Ethical finance

Investors demand ‘ethical’ banking but ignore own plans

North Bridge demo - Extinction Rebellion

Campaigners want a cleaner world (pic: Terry Murden)

Despite overwhelming demand for banks to pursue a more “ethical” agenda, only 13% of Scots with a pension actively chose their own investment portfolio, according to a poll.

Two-thirds of Scots said it is important that banks and other financial institutions take into account ethical, environmental and social issues when making investments.

But the YouGov poll of more than 1,000 adults in Scotland found that only a minority take an active interest in their own investments.

As individuals increasingly look towards modifying their buying and disposal behaviour to mitigate against climate change, the evidence suggests that many consumers are unaware of the positive impact they could have through closer management of their pensions.

The research was commissioned by the Ethical Finance Hub as part of the Ethical Finance 2019 global summit in Edinburgh, bringing together more than 300 senior figures from more than 200 companies and organisations, representing global assets worth $10trillion. 

It aims to promote a fairer system of financial management that combines profit with better outcomes for people and the planet. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, together with former Prime Minister Gordon Brown and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby by video link are among those addressing the event.

The YouGov poll reveals:

  • 86% of adults in Scotland do not consider they are an investor in finance.
  • But a majority of Scots are investors in finance because they have a pension, while 29% said they do not have a pension.
  • Only 13% of those with a pension actively chose their own pension/investment portfolio; while 44% said their provider invested their pension in a ‘default’ fund.
  • 67% said it is important that financial institutions take into account ethical, environmental and social issues when making financial investments.
  • 63% said it is important that financial institutions should have a critical role in addressing the current climate situation.

The Edinburgh-based Ethical Finance Hub is focused on raising awareness, educating and facilitating practical activities such as research, events and projects that support the growth of the ethical finance sector.

This week’s event, organised by the Global Ethical Finance Initiative (GEFI) and held at the RBS headquarters in Edinburgh, will focus on promoting Edinburgh as the global home of ethical finance, with an opportunity to create thousands of sustainable job opportunities.

The summit is also exploring how to make finance investments work for the planet in the face of the climate emergency.

The two-day event is supported by the Scottish Government, and bodies represented include the United Nations, Bank of England, the Financial Conduct Authority, RBS, Baillie Gifford and HSBC. 

Chris Tait, project manager of the Ethical Finance Hub, said: “Ethical finance matters for people because, over the years, trust in banks has diminished and today’s generation of consumers believes that investment decisions should reflect the issues they care about, such as the environment.”

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