Throughout the financial services sector there are many acronyms and industry-specific terms in use, along with similar sounding labels being used interchangeably to describe the sustainability of a fund or an investment approach. 

At Castlefield we try hard to dispel as much jargon and as many acronyms as possible.

With such a range of terminology, we've put together a handy glossary. You may be familiar with some of these already, but here's your guide to some of the most commonly used investment and financial industry terms.


AIM - Alternative Investment Market. An investment exchange initially established in 1995 to promote the growth of smaller companies seeking public equity finance. Owned by the London Stock Exchange group, AIM is a Recognised Investment Exchange.

Carbon Capture and Storage - Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) is the process of capturing CO2, transporting it and permanently depositing it in an underground geological formation. This is carried out to reduce the emissions of CO2 by heavy industries such as Utilities, Oil & Gas, Cement, Steel, and other Manufacturers.

Carbon Footprint - A measure of a group, individual, company or country’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Carbon Offsetting - Compensating your total carbon emissions by funding carbon negative activities elsewhere. Companies often offset their existing emissions by investing in projects such as tree-planting.

Circular Economy - An economy in which there is no waste because resources are never disposed of – they are continually recycled or re-used.

Discretionary Fund Management – An agreement between client and investment manager where investment decisions are taken by the investment manager within a detailed mandate agreed with the client.

Diversity and Inclusion - Diversity refers to the differences people have in terms of their gender, age, ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability, religion, beliefs or other characteristics. Inclusion is about embracing and promoting diversity, addressing inequality and ensuring people feel valued and respected irrespective of their background or beliefs.

Divestment - This relates to the sale of an investment. Divestment may occur when the investee company consistently fails to meet investor expectations, often after attempts to engage with the company. Divestment may also be used to achieve social or political goals. For example, investors divested from South African assets during the apartheid era in protest against the regime.

Engagement - Engagement is about the interactions with an investee company but it is much more than simply meeting with the company's management team. Engagement presents an opportunity to help shape and gain insight into a company’s long-term approach to sustainability. It also gives us the opportunity to share our expectations on corporate behaviour and to influence company interactions with their stakeholders; ensuring that the companies we invest in are treating their employees, customers and communities in a responsible way.

Environmental Factors - This relates to the “E” of the term “ESG” (environmental, social and governance) and includes issues related to climate change, energy usage, natural resource use, water and waste management, biodiversity and other environmental challenges and opportunities.

ESG – Environmental, Social or Governance issues. A range of factors that engaged or thoughtful investors may be concerned with. These provide a set of parameters to measure the sustainability and ethics of a potential investment. Environmental criteria are used to evaluate the environmental impact a business has (such as its carbon emissions or pollution levels); Social criteria address issues such as human rights policies and responsible employment practices, while Governance criteria include the running of a business or best practice, such as its political contributions, executive pay or shareholder rights.

Ethical Investing - Also known as “Responsible investing”. Dating back to the nineteenth century, the roots of ethical investment can be found among religious movements including the Quakers and Methodists, whose concerns included issues such as temperance and fair employment conditions. Ethical Investing includes taking a values-based approach to investment, selecting investments based on ethical or moral principles.

Ethical ‘Negative’ screening – An investment approach that attempts to exclude certain companies and industry sectors from the list of investable stocks based on a predetermined list of “unacceptable” activities.

Ethical ‘Positive’ screening – An investment approach that actively includes or places increased emphasis on companies or industry sectors which “promote” certain activities deemed to meet a list of desirable environmental or socially beneficial activities. To learn more about the screening policy for the Castlefield Sustainable fund range please take a look at our blog post here or watch a short video on the Castlefield screening here.

Gender Pay Gap - A gender equality measure that shows the difference in average or median earnings between men and women.

Governance Factors - This is the “G” in “ESG” and is about assessing how well a company is run. Governance factors include remuneration, board structure and corporate strategy.

Greenwashing - This relates to the false communication as to the environmental or ESG credentials of a product, service, fund or organisation in order to make it appear to be more environmentally-friendly than it really is.

