Investment - Articles - Building retirement portfolios with sustainable investments

Aegon research shows 43% of advisers said they consider sustainable investments when building retirement portfolios, an increase from a third (33%) the previous year. Alongside this, there has been a comparable fall in those considering sustainable investments only at the client’s request, 47% compared to 57% the previous year. This suggests more advisers are embedding sustainable investing into their processes rather than being led by requests from their clients.

 A small number (3%) of advisers apply a strict ESG screening to all funds when building retirement portfolios. This was unchanged from the previous year.

 The research also looked at whether appetite for sustainable investing differs from retirement clients to pre-retirement clients. The majority of advisers (66%) said preferences were the same across their client base. However, 12% of advisers said sustainable investing was more relevant for retirement clients and 14% said it was less relevant for retirement clients. One adviser commented:

 “My sense is that there is no real discernible difference between age groups. It’s not the case that all young people want to invest sustainably, and the older people are not interested. That's certainly not my experience, my experience is that they're equally interested, regardless of age.”

 Regulatory Reform
 Many expect that regulatory reform will push even more client assets towards sustainable investing. The FCA will consult shortly on proposed rules to implement Sustainability Disclosure Requirements (SDR) for asset managers and owners. This is expected to formalise requirements for suitability processes and will better support advisers by increasing transparency and improve consistency of fund labelling.

 The research suggests firms are prepared for regulation in this area. 81% of advisers said there will be ‘no’, ‘low’, or only ‘moderate’ impact on future advice if regulation were introduced requiring advisers to consider client attitudes to sustainable investing. However, 14% expect a significant impact.

 Hilkka Komulainen, Head of Responsible Investment at Aegon, comments: “It’s positive to see that more advisers are embedding sustainable investing into their processes and increasingly raising this with retirement clients. There is still more progress needed but with new regulation on Sustainable Disclosure Requirements (SDR) on the horizon, we may see an even greater number of assets move towards sustainable funds and solutions.

 “The lack of industry standardisation means advisers have faced challenges when dealing with the different sustainable investing considerations, but the new rules on the classification and labelling of sustainable investment products should better support advisers and their clients to make informed decisions.”

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