“Make Our Money Count” Public Demand For Sustainable Pensions & Savings Reaches Record High

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Annual research for ‘Good Money Week’ has found that 54% of British investors want their investments to have a positive impact, beyond just making money. A record high since polling began in 2009.  In a sign that the sustainable investment market has shed its image as a niche market, the top three issues for investors now include corporate governance matters such as ‘tax avoidance’ and ‘data protection’, rather than the traditional environmental causes usually associated with ethical investment.

Headline findings from today’s research of the British public show:

– 54% of Brits who hold investments, a record high, want their pensions or savings to have some positive impact on the world beyond just making money.

– When asked to select three issues most important for the companies they invest in to behave responsibly on, ‘Bribery and corruption’ (40%), ‘tax avoidance’(37%) and ‘data protection’ (31%) topped the list.

– Almost a third (32%) of all adults want a fossil free option for their savings or investments, rising to 46% among under-35s.

– 47% of those with investments would be interested in annual updates from their investors on their environmental/social impact, rising to 58% of under-35s.

– 39% think large pension funds should be required to measure and if necessary, reduce the carbon footprint of their investments.

The research was conducted by YouGov for Good Money Week, which starts today and aims to raise awareness among individuals, financial advisers, pension funds and charities of all types of sustainable investing and finance in the UK. Close to 50 activities will be held across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland as part of the Week.

Simon Howard, Chief Executive of UKSIF, the body coordinating Good Money Week said: “The clear message from the public to the finance sector is: Make our money count. This rising demand for sustainable investment lays down a real challenge to the industry.

“So far it has responded well with a diverse range of sustainable options from energy efficiency and blue bonds to sustainable investment funds and community crowdfunding – but more needs to be done. In particular the idea of ‘carbon footprints’ seems to have caught the British public’s imagination and one action any fund manager or pension provider can take this Good Money Week is to open discussions with beneficiaries on how best they want environmental and social impacts to be reported.”

Amanda Young, Head of Responsible Investment at Standard Life Investments, said: “As global investors representing a wide range of different clients, we are seeing a growing demand for understanding how environmental, human rights, labour and business ethics issues are considered within our investment strategies. Our research into what is driving the younger generation of investors, the Millennials, has demonstrated a direct link between youth and values. The younger the investor, the higher the demand for the companies we invest in to be delivering positive benefits for society. These young digital natives affinity to technology is disrupting traditional business models and attitudes towards investing.”

Regional and generational differences
The YouGov survey showed significant regional differences when it comes to attitudes to responsible investment. The number of people with investments wanting to make a positive difference with their pensions and savings were highest in London (60%) and East of England (67%); and lowest in Wales (45%) and Scotland (48%).

It also showed a generation gap opening up in Britain:

– 52% of millennials (18-24yrs) want the option of investing fossil free, double the 26% of over 45s.

– 43% of millennials think the UK government doesn’t support investment in renewable energy, only 29% of over 45s think this.

The research also found that 42% of the public believe that if an employer has a ‘default’ pension option which employees are automatically enrolled into (as part of the auto-enrolment policy), then that default option should be an ethical or sustainable pension plan.