ESG Investing  

Two thirds of investors prioritise returns over ESG

Two thirds of investors prioritise returns over ESG

Two thirds of UK retail investors do not mind if their investments are sustainable but are instead focused on the returns they bring in.

Some 66 per cent of the 1,000 investors surveyed by Charles Schwab UK said they are purely focussed on maximising returns.

Just under half (44 per cent) of respondents said they regularly consider environmental, social and governance factors when making a new investment.

This drops to 28 per cent among the ‘Boomer’ generation (aged between 57 and 75), however more than half of millennials and Gen Z (55 per cent of those aged between 26 and 41, and 56 per cent of those aged 18 to 25) who invest say they regularly consider ESG factors when making new investments.

Respondents displayed more favour towards sustainable companies, with 67 per cent saying ethical stocks are a good option for investment, and 71 per cent agreeing that companies with good sustainability strategies provide good returns on investment.

Despite this, only one in five (19 per cent) of investors said they hold ethical investments.

This is in comparison to 39 per cent of respondents who said they hold cryptocurrencies, and 13 per cent who hold so-called 'sin stocks' including tobacco, alcohol, gambling and weapons production companies.

Seven in 10 (70 per cent) said they think there will be higher fees involved in making sustainable investment choices, but 58 per cent of these said they would be willing to pay these additional fees.

Richard Flynn, UK managing director at Charles Schwab, said: "Despite being a major focus for asset management firms, our research shows ESG is not always a priority for retail investors.

“Most investors clearly have good intentions; however, many appear to be conflicted between moral and practical investment motivations. Investors often want to invest in companies that help to improve the environment, such as renewable energy producers."

However, he added, there is a reluctance to sacrifice investment performance or pay higher fees in return. 

“This suggests that initially good intentions when investing are not always acted upon.”

sally.hickey@ft.com