A survey conducted for F&C Investments has revealed strong public demand for companies to act responsibly on social, environmental and ethical issues. The research also found high levels of public interest in ethical investments despite such funds still being a relatively small portion of the overall savings universe. The survey of 2,193 members of the UK public was conducted last month by 72 Point Limited.
Asked how important do you think it is for companies to take social, environmental and ethical issues seriously? some 47% of those surveyed replied very seriously and a further 40% fairly seriously. However, the survey also revealed some regional trends with those living in London, the South East and the South West registering the highest scores.
Significantly, almost half of the public some 48% of those surveyed expressed an interest in investing ethically with only 17% specifically ruling it out. Of those interested in ethical investment, more than a third (37.5%) stated that they would be prepared to do so even if it means a slightly lower return.
Avoiding companies operating in countries with poor human rights topped the list of concerns followed closely by avoiding companies that damage the environment, according to the research.
The is no doubt that the public have become more concerned about environmental and ethical issues in terms of the goods they buy and the food they eat. This research shows that they are also concerned about where their money is invested when they hand it over to an asset manager, said Jason
Hollands, Director, Head of Communications at F&C. There ethical investment sector has been growing rapidly in recent years both in terms of the size of assets and the number of products, said Hollands, but it still represents a very small proportion of the overall retail funds market in the UK.
The research suggests that latent demand for such funds is considerably greater than current business volumes. There is a big opportunity for financial advisers who include questions about ethical investment
on their client fact finds to tap in to a rich seam of demand, Hollands concluded.