IHT – Inheritance tax. The tax payable by UK resident taxpayers to HMRC on the value of their estate at death, over and above the prevailing threshold limit at the time.

Impact Measurement - The measurement of how a company or fund affect the world both positively and negatively. Impact measures are included on the monthly factsheets for funds within the Castlefield BEST Sustainable range and can be found in our Annual Stewardship Report here.

ISA – Individual Savings Account. An investment account operated within the UK whereby individual investors can deposit money to be invested in a broad range of investment products. Capital gains and investment income within the ISA “wrapper” are free from Capital Gains Tax and Income Tax respectively.

ISDX – ICAP Securities and Derivatives Exchange. ISDX is a Recognised Investment Exchange currently owned by ICAP which is itself a publicly listed company.

Microfinance – A broad term to cover financial services, often small business loans and deposit services to customers in developing markets who do not have easy access to such services.

OEICs – Open Ended Investment Companies – A form of investment fund similar to Unit-trusts. Investments into and out of the fund are matched by the creation and cancellation of new shares so that the unit price reflects the underlying value of the investment pool.

Online Security - A broad term covering security for transactions made over the internet, particularly web page and email security. For more information on this please see our security alert and our blog post about staying safe online

Responsible Investment - Responsible Investment can mean different things to different people and covers all manner of investment approaches. Primarily it is an investment approach that considers ESG risks and opportunities as part of the investment process and uses engagement and voting in order to generate sustainable, long-term financial returns. It enables an investor to avoid companies whose activities they do not wish to support, whilst investing in those whose practices and values reflect their own values.

Scope 1 Emissions - Relates to the direct emissions that come from sources owned or controlled by the emitter, such as emissions from company vehicles.

Scope 2 Emissions - Relates to indirect emissions from sources owned or controlled by the emitter, such as emissions from the electricity used in a company’s office.

Scope 3 Emissions - relates to indirect emissions from sources not owned or controlled by the emitter, but which indirectly impact the emitter’s supply chain, such as emissions from a company’s employees commuting to work.

Shareholder Activism – The use of shareholder rights to pressure companies to change environmental or social practices

Shareholder Resolution - A proposal submitted by a shareholder for consideration at a company’s general meeting, requesting that the company takes particular action.

Sin Stocks - Investments associated with activities considered to be “unethical” or “immoral” according to an investor’s personal values or beliefs. Activities may include tobacco, alcohol, gambling and adult entertainment.

SIPP – Self Invested Personal Pension. A form of private pension where the control over the investment decisions or appointment of investment manager is put more firmly in the control of individual savers.

Social Factors - This relates to the “S” of “ESG”. Social issues relate to how a company interacts with the communities it operates in, its suppliers, employees, customers, communities, governments and regulators. These include, for example, labour standards, health and safety, supply chain management and nutrition and obesity.

Social Stock Exchange – In partnership with ISDX, the Social Stock Exchange provides a venue for capital raising by socially responsible companies.

SRI – Socially Responsible Investing – a broad catch-all description to describe investing in line with ethical or environmental considerations.

Stewardship – This relates to actively influencing the responsible allocation, management and oversight of an investee’s capital in a way that creates long-term, sustainable value. It includes the voting and engagement activity we carry out as investment managers on behalf of our clients. You can find out more about our stewardship activities and latest stewardship reports on our dedicated stewardship page here

Stewardship Codes - These are a set of standards that help set stewardship expectations and best practice for asset managers and asset owners. These codes are established on a country-by-country basis. Castlefield is a signatory to the UK Stewardship Code - the gold standard for the UK.

Unit Trust – A form of investment fund established to provide access to an  underlying investment strategy to a pool of individual investors. New units are created or cancelled as investments are either committed or withdrawn, ensuring the unit price remains in line with the value of the underlying investments.

UN Principles for Responsible Investing (PRI) - A set of six principles under which asset owners and asset managers voluntarily commit to incorporating ESG issues into their investment processes, active ownership and reporting, and promote responsible investment across the industry.

UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) - A collection of 17 goals reflecting the biggest challenges facing global societies, environments and economies today. The United Nations describes the SDGs as a “blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all”.