Responsible, sustainable and environmentally friendly investing is here to stay. But, while demand is growing among all age groups, genders and income bands, some savers and investors are missing their biggest opportunity for responsible investing, which is through their pension.
We all want to make responsible choices as more of us are becoming aware of global challenges, such as environmental issues, human rights and climate change. We’re also starting to care more about how our behaviours affect the planet and society.
Taking ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) factors into consideration when investing is becoming more mainstream. It is acknowledged that companies that act responsibly to their employees, the environment and the public have a better chance of future success than those that don’t. Investing in these companies is a logical approach financially as well as ethically.
Many pension holders understand this approach and see the value of it. In a recent survey, more than one-third of respondents said that the option to invest their pension only in sustainable companies is important to them. Nearly two-thirds said having clearly branded funds for investing in environmentally and socially responsible companies is important.
The same survey suggests that pension holders feel that sustainable investing isn’t just important, but interesting. More than half of respondents said that a fund focused on clean energy and lowering carbon would make them more interested in their pension. A similar number felt that way about a zero-plastic fund.
But while pension holders feel these issues are important and interesting, that isn’t yet affecting the way they invest. Most people don’t manage their pension investments themselves, instead leaving their pension invested in the default options set by a provider chosen by their workplace. So, more than two-thirds of pension holders do not know how sustainable their pension is.
Many pension holders don’t know that they can choose their own funds, and therefore that they can choose sustainable or responsible funds. Around half are unaware of ways to ensure their pension is environmentally friendly.
Clearly, there is a large audience of individuals who would like to invest their pension more sustainably and responsibly but don’t know where to start. There are plenty of options, but without specialist experience, it can be difficult to select those that are truly responsible and environmentally friendly and will also deliver the financial return you’re seeking.
Source data:  https://adviser.scottishwidows.co.uk/assets/literature/docs/2020-09-responsible-investment.pdf
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