparent about how they invest and open to questions on their holdings and investment process.

You should expect clear and simple information explaining how your investment team runs money, what companies they look for under their sustainable approach and what they avoid.

Warning bells should sound if you see little more than meaningless comments like “sustainability is in our DNA”.

At the most basic level, a sustainable manager should be able to provide a full list of all the companies in which a particular fund invests. If they are unable or unwilling to do this, this is a red flag.

You should expect to see frequent communication giving an update on what is going on in the fund, relating back to the investment decisions and companies held.

Anyone can write a generic report on climate change, but can they then invest given the huge challenges that combatting it will entail? If you cannot contact your manager or don’t get a meaningful answer to your questions, this should be cause for concern.

Secondly, always look for experience and resource. As in any walk of life, we believe the experience and depth of a team is important when it comes to sustainable investing.

There is nothing to say a new fund will not be a good investment, and there are interesting products being launched, but as in all walks of life it is likely to be advisable to lean to experience over a novice.

The third point is that knowledge is power. Sustainable investing is popular, but it’s a specialist area and subjects like climate change are fast moving, so investors need to be confident their chosen managers have the required knowledge to run money in this way.

You should look for members of the team having specialist qualifications, but also for a general focus on training to ensure people understand the latest sustainability trends.

Again, if managers cannot display this, that represents a red flag.

Fourthly, fund managers must be able to prove their engagement in this area. This is a key part of what we call sustainable investing and we feel managers should be able to highlight a track record of holding companies to account and encouraging them to improve.

Managers should be able to talk in detail about their engagement priorities – whether diversity, tax transparency or plastic pollution – rather than just making sweeping statements.

It is also worth looking at managers’ AGM voting records: do they just vote with company management or do they challenge the businesses in which they invest to improve?

Point five focuses on the investment process. Ultimately investors will want this knowledge and experience in sustainability being applied to investment decisions – giving meaningfully different exposure compared to other funds in your portfolio.

Can managers show how their sustainability views are reflected in their decisions: is it simply ESG data and reporting for the sake of it or are they actually making a difference to investment?

Investing sustainably should be about making the world a safer, healthier, and more resilient place – as well as seeking strong returns.

Make sure your fund does what it says on the tin.

Mike Appleby is an investment manager on the Liontrust sustainable investment team.