Half of UK consumers would like to check the ethical credentials of their next investment
Post credit crunch, most people would expect investors - or would-be ones - to focus on how to gain returns from any financial product, while other considerations such as ethical concerns have headed out of the door.
Not so, it seems. An Ipsos Mori/Eiris consumer survey that dropped into my email box today, showed nearly half of UK consumers are keen to find out about the ethical credentials of their next investment. Given that most of those polled are already investors, they are likely to have some relevant views.
They felt banks and other financial institutions should prioritise concerns such as protecting human rights, investing in fair trade, protecting the environment and tackling climate change. These are now the hot issues rather than the more traditional ones of manufacturing relating to alcohol, tobacco and gambling, says Eiris, the Ethical Investment Research Service.
But there is still a long way to go. Awareness of ethical financial products is low as is trust, with more than a third not believing claims made by financial providers. But only 15 per cent thought ethical products were likely to underperform similar standard products.
They might want to take a look at a report brought out this week by Mercer, the consultant, that lays out volumes of academic research on how taking account of environmental, social and corporate governance issues can have a positive impact on portfolio returns.
One thing is sure. Green, social and ethical funds have grown considerably in number and size in Europe over the past year, in spite of the fall-out from the financial crisis.
The number of retail funds increased over the year to the end of June to 683 from 537, or by 27 per cent, according to Vigeo, a corporate social responsibility ratings agency, and Morningstar.