Over half of the British public are unaware that sustainable and ethical financial products exist, according to annual research carried out by Good Money Week.
The initiative, which is sponsored by Aviva, Standard Life Investments and ethical lender Triodos Bank, found that 43 per cent of the public would be more likely to buy a financial product if made aware of such option, a figure that rose to 53% of 18-24 year olds.
The Good Money Week/YouGov survey of 2,171 adults also found 63% backed the idea of a kitemark-style label to help customers identify which financial products operate in a sustainable or ethical way.
Simon Howard, chief executive of UKSIF, the body coordinating Good Money Week described the findings as posing a clear challenge to the sustainable investment sector.
"Not enough people in the UK know ethical and sustainable options exist for their pensions and savings and not enough are ready to buy without a mechanism such as a kitemark-style label to sort the wheat from the chaff."
The Good Money Week poll also found 69 per cent of the public would back a new law requiring financial advisers to ask all customers if they’d like to exclude specific sectors or companies from their investments and savings.
While 35 per cent would like their bank, pension or saving provider to offer a fossil free option, up from 32 per cent last year.
London has the strongest support for sustainable and ethical investment in the UK – 53 per cent of Londoners want to make at least some positive difference with their money compared to 45 per cent nationally.
Steve Waygood, chief responsible investment officer at Aviva Investors said:“It’s clear that the UK public are interested in sustainability and as an industry, we need to do more to help people understand where their savings are being invested."
He pointed out that voluntary standards in other industries are relatively commonplace, such as Fairtrade in the retail sector, but there is no equivalent for the finance industry.
"We would like to be able to certify that our funds take sustainability seriously so that we can assure our clients that our investment approach is both long term and responsible,” he said.
Amanda Young, head of responsible investment at Standard Life Investments, cited its own research which demonstrates that investors have, over time, moved away from wanting to avoid specific sectors to wanting to invest in companies that deliver a positive impact.
Triodos Bank backs a kitemark-style scheme to help people easily invest their money in ways that are good for people and the planet.
It's own research shows that 53 per cent of investors think it should be standard for financial institutions to make customers aware where their money is being invested.
Good Money Week is an annual campaign to raise awareness among individuals, financial advisers, pension funds and charities of all types of sustainable investing and finance in the UK.