Environmental peril campaigns fail to change UK investors’ behaviour

We have commissioned some research into investor attitudes towards Socially Responsible Investing. Here are some of the key findings.

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  1. Rob Morgan
  • Just 5% of UK adults have changed their day-to-day behaviour as a result of the global climate strike campaign led by Greta Thunberg
  • An average of only 4% of UK investors have altered their investment behaviour to be more focused on Socially Responsible Investing (SRI)/ESG investment as a result of high-profile campaigns
  • 34% of advised investors said that SRI/ESG has never been raised as a topic by their financial adviser


Recent high profile environmental and social campaigns have achieved significant media coverage. But despite this success, only a small proportion of UK adults admit these campaigns have changed their behaviour.

New research by Charles Stanley Direct found that despite half of UK adults (50%) saying they are aware of Greta Thunberg’s Global climate strike, just 5% say it has changed their day-to-day behaviour. Government intervention appears to be the key, as demonstrated by the plastic bag campaign where more than half (56%) say they are aware of it, and 15% say they have subsequently changed their behaviour as result.

UK investors are slightly more aware of these campaigns. However, it is notable that despite having an investment portfolio, an average of only 4% of UK investors have changed their investment behaviour to be more focused on Socially Responsible Investing (SRI)/ ESG.

Part of this limited impact may be down to a reluctance of financial advisers and investment managers to spend time talking about the topic. A third (34%) of who currently use or have previously used a financial adviser/investment manager said that SRI/ESG has never been raised as a topic. Similarly, 33% say their adviser has previously raised the topic on the one occasion, whereas only 26% that it has been raised on more than one occasion.

However, with the increasing popularity of self-investment platforms, other influences offer the opportunity to highlight the financial, social, and environmental benefits of SRI/ ESG investing. The research found that key influences among those with an investment portfolio are a personal recommendation from a family member (27%), specialist finance website (25%), newspapers (21%), a financial adviser (20%), TV news (19%) and social media (9%).

The amount of coverage that campaigns, such as Greta Thunberg’s Climate Strike, have received is hiding the brutal fact that it takes a lot to actually impact behaviour. The plastic bag tax has prompted some to change their day-to-day behaviour but it had no more impact on investor behaviour than similar initiatives.

Part of this blame lies at the feet of the financial services industry, but the tide is turning. We are aiming to highlight SRI choices to self-directed investors and help them to more easily discover, invest in, and monitor these options. By closing the knowledge gap around SRI, we can help harness the transformative potential of socially responsible investing. This will ensure that investors are able to secure not just a robust financial future, but a society and environment to match.

ESG campaigns fail to change behaviour - table

To aid the awareness and growth of Socially Responsible Investing, we have launched an ‘Investing with Conscience’ knowledge hub, providing valuable background information for those wanting to educate themselves on the subject. Investors in any of the seven SRI funds held on the Charles Stanley Foundation Fundlist will benefit from a platform fee waiver until 12th July 2020.


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