Investment - Articles - Research highlights ESG saving intent vs action gap

Research carried out by Aegon UK among 10,000 people reveals the relationship between investing sustainably and a sense of financial wellbeing.

 People are concerned about ESG issues but there is often a mismatch between intent and action. Just under three quarters (72%) are anxious about global warming and other environmental issues. 61% admit that they are concerned about societal inequality and 65% worry about poor corporate governance practices. Significant numbers also take day-to-day actions in support of their beliefs, with 80% saying they recycle, 47% avoiding-single-use plastics, and 37% buying local produce. However, the research suggests that most people don’t invest in funds that have sustainability criteria built in.

 57% say they want to invest some of their savings sustainably, but only 31% actually do so. Significantly, half of savers (50%) don’t know where they are invested and nearly a third (32%) don’t know where they should invest, suggesting that a lack of investment knowledge and confidence may be a factor in this ‘intent vs action gap’.

 As pension scheme default funds increasingly integrate ESG criteria into mainstream investing, the high level of investors who don’t know how they are invested suggests that many default savers may not be aware of their pension fund’s ESG credentials.

 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, compared to a staggering 77% of people with 100% invested in sustainable investments. Similarly, 53% of those who have 10% invested in sustainable investments will feel a sense of ‘purpose’ as a result, compared to 77% of people with 100% invested in sustainable funds.

 Tim Orton, Aegon’s Managing Director for Investment Solutions, 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, and recognise the importance of near-term action. 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.

 “We also offer a wide range of support to our customers to help them understand their responsible investment options, including a dedicated web hub which is full of tips, information and support to help people make the link between their day-to-day convictions and the role their savings can play in supporting these.”

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