The UK boasts the second largest market in Europe for socially responsible investment (SRI) retail funds, according to new analysis. Between June 2012 and June 2013, the UK saw ethical assets increase by 30%.
A report from rating agency Vigeo shows that over the last two years, the UK has been steadily increasing the number of ethical retail funds available. In June 2011, there were 95 domiciled in the UK but this has increased to 100 this year.
The data also shows that whilst some SRI funds are exiting the market, more are entering. In the year to the end of June 2013, six funds wound up compared to the 14 new funds. The figures suggest that SRI funds are becoming increasingly popular and are seen as attractive opportunities.
The report said the UK has a solid market “where SRI is understood and integrated in mainstream investment strategies”.
As the amount of SRI funds in the UK increases, so has its percentage of assets in the European market. In 2012, the UK accounted for 14% of SRI retail fund assets in Europe. This has risen to 17% in the last year.
The report follows data from responsible investment research firm EIRIS, which showed the amount invested in the UK’s ethical funds reached an all-time high of £12.2 billion in 2013. This represented a rise of around £1.2 billion from 2012, and an increase of £4 billion when compared in 2001.
EIRIS added that around 750,000 investors now put their money into green and ethical funds – a figure that has more than tripled in the last decade.
According to the Vigeo report, overall, the European SRI retail funds market has continued to grow with assets under management now standing at €108 billion (£91 billion) a 14% year-on-year increase.
The Viego analysis found that France has remained the largest market for SRI funds despite a 7% decline in the last year. France now accounts for 35% of the European market, down from 44%. Meanwhile, Switzerland and the Netherlands rank joint third and both represent 10% of European SRI funds.
Over the last year, the Netherlands has shown impressive growth, increasing by 106%, demonstrating that its market share could continue to grow rapidly. Sweden and Switzerland were also found to by dynamic markets, growing 28% and 18% respectively.
Following three stable years, the number of SRI retail funds has increased, reaching 922 in the year to June 2013. The figure has dramatically increased over the last decade and stood at just 313 in 2003.
Blue and Green Tomorrow’s Guide to Sustainable Funds, published as part of National Ethical Investment Week 2013, looked at 134 investment vehicles that offer wider benefits whilst still generating a healthy return. As of October 2013, the funds in the guide were worth over £22 billion and demonstrate that you don’t have to sacrifice return to invest sustainably.