Wednesday, November 18, 2009

U.K. survey points to strong interest in SRI

A new survey suggests that most U.K. investors will take ethical considerations into account when next buying a financial product, however awareness of responsible investing (known as ethical investing in Britain) remains low.

The national online consumer study, conducted by Ipsos MORI for research group EIRIS, finds that 44% of the British public are interested in finding out about the ethical credentials of the next financial product they buy.

Respondents surveyed said that banks and financial institutions should prioritize current ethical concerns such as protecting human rights, tackling climate change, protecting the environment and investing in fair trade in their lending and investing activities, more so than avoiding “sin” issues relating to the manufacturing of alcohol, tobacco and gambling.

More than 60% of those surveyed could not name or describe in detail any ethical financial products or services. “Awareness is low even among those that stated they were interested and likely to consider ethical credentials when next choosing a product or service; almost half (48%) of those in this sample could not name or describe in detail any ethical financial products or services,” EIRIS said in a news release.

“The survey highlights a lack of knowledge as well as a lack of trust as key barriers to people purchasing ethical financial products and services.”

Thirty-five per cent agreed that they would not buy ethical financial products and services because they “do not trust the claims of financial providers” and 46% of respondents agreed that “there is not enough information available on how they make a visible difference in the world.”

“Our survey provides firm evidence of growing interest in ethical finance, suggesting that the message that it is possible to both make money and make a difference when investing ethically is starting to get through to consumers,” says Mark Robertson, Communications and Development Manager at EIRIS. “But levels of awareness, trust and confidence in ethical finance are low. The industry must respond with greater transparency and provide more information on how saving and investing can make a positive difference.”

The survey sample included more than 1,000 British adult investors.

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