Responsibly-managed assets pass €1trillion in the UK

Responsible investment is on the rise as 45% of British adults with savings or investments want at least some of their assets to have green and ethical considerations taken into account, according to a study released today by YouGov.

YouGov’s study found that 24% of British adults would be interested in a green or ethical bank account if the option was available, up 2% from last year.

However, healthcare has overtaken climate change as the number one issue that British adults with investments would want to support – up to 40% from 37% last year.

One of the concerns the study highlighted was the lack of awareness around the ‘Stewardship Code’, the Government’s flagship scheme to encourage more responsible ownership by pension funds. 94% of British adults with investments say they have never heard of the scheme.

46% want to put at least some of their investments into ‘impact investments’ such as social enterprises, which produce both a financial and a social or environmental benefit, while 55% are interested in knowing more about ‘impact investments’ from their bank or financial adviser, up from 36% last year.

It also showed that 46% would support tax incentives for ‘impact investments’.

Despite the economic downturn, the continued rise of green and ethical investment in the market was also confirmed by newly released data from the UK Sustainable Investment and Finance Association (UKSIF) which found that responsibly-managed assets in the UK had now passed €1 trillion (£807bn) for the first time and represents over 18% of the total responsible investment market in Europe.

Chief executive of UKSIF, Penny Shepherd, said: “2012 has seen the shareholder spring and a summer of banking scandals. It’s no surprise that demand for green and ethical investment and finance is so strong.

“There is now over a trillion Euros under responsible management in the UK. The simple message is that people want to make money and make a difference with their savings and investments. And they can.”

After banking scandals such as the LIBOR fixing controversy, ethical banks such as The Co-operative Bank have seen a record number of people switching to them. The Co-operative has seen a 43% year-on-year increase on the number of people switching bank accounts with 100,000 new customers added in June and July this year, around the time of the LIBOR scandal.

Head of banking at The Co-operative Bank, Robin Taylor, said: “Feedback from customers that have recently switched has shown that the instigator for them was a desire to have a bank they could trust, underpinned by a responsible approach to banking and an ethical policy that directs who the bank will and will not finance”.

Leigh Stringer

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie