Investor ESG intent not matching actions

22 June 2022

The majority of investors are concerned about ESG issues, but there remains a gap between intent and action, according to research by Aegon UK.

Just under three quarters (72%) of people said they felt anxious about global warming and other environmental issues, while 61% are concerned about societal inequality and 65% worry about poor corporate governance practices. However, the research found that most people don’t invest in funds that have sustainability criteria built in.

While 57% say they want to invest some of their savings sustainably, only one in three (31%) actually do so.

Aegon said that half of savers (50%) are unaware of where their money is invested and a third (32%) don’t know where they should invest.

Figures also suggest that the more exposure to sustainable investments that someone has, the more likely they are to feel positive about their savings. Over half (51%) of those who have 10% invested in sustainable investments feel savings ‘joy’ as a result, while 77% of those with all of their money in sustainable investments say they feel joy.

Tim Orton, managing director for investment solutions at Aegon, said: “Our research shows that there is currently a missed opportunity for people to align their views on environmental and sustainability issues with their pension savings. By supporting people to actively engage with where their money is invested, we can not only help to tackle sustainability issues, but also increase people’s financial wellbeing, aiding broader engagement with their long-term savings plans.

We also need to recognise that many savers don’t make active investment decisions but do have strong views on issues of sustainability or social justice. At Aegon, we are pleased to be playing our part in this area. For example, we will have moved over £15 billion of default assets into strategies that consider ESG credentials by Summer 2022. This is part of our commitment to make our default pension funds carbon net-zero by 2050, and to halve carbon emissions between 2019 and 2030, in line with the Paris Agreement.”

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